Having very little personal experience with Barolo I tried this particular wine back in 2013 after a recommendation from the manager at my local bottle shop in North Sydney just before I moved to Los Angeles that year. For those unfamiliar with the wine, Barolo is a designated and controlled area in the Piedmont region in Northern Italy that makes wine from the Nebbiolo grape. They are premium Italian wines that many wine aficionados hold in very high regard and some may even go as far as to say that they are the greatest wines to come out of Italy.
Traditional Barolos are known for being very high in tannin and often require up to 10 years or more of cellaring before the wine is considered ready for drinking. I distinctly remember a demonstration of this at my WSET Level 2 course a few years back where we were given a sample of a young Barolo that had a recommended retail price of $200. With only a few years of maturity it was almost undrinkable as the very high tannins present completely dried out my mouth and created that puckering sensation similar to having something extremely sour in the mouth. The lesson was that unless you know what you are doing a price tag doesn't indicate you are going to enjoy a wine at the time of purchase and that a little knowledge can go a long way to enjoying the vast wines from around the world! Lesson learned!
This particular wine has a lovely light cherry red colour with hints of garnet, or brick red. There was little happening on the nose and I really had to give it time and get my nose right in the glass just to get an aroma that I can only describe as musty. To drink it was very elegant and didn't remind me of any wine I'd ever had out of Australia or indeed anywhere else. I found it really hard to break down the flavours into individual elements and my tasting notes just contain words like subtle, finesse, class etc! What I found interesting about this is I read some other reviews of the exact same wine and it appears I am not alone in using these descriptors as these words appeared in many of the other reviews along with comments such as olive on the nose, gentle spices and floral undertones. My personal favourite was the one comment that simply said 'tastes like traditional Barolo'. Not a very helpful statement if you've never tried one!
The high cost of decent Barolo is probably the greatest barrier to experimenting with them as this example was $80 and in Australia most decent Barolos are likely to have entry level prices at $50 - $100 and the best examples from great producers are well beyond that. This does make them somewhat of a rare treat which adds to their allure and I certainly enjoyed this wine and I look forward to experiencing more Barolos over time.
G.B Burlotto 2009 Barolo
Price - $80 at North Sydney Cellars : Here in the US I have found it for as low as $39.99 at Arrowine
Region - Piedmont, Italy
Final Sip - A close to perfect introduction to this Italian great and it is definitely a wine I would recommend to others with little to no experience with Barolo who are willing to part with the money.