The Brovias have hit a home run in 2001, with a set of Barolos that offer deep color, superb depth of flavor and powerful structure for aging. Cristina Brovia describes 2001 as "similar to 1996 but with sweeter tannins," which sounds to me like a Platonic ideal for Barolo. (Giacinto Brovia is now helped by daughters Cristina and Elena, both of whom have enology degrees, and Elena's husband Alex Sanchez. )These are classically made Barolos that normally receive a three-week maceration in cement tanks, which Elena says are ideal for keeping the temperature of fermentation down. Typically about ten days of post-fermentation maceration are done before the wines go into 30-hectoliter barrels made of French oak. Prior to '95, the family used considerably larger barrels, but Cristina noted that the 30-hectoliter size produces wines with better balance and does a better job of retaining terroir character. "The larger barrels made tougher wines," she admitted. "Now our wines can actually be tasted after two or three years in bottle. "(Rosenthal Wine Merchant, Shekomeko, NY)
(done entirely in stainless steel) Good red-ruby color. Fruit-driven aromas of cassis and licorice. Fat and rich, with impressive tex ture for dolcetto. Big, broad and dry, with plenty of tannins and soft acidity. Distinct torrefaction notes of dark chocolate and licorice. This was bottled just two weeks before my visit but shows no evidence of having been shocked by the process.
(bottled a week prior to my visit) Deep, bright ruby. Cassis, violet, tar, licorice and spices on the slightly medicinal nose. Very dense, rich and sweet, with mouthfilling flavors of dark berries and dark chocolate. A rather Barolo-like dolcetto that needs time to lose some of its baby fat. Possesses better acidity than the Vignavillej, but today the acids are hidden by thick fruit. Cristina says this wine will last a decade. From 40-year-old south/southeast-facing vines in Serralunga, which the family describes as an exceptional position for dolcetto. This wine is offered only in the best years for dolcetto, the last being 2000.
($22; the family's only barbera from vintage 2002, done entirely in stainless steel) Medium red. Aromatic, somewhat sauvage nose of redcurrant, leather and spices. Fruity and firm, without quite the depth and flesh to completely buffer its slightly tart acids. Finishes fresh but somewhat leathery, with modest length and the very light tannins typical of the variety.
(from a plot next to the Brovias' Ca' Mia holding; done partly in barriques, none new) Bright, saturated ruby. Superripe, somewhat porty aromas of black cherry and chocolate. Big, sweet, rich and unrefined. A major mouthful of barbera fruit.
(bottled two weeks prior to my tasting here) Medium red. Musky aromas of redcurrant, cherry liqueur and flowers; quite open and expressive. Broad and supple if not particularly sweet, with a silky, rather elegant tex ture. Subtle hints of spices, flowers, leather and game.
Medium red with an amber rim. Aromas of redcurrant, plum, spices and woodsmoke, with a slightly reduced nutty quality. Sweet, plump and lush, but without the usual vibrancy and cut of Barolo from this estate (or vineyard). Fla vors are a bit autumnal. Finishes with powdery, dusty tannins. This will probably evolve quickly.
Moderately saturated reddish-amber color. Sweet, aromatic nose of strawberry jam and dried rose; more typically Barolo than the Rocche. A step up in flavor intensity, too, with more definition and verve. Finishes with excellent length, and more grip than the Rocche. But this, too, is more open than usual for a young Barolo from Brovia.
(from clay and limestone soil, whereas the Rocche is essentially sand and the Villero mostly clay) Good medium red. Fla mboyantly ripe nose hints at minerals, prune and resiny oak; smells almost like a barrique wine owing to its sheer sweetness. Then lush, silky and sweet in the mouth, with very ripe flavors of currant and milk chocolate. Here the tannins are even sweeter than those of the Villero. Still, this does not offer quite the lift or primary fruit character of a classic vintage.
(bottled a week before my visit; from the base of the Fiasco vineyard in Castiglione Falletto, planted on clay and limestone soil) Moderately saturated medium red, with some amber at the rim. Strawberry syrup and raspberry freshened by a strong minerality. At once livelier and more yielding than the foregoing 2000 samples, with juicy, complex flavors of red berries, truffle and marzipan. Here the dusty, broad tannins hit the palate later, allowing the wine's complex flavors to express themselves. Distinctly sappy wine for the vintage, and not yet showing any ill effects from the bottling.
(a blend of 15- to 25-year-old vines in four vineyards; Brovia's cru bottlings are from vines at least 40 years of age) Amber-red. Perfumed, autumnal aromas of red berries, menthol and spices. Very ripe and easygoing, with moderately complex, autumnal flavors of plum, spices and menthol. A bit lean for its dusty tannins.
Good full red. Pure aromas of dark berries, minerals, spices, tobacco and menthol. Sweet and thick but with good spine. Dry but rich flavors of strawberry, mocha and herbs. Finishes with dusty tannins and very good length. A very harmonious blend.
Good full red. Reticent nose hints at roasted, liqueur-like red fruits, lifted by notes of licorice and mint. Then bright, spicy and firmly built, with high-pitched dark berry, cocoa powder and menthol flavors and a fine-grained tex ture. More primary and austere-not to mention much more classic-than the 2000. According to Elena, this vineyard's finer, sand-based soils are particularly sensitive to vintage variation, and 2001 benefited from some well-timed precipitation in late summer. But although the Rocche is quite variable according to vintage and can lack color in average years, with aging the differences shrink, Elena maintains.
Good medium red. Reticent aromas of currant and strawberry. Sweet on entry, then closed, even a bit tough, in the middle, hinting at a medicinal austerity. In comparison, the Rocche is a fragrant, feminine wine while this is distinctly muscular, powerfully structured Barolo. Finishes with youthfully painful tannins that will likely require a good decade of patience.
Good deep bright red. Captivating, highly nuanced nose offers red cherry, gunflint, spices, minerals and rose petal; calls to mind a great young Burgundy Rich, sweet, lush and mouthfilling, with complex flavors of strawberry, cherry, camphor and mint. Wonderfully vibrant, juicy wine with superb intensity and definition. Finishes very long and fruit-driven, with tannins that are firm but not hard. A superb Barolo that should be at its best between 2010 and 2018.
Very good medium red. Superripe if slightly muted aromas of strawberry, menthol and smoky oak. Fat, lush and full; large-scaled and densely packed. Strongly mineral in the middle palate. This has a huge structure but today its backbone is more covered by flesh than the Villero. But this, too, will require substantial aging. Finishes with huge but fine tannins that spread out to coat the palate.