Ciao famiglia,

I spent a few days last week at my sister's crib in Joisey and cracked a few bottles from my dwindling stash of vino I store under the stairs in her basement.

With grilled steak, we had two Barolos. The 1996 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo "Cannubio" was approached with trepidation because several of these 96's (both "Cannubio" and "Brunata") previously opened have not shown very well, being too acidic and lacking fruit. However, the color was perfect on this one. The nose was funky at first and I wasn't sure this would live up to the name or potential (in fact I was pretty sure it would not), but lo' and behold after about 3 hours of air the funk had cleared and a very respectable Barolo made it's appearance. My brother in law was quite pleased with the grippy (i.e. still slightly tannic) mouthfeel and finish. I liked the smoky raspberry/cherry/orange fruit. Not the blockbuster or religious experience I had hoped for when I originally bought these (3 Cannubio and 3 Brunata) many moons ago but a respectable performance nonetheless. One 96 left. Grade: B+.

The 1995 Aldo Conterno Barolo "Cicala" had a nice brick red color, but not much happening on the nose, and a touch too shrill (acidic) on the palate without the fruit to back it up. However, it was still quite drinkable, although my BIL and I both preferred the Rinaldi. Given the name and vineyard I was a bit disappointed but so it goes with older Barolo. You never know what you are going to get. Grade: B.

The next night I cracked my last 375ml bottle of the 1986 Giovanni Dri "Ramandolo", purchased long ago, when and where lost in the mists of time. A dessert wine from the "Colli Orientali" (Eastern Hills) DOC of Friuli. It was still kicking it! Gorgeous dark mahogany color, lovely orange peel and spice fruits, juicy acidity (12% abv also), how this has managed to be seemingly unchanged since the very first bottles (except for the darkening color) is beyond my comprehension. Great experience. Grade: A-.

BTW, with the grilled leg of lamb the second night I opened a bottle of 2009 Cantalupo "Agamium", their entry level red blend from Alto Piemonte. I believe a majority of the juice is Nebbiolo. Cantalupo is most famous for their Ghemmes. Wasserman had a selection of their 83 and 85 "cru" Ghemmes ("Collis Breclemae" and "Collis Carellae") which introduced me to their wines, and I thought quite highly of them. He also had an 85 "Agamium" which drank like a Ghemme, surprising me back then with it's quality. So when I saw this in a shop in Joisey ($16 plus 7% NJ sales tax) I snagged one for dinner that night. "Agamium" is the old Roman name for the city of Ghemme.

The wine had the color of traditional Nebbiolo ( a brick/rusty light cherry red) a floral nose of earthy cherries and a medium body with good acidity. Not a wine of meditation like the 85 but certainly an interesting Alto Piemonte wine worth trying once. I think it could have used more air time but it is definitely ready to drink, although a few more years in the cellar probably would not hurt it. Also it came after a big Napa Cabernet my BIL opened for the lamb (an excellent 2011 BV "Georges deLatour"), so it wasn't really fair to the Ghemme. Grade: solid B/B+.

Edited by Dave Cuneo (06-25-2018 10:22:01)
"When laws become the enemy of men, then men become the enemies of laws".