It's long been a name associated with Piedmont and Barolo. It's long been a stalwart producer, perhaps not unlike Mondavi in Napa Valley. A constant force, but not a cult superstar. A crafter of solid, reliable wines.
I had been on a search for "birth year" wine for my sweetheart and knowing that library releases of Borgogno Barolo were not too difficult to find, I began my search. I purchased this wine from a reputable retailer that acquired the wine from a prominent collector. It's unknown whether the wine was an original release, or a release from the estate after being held there since vintage, re-conditioned and then released. I suspect the former for reasons I'll explain below.
|~ Dusty bottles of Barolo aging in Borgogno's Cellar ~|
The wine arrived in great shape. The fill is very high - well past the shoulder and into the neck. Holding the bottle to the light, I could see tons of sediment in the bottle. There was a thick crust on the shoulder of the bottle, and plenty of finer sediment floating in the wine. I suppose it is the most sediment I have ever seen in a wine. The bottle was stood up for a few days before opening, but that only had a minimal impact.
When I tried to open the wine, the cork crumbled into bits. This was my first hint that the wine was not the reconditioned version. No matter what I tried, there were some pieces of cork that got into the bottle. I decanted the wine through a funnel with a mesh filter to remove the larger chunks of sediment and then left the wine in the decanter for about 60 minutes before dinner to allow the finer silt to settle to the bottom. While I decanted the wine, the bottle and the funnel were both became clogged with sediment. I had to clean the funnel half way through and remove some chunks from the neck of the bottle. Despite all this, the wine settled nicely and I then poured directly and carefully from the decanter.
The 1964 Borgogno Barolo Riserva is a light strawberry red, with brownish orange reflections. In the decanter, it initally looked like sangria. Upon an intial whiff, I could tell the wine was not flawed in any way. I took a sip and smiled.
With dinner - a wild mushroom ragout and a thick grilled NY strip, the wine was absolutely lovely. The aromatics are a symphony. There's intense earth and mushrooms, notes of dried flowers, dried orange peel, anise, and a rich cherry note. It's amazing to receive these smells from a wine so oddly colored. On the palate, the wine is fresh and vibrant! Had I been served this with my eyes closed, never in a million years would I suspect it to be almost 50 years old. There's a solid ripe core of crushed berry fruit surrounded by old leather, mushrooms, earth, fallen autumn leaves, spices and fennel. There's a slight wild game note. The tannins are completely resolved. There's no grip at all here - just wonderful complexity, ripe fruit and plenty of acids to refresh the palate. This was just an amazing wine to enjoy and also an amazing educational experience. The 1964 vintage was legendary in Piedmont and this bottle lived up to the hype. Very special indeed. 95 points, about $140.
|~ Birth Year Barolo: The 1964 Borgogno Riserva. This was right after decanting. The wine cleared up substantially after about 60 minutes and we were able to carefully pour from the decanter. ~|