Antonio Galloni has become one of the more respected critics in the wine world today, and not surprisingly, his passion started with the wines of Italy. In a couple weeks on April 26th, he will be hosting ‘Tuscany in the City,’ and you can still sign up at if there are seats left. I will definitely be there. And I was there last year when he did the same event for Piedmont, and I have been saving this write up as long as I can remember. Since all things French tend to dominate both the market and my articles, this was an evening that I promised I would revisit before a year had passed, as so many rare vintage Italians were sampled. Sorry, no pictures this round.

Italian wines happen to be a passion of mine as well, and this incredible night started off in the fast lane with a 1978 Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc. Its nose was full of fireplace love along with spice box and rack aromas. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cigar box took center stage. Its palate was fantastic, rich and saucy with high acidity, zip and vigor. Flavors of rose, chocolate and tobacco graced all of our mouths, and there was no question this wine was still ascending. There was great smack to its ass (96).

Antonio was excited by the 1988 Vietti Barolo Rocche, and its deep nose showed more mint and chocolate. There was a touch of Ben Gay menthol in there, and its palate possessed pretty cranberry flavors with nice citrus tension. There was solid acidity in this excellent wine (93).

The 1990 Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato was served out of magnum. Deep was a recurring theme, this time in thick fashion with black fruit, oil and sweet asphalt. There was a conflict between red and black cherry on the palate, but a touch of syrupy goodness resolved matters, along with great richness. It got a touch tangy (95M).

Giuseppe had to be outdone by another magnum, this one being a 1989 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, which had a musky, sexy, slaty and dusty nose. It was smoky, seeping out of the glass in a shy way. Its palate was thick and spicy, classic in every which way of the word (96M).

The 1989 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva was at first lighter and more reticent than expected. By the way, I am sure I am not listing ‘Riserva’ for every wine appropriately, apologies in advance, most of the wines on this night were probably Riservas. There were aromas of smoke, leather and backside in a beautiful way. The palate was smooth and elegant, again more so than expected, but its smooth, satiny and stylish finish had me intoxicated. It kept expanding and flexing more and more, really benefitting from extra time in the glass. Its tannins were dry like a good desert (96).

The magnum of 1985 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo had smoky and deep black fruit with chunky and sweet tar and tobacco aromas, almost everything I could want in a Piedmont nose, including some hot asphalt. Its palate was more about the cherry, and it was softer and easier with pretty chalk and red citrus flavors. The Chairman found it too ‘cold,’ while Luca Vietti found it ‘Burgundian’ (93M).

We continued with the ’85 theme with a 1985 Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis. Antonio found it ‘stellar’ and someone else ‘fresh.’ Again, there was this great nose full of oil, asphalt, chocolate and black fruit. It seeped hotness, but the palate was ‘dry and breaking up’ per Bobby. While it was dry for sure, it was a little hard not to like it (93).

A 1985 Rinaldi Barolo kept consistent with the other ’85s, despite showing its own unique personality. This was coffee city, sweeter with some stalk and stink, a bit wild but still excellent. Overall, the 1985 Piedmonts seem to be in a spot where I wouldn’t hesitate to drink (93).

An intermezzo of 1988 Salon was most welcome, and probably thanks to Bad Boy. It was a great bottle, the best of this that I can remember, full of oil and a sweet finish, still the white lightning of Champagne (96).

The 1978 Gaja Sori Tilden had browned sugar fruit with tobacco and nutty aromas along with oat and the meal. Its palate was creamy, medium-bodied in a nice way, with lots of leather and acid on its finish (94).

A 1971 Prunotto Barbaresco Rabaja magnum ‘tasted like French wine.’ It was smooth with light nut and lots of crevice qualities, ie smack and slate. This was a nice wine that was tasty and still fresh with good acid and a citrus backside (93M).

The 1990 Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda Riserva had a deep, nutty nose that was almost celery soda. Its sweet black fruit moved me in an Italian cannoli direction, with a little Zamboni action. It was smoother than I expected (93).

The 1990 Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva that followed also had a touch of that celery soda thing happening, but it was richer, longer and prouder than the Collina. There was a lot of zippedy doo dah to its nose, and great balance between its sweet earth, nut, oil and brown sugar aromas. Its rich palate was a ‘wow,’ a baby full of red fruits with a big monster finish. This was thick city and as impressive as any other wine on this night (97).

A 1967 Cantina Mascarello Barolo was a bit cloudy but still delicious. There were vitamins and black roses in its nose, with gamey rich flavors (95).

Then we came to the 1971 Giacosa Barolo Rocche Riserva. This was a wine that made time stop still. Bobby felt this wine was ‘everything that is right in the world.’ Apparently this was one of the greatest Italian wines Antonio had ever tasted, and I could see why. It was still so young, luring me in with its spice, cereal, earth and fire. Ok, there was wind, too J. It was so long, so sexy, so tasty…this was an elegant, vibrant and zippy wine. Bang pow zoom, I think this was the greatest Italian wine I have ever had, too (99).

The 1978 Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda Riserva was a superb wine. This was classy with nice lemon, vim and vigor to its nose. There were solid earth flavors and great zip, spice rack and sparkle to its palate, which had great acidity (95).

A 1971 Marcarini Barolo Brunate was creamy and tasty with a nose full of caramel ice cream. There were vanilla flavors with that Italian kink (93).

A 1988 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino Riserva was tasty, creamy and special. That was all I wrote, and it was about that time (94).

Bad Boy pulled out a spectacular magnum of 1966 Dom Perignon, signaling the countdown for the evening. There were incredible wheat, toast and cream aromas in its perfect nose. This wine was hot, like a sexy hot, vibrant and long with a zippy finish (97M).

There were two wines to go, the first being a 1955 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Riserva. Painted room was the first aroma that came to mind, opening up into old roses and old book. This was a tender wine, but it also had some brand new Lebron rubber sole goodness. Its palate was tender and smooth, hanging on to outstanding status but possibly not there much longer (95).

The last wine on this evening was another of the most spectacular Italian wines that I have ever had, even though it wasn’t from Piedmont. The 1971 Quintarelli Amarone Riserva was absolutely amazing, and about as intense a wine as I can remember. I am generally not a sweet wine drinker, but after 40 years in the bottle, this Amarone allowed me to bend my rules. Its aromas were almost addictive relative to the intensity and high it produced. That kink of gamey, pruny fruit was still there, but those were now overwhelmed by its acitidy and pepper. A touch of blood delighted the Vampire in all of us, and its palate was enormous, longer than 4th and 20 with the game on the line, but effortlessly good like the perfect pass for the win. This wine had me licking my lips hours later, and I felt privileged tasting it (99).

Not bad for Nebbiolo, not bad at all. Let’s see what Sangiovese has to say in a couple weeks!

In Vino Veritas,

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