According to Enrico Cordero, 2000 produced better wines than 1997, which featured lower acidity in the grapes. The wines are more complete, he explained, because the summer of 2000 benefited from some well-timed rain in addition to sun and heat. The Cordero Barolos are distinctly oakier than they were as recently as the mid-'90s, but the vintages I tasted in September showed striking perfume. Cordero is high on 2001. "The 2001s need another five or six years in bottle, while the '98s are perfect right now," he told me. The Barolos here ferment for 10 to 12 days, with very warm temperatures and a lot of pumpovers used during the first three days. The wine then goes directly into barriques, where the malolactic fermentation usually finishes quickly in a warm room. (Tastings, Chicago, IL)

2003 Cordero di Montezemolo Dolcetto d'Alba

($20) Perfumed, Burgundian aromas of red fruits and licorice. Then moderately sweet but lacking in flesh, with red fruit flavors along with some leathery rusticity. Best today on the nose.

85

2003 Cordero di Montezemolo Barbera d'Alba

($28; bottled in early September) Good deep, bright ruby-red. Floral, expressive aromas of cassis, black cherry, violet and licorice. Sweet, lush and juicy, with firm acidity giving it excellent spine. Snappy flavors of cassis and licorice. Finishes with dusty tannins and very good length. A good showing for this wine: I particularly like its sugar/acid balance.

88(+?)

2001 Cordero di Montezemolo Barbera d'Alba Superiore Funtani

($28) Bright, full ruby-red. Highly perfumed nose of black fruits, spices and bitter chocolate. Sweet, broad and lush, with a layered texture for barbera. Flavors of cassis and violet. Finishes with surprisingly soft tannins and a note of tarry torrefaction. Showing a stronger oak influence than the '03 normale

88

2003 Cordero di Montezemolo Barbera d'Alba Superiore Funtani

($28; tasted from barrel) Saturated ruby. Flamboyant aromas of cassis, violet and cracked black pepper, with some suggestions of exotic fruits. Broad and lush but quite dry, with rich, lively flavors of black fruits. Finishes long, fat and perfumed, with tannins that are at once finer and more substantial than those of the '01. This vintage brought the estate's best barbera grapes of the past decade, noted Cordero. Offers impressive potential.

89-91

2001 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Monfalletto

($45; aged in one-third new, one-third once-used, and one-third twice-used barriques Bright medium red. Pretty aromas of cassis, black cherry and violet; has the lift of a fresh fruit punch. Densely packed but juicy, with perfumed flavors of dark berries, spices and flowers. Supple wine that's almost deceptively approachable today due to its lovely balance. Finishes with rich, broad tannins and excellent length.

92

2001 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Vigna Enrico VI

($75; aged in 50% new and 50% one-year-old Taransaud Burgundy barriques Good bright dark red, a bit deeper than the Monfalletto. Lower-toned than the Monfalletto on the nose but still quite aromatic, with less floral perfume and more charry, smoky oak. Rich but quite backward, and much more clenched today than the Monfalletto. Intriguing notes of resin, Cuban tobacco and spices. Finishes with powerful, youthfully tough tannins. Enrico Cordero says this is more open than the Monfalletto, but today that's not the impression I get.

91(+?)

2001 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Vigna Bricco Gattera

($75; aged in 100% new barriques Good bright, dark color. Highly floral, Burgundian aromas of cherry, raspberry, coffee and smoky oak. Very rich, round and substantial, but at the same time uncompromisingly dry and backward. This has the powerful fruit to support its major, chewy tannins and big structure. Finishes with superb persistence. This will probably require the longest bottle aging of the estate's 2001 Barolos.

90+

2000 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Monfalletto

($45) Good bright red. Redcurrant liqueur and a note of caramel on the nose, with lovely floral lift for the vintage. Very ripe, sweet and broad, with flavors of redcurrant syrup and mocha. Finishes with substantial, building, dusty tannins.

90

2000 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Vigna Enrico VI

($75) Medium red. Subdued aromas of red cherry liqueur and caramel oak. Richer and broader than the Monfalletto, but comes across as less sweet today and more backward. Slowly mounting finish shows substantial, slightly drying tannins. Very much in the style of a hot year.

90(+?)

2000 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Vigna Bricco Gattera

($75) Good medium red. Rather cool and complex aromas for the vintage: black cherry, flowers, licorice and mint. Then juicy and nicely delineated, with a Burgundian delicacy of texture. This shows more energy and less obvious alcohol than the estate's other 2000 Barolos, no doubt partly due to the higher acidity typically shown by this bottling. Supple mid-palate flavors of red berries and spices. Very nicely balanced wine, finishing with fine tannins and lovely lingering spices. This vineyard clearly fared well in the 2000 vintage.

91
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