Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

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EmilDyrvig
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Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

#1 Post by EmilDyrvig »

Hi all,

I am hosting a smaller wine tasting on Saturday. We will be drinking a mixed lot of some vintage piemonte I purchased on an auction a couple of months ago:

1982 Fontanafredda Barolo
1990 Paolo Scavino Barolo
1990 Seghesio La Villa Barolo
1993 Bartolo Mascarello
1990 Pio Cesare Barbaresco
2005 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco

We are only going to be three people in total and would like to enjoy the bottles over a longer period of time. I don't have experience with opening this amount of older bottles in one tasting for this this small of a group. Essentially I am looking for any advice and guidance on how you would do it?
  • Sequence of opening. Would you open all wines at once, or should they opened separately over time ?
  • Sequence of tasting
  • Any of them you would decant?
  • Anything else I am missing?

Looking forward to some input!

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Eric White
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Re: Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

#2 Post by Eric White »

If they're not already standing up, do so immediately - particularly the '82, you want the sediment to settle as much as possible.

Given the wines you've listed, I would open them all in the morning and let them "slow-o". I believe all will benefit from decanting, and this is essential for the older wines to pour them off sediment. I would not be afraid of giving any of these plenty of air, even the '82. I'd probably decant the '05 several hours in advance, and the others I would decant maybe an hour or so prior. It will be fascinating to watch these change over time. Enjoy!

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Re: Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

#3 Post by EmilDyrvig »

Eric White wrote: December 16th, 2020, 10:27 am If they're not already standing up, do so immediately - particularly the '82, you want the sediment to settle as much as possible.

Given the wines you've listed, I would open them all in the morning and let them "slow-o". I believe all will benefit from decanting, and this is essential for the older wines to pour them off sediment. I would not be afraid of giving any of these plenty of air, even the '82. I'd probably decant the '05 several hours in advance, and the others I would decant maybe an hour or so prior. It will be fascinating to watch these change over time. Enjoy!
Thanks, Eric! They are all standing up since Monday so we should be clean on the sediment. And great with the concrete opening and decanting recommendations, appreciate it!

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Re: Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte

#4 Post by R. Frankel »

I don’t mean to start a debate, but I wouldn’t bother with the slow-o (which means to pull the cork but otherwise do nothing). I don’t think this does much of anything for the wine.

Otherwise, decant them all an hour or two before the tasting and you’ll be good to go. Longer is better - you can’t hurt these wines. Decant as gently as possible to not stir up the sediment. If you don’t have lots of decanters, you can double decant - I.e rinse out the bottles and pour them back.
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Re: Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

#5 Post by Barry L i p t o n »

Not sure I agree lnger is always better for the 82, but I'll let others with more experience chime in.

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Re: Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

#6 Post by Ian Sutton »

The standing up is non-contentious. Views on aeration vary and I personally don't feel I know for sure which is best. I would however say that decanting in one smooth motion into a decanter, allows you to avoid stirring up the fine sediment that can easily ruin the experience of tasting mature nebbiolo.

Sequence? I tend to lean towards youngest to oldest (and this can give tight younger wines a chance to uncoil over the evening).

I would serve the 2005 Produttori first, almost as a benchmark of where the wines have come from (I find a new vintage even better for this), though it's a contentious vintage, so I'll be interested in what you make of it.

I think I'd then go for the 3 1990s as a side by side (if you have the stemware for that) giving you a tiny insight to different wines in the same vintage. If you've just got the 1 glass each, then just taste them in close sequence

If you're having food, I'd then pour the 1993 Bartolo Mascarello to taste before the meal and also to drink with the meal.

Finally the Fontanafredda after the meal, and then a free-for-all tasting of what's left in each bottle to return to favourites. In our old group we used to 'taste' about half the bottle between us first time round, allowing us the opportunity to return later to see how they'd developed, or simply as the easiest ranking system in the world (the best one gets emptied first!)

I hope you enjoy it!
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Re: Arranging a tasting of older Piemonte - when to open what?

#7 Post by Eric White »

'82 was a quite strong vintage for N. Italy, so I'm pretty confident that one will hold up well (and evolve) with air, but it is always best to err on the side of caution - since you plan on a lengthy tasting, you can certainly go conservative and watch it over several hours.

I respectfully disagree about slow-o. I was a complete skeptic at first also, but I've seen it work. My approach is to pop the cork early in the day. If there are "off" aromas (funk, reduction, whatever), I leave the cork out and check in on it periodically. Once those off aromas blow off (happens more often than not), I cork it with a t-cork until time to serve. Back in the day when we could actually go to restaurants, I would double decant back into the bottle and transport with the t-cork. Had really good results with this approach.

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