Rosh Hashana chez Zacki (Oct. 1, 2016)

Potluck tasting are a pain to write about. The lack of thematic unity offends my artistic sensibilities and I'm running out of witty introductions or generic comments on camaraderie. Luckily, this time we wound with an unplanned Barolo flight that was a beauty as well as teaching us all not to follow a Barolo with a nubile claret. So there's a theme for me.

Barkan, Superieur, Shiraz, 2006

A good effort made under friendly fire from corporate management at Barkan. A charming nose, with spices and tar reminiscent of Nebbiolo, as well as black pepper; all the while, the palate has seen better days. Damn, it's sad to reflect that there will be no truly exciting wines coming from Barkan in the foreseeable future. Even in the past, it sometimes seemed as though the winery did all it could to obscure the talents of the winemakers who worked there.

Montes Claros, Alentejo, Garrafeira, 2008

This Portuguese from an obscure appellation reminds me of a kinky New World boutique, with a peppery, almost reductive bouquet and a silky body. Interesting and, despite the new world hygiene, very characterful.

Oddero, Barolo, Rocche dI Castigliano, 2001

What you have here right now is as good as this will ever get, but what you get is very fine indeed, a classic profile defined by tea leaves, spices and rusty tannins. This is a traditional producer that doesn't get a lot of accolades - I suspect there's a ceiling to the quality of the house and this wine hits it, but within that ceiling is a lot of old world charm.

Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco, Asili, 2009

You can't make any judgement calls about Barolos in the first thirty minutes. At first, this is disappointing, candied, alcoholic with band aid aromas, unformed on the palate.  But, with time, it shows a lot of classic elegance as the nose resolves to tar and rose petals, and even though the palate is still encased in that iron glove of tannins and acidity, it does manage to show its breed with regal gusto.

Brezza, Barolo, Castellero, 2011

This lovely, floral Barolo was my wine of the night, and just about everyone else's, too. It has a languid yet assured structure, where beneath the deceptively calm surface I find persistently focused power, as evidenced by the silky red fruit, juicy acidity and savory tannins. This is the only Barolo of the flight that is not only an expression of Nebbiolo, but also an expression of terroir, in the Burgundian sense.

Chateau Leoville-Barton, Saint Julien 2me Cru, 2008

Even though the oak is certainly too prominent right now, this hints at the classic Saint Julien sexiness and finesse. So you get a savory, tannic finish, but the suave black fruit and hints of cedar are smothered. We opened this a decade too early, now didn't we?