G. Conterno Barolo vs. L. Sandrone Barolo Single-Blind
Morrell Wine Bar and Café,
This group was started by Tony Kim through the discussion forum on
Antonio Galloni's Vinous.
This particular tasting dinner was organized by Eric Guido who made all the arrangements
for the venue and the food.
Eric also named the tasting
The Icon vs. The Iconoclast
and prepared a booklet for our tasting notes (mine did not list the wines):
The venue was upstairs at the
Morrell Wine Bar and Café.
The view above is from the balcony looking down at the entrance.
We all had a great time eating, drinking, and discussing the wines.
Dinner began a little after 7pm and ended around 11pm.
Our group is divided on the topic of blind ranging from "hate it" to "love it" and
everything in between.
So for this dinner the bottles were bagged, but those who did not want blind got a
TN sheet with the names. Those of us who did want blind, got a sheet without the wine listed.
(Eric graciously made up both.)
But then as we started the tasting, some who wanted blind said they only wanted single blind,
so as Eric brought over the bagged bottles to start each flight,
he would announce which wines were in the flight (but not the order).
So for the four of us who wanted blind, it was single-blind by flight,
and we sat at one end of the table.
For the rest, it was with complete knowledge of which wine was which.
I very much wanted blind.
I really wanted to see just how different these 2 producers wines were when I didn't know
which was which. IMO the difference was obvious in the first flight.
The 97 CF was very earthy, while the 2000 CB was simple and sweet.
In the 98 flight, I guessed them all wrong.
In 1999, it was obvious to me which 2 were Conterno and which one was Sandrone,
but hard to tell the CF from the Monfo since the Monfo was flamboyant,
while the CF was tight as a drum.
These two flights were consistent with my theory that a true traditionalist makes the wine the
vintage gives him. So Conterno made a very forward, ripe Sandrone-like wine in 1998,
but not in 1999.
1996 was confusing because there was imo something wrong with the Monfortino.
Once I was told which one was the Monfo, it was easy to tell the CF from the CB.
In the last flight, it was obvious which was the 85 CF since, unlike any other wine
that evening, it was fully in the tertiary stage. It was just wonderful to have at
least one wine that showed us where all these wines are heading (I hope).
The 90 CF we had was a great wine. The 90 CB was a good, but not great wine.
Click on any photo with a border for a larger view.
The Fine Wine Geek himself in a rare photo op with all the Barolos
(except the 1997 CF which was left at home, see the note below).
Photo by Eric Guido.
Spiced Walnuts, Olives, Artisanal Cheese Selection, Domestic and Imported Charcuterie.
My tasting notes for the Barolos are single-blind.
That is, I knew which wines were in each flight before the flight was poured,
but did not know which wine was which.
Two Hot Vintages: 1997 & 2000
1997 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 11am.] Dirty, earthy nose, but not unappealing.
Very tannic in the mouth with rich black fruit. Complex and long.
Hinting at greatness, but something isn't quite right. Others thought it might have been corked.
I did not. 92 points, but may not be representative of this wine.
I brought the 97 CF to this tasting. I bought it in 2008 from a good source, and it has shared a case
since then with the 96 CF that we tasted this evening. The cork for the 96 was perfect.
The cork for the 97 was dry on top and broke apart as I tried to open the bottle.
So I had to bring this wine to the tasting in a clean screwtop bottle I had in the house.
I did not think this was over the hill at all, but I did think it was off in some way.
I don't recall ever having this wine before from any source, so I can't say whether this
bottle was representative of any other.
I do hope to pop another bottle of the 97 CF from the same box soon.
2000 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Pop and pour, which may not have been a good choice.] No nose.
Thick, sweet, and gunky in the mouth. Very young and simple.
Eric said the leftovers the next day were completely oxidized. (88 points)
Second Course Served with the 1998 and 1999 Flights
Gnocchi with Wine Reduction, Herbs,Tomato Sauce with Melted Pecorino, and Crispy Potato Straws.
1998 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 4pm.] Tart, tannic, sweet black fruit and licorice.
Restrained, but very appealing. Very good structure with a long life still ahead.
I guessed this to be the CF! (94 points)
1998 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 2:30pm.] Smokey dark fruit in the nose. Smooth and sweet in the mouth.
Nice structure. I thought this was the CB. (93 points)
1998 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 4pm.] The most backward of these 3. Muted nose. Ripe, sweet and sour cherries.
Needs time. I thought it was the Le Vigne since it showed little complexity.
May improve significantly with time. (90-?? points)
1999 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Opened at 1pm. Double decanted at 5pm.] Powerful nose of intense ripe fruit.
Incredibly rich in the mouth with great tannic structure but loads of balancing intense fruit.
Clearly the WOTN for me, and I think everyone else. Stunning. I was sure this was the Monfortino,
until I tasting the CF which was so backward, I thought maybe it was the Monfortino, but surprisingly,
the Monfortino is just more forward and open at this time. Worth all its accolades,
and maybe even its price! (99-100 points)
1999 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Opened at 1pm. Double decanted at 5pm.] No nose. Hugely tannic. So backward and shut down.
Thick and juicy, but so tight. Needs a lot of time or a lot of air.
Hard to say how terrific it might eventually be, though
tasted last year was open and incredibly good. In fact, based on my memory, that bottle of 1999 CF
would be almost indistinquishable from the bottle of 1999 Monfortino we had tonight.
1999 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 2:30pm.] Jammy red fruit nose is also floral and fragrant.
Big complex rip and luscious. Easy to pick this out at the one Sandrone in the flight.
Young, but drinking beautifully tonight. (94 points)
Third Course Served with the 1996 and 1985-90 Flights
Herb Marinated Beef Tenderloin over Roasted Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Barolo Sauce.
1996 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 8:30am.] Nose of stewed black fruit, roast beef, and olives.
Thick, silky, tannic. Young but great. I thought this might be the Monfortino because the
2nd wine was so obviously the CF and the last one couldn't possibly be a sound Monfortino.
Still, on its own merits, this is a terrific bottle of wine. (96 points)
1996 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 11am.] Muted nose of dark black fruits and subtle spice.
Rich, ripe, and tannic in the mouth. Long, complex, wonderful black fruit finish.
Needs time, but a great wine. 95-?? (95 points)
1996 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 2:30pm.] Candied and ripe sweet fruit. Some tannin, but no structure.
I was shocked when this was revealed as Monfortino.
It was either a bad bottle or in a very weird phase. (NR)
1985 and 1990
1985 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 2:30pm.] Gorgeous, fully mature, but no sign of decline.
This was a great way to start the last flight because it showed where the rest are headed.
Nose of mulch and red fruit. Long, riveting finish. Complex.
From the maturity, it was obvious this was the 85 CF.
This will certainly hold for a decade or more, but I see no reason to wait now.
If you got it, let it rip. An absolute joy to drink. (96 points)
1990 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 9am.] Gorgeous licorice and black fruit nose. Thick and silky in the mouth.
Complex. Doesn't have the tertiary development of the 85, but it is just stunning.
Another great wine. If you only have a bottle or two, I would hold another 5 years.
1990 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
[Double decanted at 2:30pm.] Medicinal and withholding at first. Opening more with time.
A very good and tasty wine, but disappointing given the reputation of this wine.
At this dinner, I could not recall ever having this wine before, but I now see that
I had this 5 years ago, found it a little weird and gave it the exact same score.
Chocolate Truffles and Chocolate Biscotti.
1998 Château Coutet - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Barsac
[Pop and pour.] Delicious, honeyed, sweet. Classic Sauternes. A bit simple at this point.
2001 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito -
Italy, Umbria, Montefalco, Sagrantino di Montefalco
Complex and fascinating. If I hadn't drunk so much so far,
I would have liked to spend more time with this. Only mildly sweet.
Very good with chocolate biscotti. (94 points)
My tasting notes posted from CellarTracker.
These are two excellent producers. None of the Sandrone wines tasted oaky.
I still have a preference for G. Conterno, but the Sandrone wines are very good.
Also, at this tasting, I did not see a clear difference in quality between
Cannubi Boschis and Le Vigne.
Eric Guido's notes on this tasting can be found
on his Cellar Table blog.
Mark Scudiery's notes on this tasting can be found
on his Wine Without Numbers blog.
Click on any photo with a border for a larger view.
Marc, Tony, Jeremy, Michael. You can also see the reflection of Iggy & Mark.
Dynamic Eric managing the tasting.
Tony, Jeremy, Michael, Mark, Iggy.
Tony, Michael, Mark, Iggy, & Jonathan.
Eric taking bottle photos.
All original content © Ken Vastola