According to winemaker Gianluca Torrengo, Prunotto's 2000s share the sweetness of the house's '97s, while the 2001s are more classic wines, from a more normal summer. "We had good rain in spring and early summer of 2001, then a fairly temperate summer," said Torrengo. "The first half of September was warm and humid, but then it was cooler for the harvest, with cool nights. " Two thousand three was the most extreme recent vintage here:Prunotto harvested during the last week of September to keep the acidity from plunging below the minimum allowable five grams per liter. Torrengo noted that the decision not to green-harvest in July or August helped the grapes retain acidity. Still, these will be wines to drink early, like the 2000s, he went on, adding that the 2003s have even lower acidity than the earlier vintage (5. 10-5. 15 grams per liter, vs. 5. 3), as well as very sweet tannins. Prunotto will offer no Barolo or Barbaresco from the 2002 vintage, just nebbiolo. "There was not enough body, structure or ageability to call these wines Barolo or Barbaresco," Torrengo explained. (Winebow, Inc. , Hohokus, NJ. )
($16; 13% alcohol, vs. a normal 12%-12.5%) Good medium red. Currant, red cherry and spices on the surprisingly aromatic nose. Rich, spicy and soft, with good texture but modest complexity and verve. Finishes with soft, smooth tannins. Not especially lacking in acidity but comes across as a bit fla t in the middle palate.
Brighter deep red color, with some ruby tones. Bright aromas of cassis, violet, chocolate and tobacco. Youthful, vinous and classically dry, with an enticing sugar/acid balance. More perfumed on the back end, finishing with notes of chocolate and mint, firm tannins, good building length, and much more cut than the regular dolcetto. This is from higher-altitude vines facing east.
($16) Good deep red. Scented aromas of dark berries and flowers. Juicy and tightly wound, with solid acidity framing the fruit and floral flavors. Very young and not yet pliant, but fresh for the year. The finish shows a hint of oak tannins (part of the wine was aged in larger casks).
Moderately saturated medium red. Cherry, licorice and a dusty note on the nose. Rather soft and flat despite showing an edge of acidity. Simple for this bottling at Prunotto, showing modest depth. Slightly drying finish shows a tart edge.
Medium red with an amber rim. Dullish aromas of red fruits, underbrush, tobacco, mocha and marzipan. Brisk but a bit sour and lacking in life; shows some intrusive acidity without correspondingly bright flavors. A bit thin and dry on the end. Developing quickly.
($32; bottled in May of 2004) Good medium red. Red cherry, raspberry, nuts, vanilla and underbrush on the lively nose. Then rather fat and round for 2002, with sweet red fruit flavors and decent volume. Sound acids and inner-mouth floral perfume add interest. Finishes brisk and persistent. This wine begin in large barrels, but Torrengo puts part of the juice in used barriques at the end of the first year of aging, to give the wine more shape.
($30) Good deep red. Complex aromas of red fruits, spices, flowers and dark chocolate. Then sweet, lush and silky, with lovely volume and cut. Snappy acids are in balance with the wine's strong fruit and suave wood tannins. Finishes with subtle persistence and excellent thrust.
($30) Pale red-brick color. Musky aromas of red berries, nuts, marzipan and coffee. Lush, soft and dry, with some edgy acidity to lose. Not bad. Torrengo says the soil here is sandy, and less water-retentive than clay, which helped the grapes in the 2002 growing season.
($30) Medium amber-edged red. Bright, aromatic nose combines redcurrant, tobacco and nuts; much warmer and more varietally convincing than the 2002. Then spicy, perfumed and penetrating, with lovely class and del ineation. Very silky, impeccably balanced wine with excellent length and considerable early appeal. A lovely example of nebbiolo, and a terrific value.
($45) Good medium red. Pretty, aromatic nose combines red cherry, marzipan, flowers, spices and licorice. Slightly firm-edged and withdrawn, dominated by its solid acidity and tannic structure today. Harder at present than the 2001 Nebbiolo Occhetti, and more tightly wound.
($65; bottled in May of 2004; this wine sees a bit of used barriques, whereas the normale is aged in larger casks) Good medium red. Subdued, pure aromas of cherry, currant, plum, leather and licorice, with a complicating whiff of underbrush. Big, broad and fairly deep; quite dry, spicy and pure. A fairly large-scaled wine that finishes with building but ripe tannins.
($50; bottled in May of 2004) Medium amber-edged red. Subtly spicy aromas of red berries, rose petal, marzipan and licorice. Lush and sweet, with a distinctly soft tex ture for Barolo. But also rich, deep and vinous, if not especially complex. Finishes with building, dusty tannins and very good length.
($75; bottled in November 2003) Medium red. Pure, subtle, perfumed nose. Sweet and lush in the mouth, with lovely balancing acidity contributing to the impression of perfume. Finishes floral and persistent, with lush, molar-coating tannins and noteworthy freshness and grip for the year. This was bottled on the early side for a market primed for the 2000s, admitted Torrengo.
($50; currently in a stainless steel tank) Medium red. Primary aromas of cassis, mint, flowers and licorice. Dense, chewy and structured, with a strong impression of extract. A plump, sweet, nicely balanced Barolo that finishes firmly tannic, with good cut and grip.
($75) Good deep red. Highly complex nose combines currant, tobacco, rose petal, spices, marzipan and underbrush, as well as strong minerality. Sweet, highly perfumed flavors of dark berries, rose petal and graphite. Fat and lush but with excellent flavor definition, thanks to solid, harmonious acidity (5.7 grams per liter, not far behind the 5.9 in the 1999). Very classy Barolo, finishing with suave, horizontal tannins. This needs an early bottling, and indeed Torrengo told me he would bottle it in November, "for the nose." This wine comes from three hectares of 30-year-old vines; Prunotto also owns ten- and four-year-old vines in Bussia, but this juice does not yet go into the cru bottling.