(Mostly) Barolo Night at Tchernichovsky

Four Barolos and a Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, not to mention a white Portuguese as an appertif, is a challenging prospect. The great company and food helped our digestive tracts and bloodstream absorb and thrive. What a great, great night!

Niepoort, Douro, Tiara Branco, 2020

There are many white wines I adore, in the world in general and Portugal specifically. Tiara is the white wine I never have enough of. I always want to age it but wind up drinking it before it barely reaches the age of three. The minerals circle the fruit core like a ball of thin twine, and the wine presents a set of aromas and minerals slightly askew from what the rest of the white wines of the world provide. The fruit is dry, yet plump without being overripe, and the acidity is well judged. 

Domaine Pierre Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, Lavaut St. Jacques, 2013

This was the spanner in the works. It's a wine that I thought needed to be served before the Nebbiolos upstream. It's no less deep than the Barolos, but the structure, of course, is very different, and I thought it would be hard to return to its muscular tannins after the Barolos' rusty ones. On the other hand, it's not a wine that's quick to open, so drinking it early in the lineup would also be a problem. We played it both ways and poured it first, drank half a bottle and returned to it later. Its pedigree is quite obvious, even at its initial showing, where it showed rotting violets, iron and soft outer carriage that belied a deep, stern core within. Its tannins were more obvious in the second round, where its mineral and surprisingly rusty texture was able to meet the Barolos head on.

Flavio Roddolo, Barolo, Monforte, Ravera, 2012

This cult producer was a revelation on to me. 2012 is the most recent vintage on sale (the most recent Barbera is the 2011!) - think of Roddolo as the Piedmont version of Tondonia. The nose is enchanting and nigh perfect, cherries spiked with balsamic vinegar mixed with earth, the kind of nose that even in this relatively young wine evokes history and place. The palate is an essence of nails and cherries, gaining balance and definition and winding up with a long, caressing finish. The wine of the night, for me (and, I daresay, for the rest of the company).

Ca’Press, Barolo, Monforte d’Alba, 2018

The feminine wine of the night, even more so than the Duroche. Sweet tea and rose petals on the nose, with an echo of dry tar, the palate more of the same. More than approachable despite its youth, albeit not as fleshed out as the rest.

Principiano, Barolo, Boscaretto, 1996

A slightly oxidized bottle, playing out like a wine ten to twenty years older. A good bottle would be diamonds and rust, this is rather a soup of nails, a deep core of rust enveloped by somewhat misshapen fruit.

Cascina Fontana, Barolo, 2016

A 2016 this young will either shut down after a while or never open. We were lucky it turned out to be the former case and that we wrapped up the night before the wine went off to nap. It feels riper than the other Barolos, with a caressing cherry sweetness that was followed by notes of minerals, becoming the most mineral-laden at the end of the night.