Angelo Rocca, who is a strong proponent of the 2000 Barbarescos, admits that the 2001s are fresher wines, with excellent balance. "The 2001 vintage was a bit like 1999, but in '99 we had even cooler nights during the weeks leading up to the harvest. The 2001s may be more elegant, while the 1999s are more austere. "Rocca has produced superconcentrated barbera from the 2003 vintage. Crop levels for barbera were in the very low 30 hectoliters-per-hectare range-lower than for Barbaresco, he noted. "The 2003 barbera is a big boy," he concluded. (Marc de Grazia; numerous importers, including Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY; Vin Divino, Chicago, IL; and Estate Wines Ltd. , San Rafael, CA)
($17; bottled in April of 2004; done entirely in stainless steel) Very spicy aromas of pineapple and peach, with a musky nutty note that obviously does not come from oak. Gingery and spicy, with a note of licorice but little obvious fruit showing. Finishes a bit dry-edged, with modest length.
($30; cortese; aged on its lees in barriques, 20% new, until the bottling in August) Full yellow color. Aromas of yellow plum, peach syrup, baking spices and coconutty oak. Rich, spicy and dry, with more flavor intensity than the chardonnay. The wine's peach and ginger flavors are supported by surprisingly firm acids for the year. Finishes long and aromatic.
($18; done in stainless steel) Bright ruby-red. Superripe but lively aromas of black cherry, mint and licorice. Lush, rich and superripe, with chewy flavors of black cherry and licorice. Impressively concentrated, serious dolcetto, finishing with substantial ripe tannins and very good persistence.
($30; aged in barriques, 30% new; from 50-year-old vines with a southwest exposition) Bright ruby-red. Aromas of violet, bitter chocolate, graphite and leather. Silky and dense, with a pure cassis flavor complemented but not overwhelmed by oak. Quite seamless and suave; sweet but with firm underlying structure. Offers an intriguing saline quality and finishes with a note of bitter chocolate. Very impressive for the year. "The barbera fruit in 2002 married better with the oak than in some bigger, fatter years," Rocca pointed out.
($30) Deep ruby. Brooding, superripe aromas of cassis, violet and bitter chocolate. Impressively thick and concentrated, with a glyceral texture rare for barbera along with great penetrating sweetness. A huge, silky wine with terrific persistence and a lingering note of licorice. This started in barriques but was in botti when I tasted it, including some of the same Austrian casks Rocca is also now using for his Barbaresco Bric Ronchi.
(this is Rocca's only Barbaresco bottling in this vintage) Deep red-ruby. Dark berries and flowers on the nose. Juicy, ripe and nicely delineated, if not particularly fleshy. With a dearth of stuffing, this comes across as firmly tannic and a bit clenched.
($48) Good medium red. Ripe aromas of sappy red berries, plum and flowers. Lush, smooth and ripe, with suave, mouthfilling flavors of plum and spice. Finishes with full but fine-grained tannins and very good length. Nicely made, but I'm not sure I would have identified it as Barbaresco. Rocca rents this vineyard in the Montersino cru from his daughter; this was the first crop from these vines.
($67; aged in botti) Good bright full red. Superripe aromas of plum liqueur, raspberry, redcurrant, leather and beefsteak tomato. Fat, sweet and pliant, with lovely texture and palate coverage. At once full and suave. Finishes with substantial ripe tannins and excellent breadth and length. No shortage of lift here. This gracefully carries its 14.8% alcohol (the '00 version was virtually 15%).
($67; aged entirely in barriques, 80% new) Bright, deep red. Higher-pitched aromas of raspberry, redcurrant and baking spices. Then juicy but rather austere in the mouth; a bit youthfully clenched and not particularly sweet for a barrique wine. Finishes long and brisk but a bit tough, with rather pronounced wood tannins. Less suave than the Loreto. Perhaps in an awkward stage today. (Rocca told me he has found an Austrian barrelmaker called Stockinger who makes 20-hectoliter oak casks; beginning with the 2003 vintage, 20% of the Ronchi will be aged in these barrels.)