Interestingly, even while many modernists have cut back on their use of new oak, Valentino Migliorini continues to make wines the new-fashioned way, with malolactic fermentation and elevage taking place in all new barriques. Since '95, the Barolos here have gotten two to four days of pre-fermentation cold maceration-"to keep fresher aromas," according to enologist Giuseppe Albertino. They spend about three weeks on their skins. Albertino described the 2000 growing season as a hot one, with the wines rich in tannins as a result. Alcohol levels are in the high 14% to 14. 5% range for the estate's 2000 Barolos, but Albertino likes their balancing acidity. In 2001, he went on, the wines have more tannins than the '99s but the tannins are riper. The Rocche dei Manzoni Barolos are wonderfully perfumed wines that often remind me of Burgundy. But on my most recent visit I was struck more than before by their oakiness; the recently bottled 2001s in particular showed a nutty character and finished with uncompromising dryness. (Robert Chadderdon Selections, New York, NY)
($30; a sparkling wine made entirely from chardonnay) Bright aromas of spices and mint. Very dry, penetrating and refreshing, in a lean style but quite stylish. Very firm flavors of lemon and minerals. Finishes with sneaky length. A very impressive sparkling wine from the Piedmont
($38; from 65-year-old vines; spent two years in all new barriques Good full red. Slightly rustic aromas of red fruits, leather and nutty oak. Broad, rich and serious, in a rather mellow style. Ultimately quite sweet in the middle palate, without quite the brisk acidity of the best vintages for this bottling. Rather elegant, mellow finish shows a repeating note of nutty oak.
($35; an 80/20 blend of nebbiolo and barbera) Good deep red. Slightly dusty aromas of cherry and redcurrant. Sweet and suave in the mouth, with lively flavors of red cherry, redcurrant and flowers. Shows more acid cut and structure than the 2000 barbera. Finishes firmly tannic and quite persistent. Proprietor Valentino Migliorini reminds me on each visit that he was the first in the region to make a blend like this and the first to use barriques
($45; essentially a 50/50 blend of nebbiolo and merlot, but includes bits of pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon) Good deep ruby-red. Dusty aromas of black fruits, sappy spices and nutty oak. Big, rich and broad, with flavors of currant, spice, smoke and nuts. Finishes impressively long, with building but sweet oak-driven tannins.
Bright ruby-red. Cherry, cassis, violet, licorice and minerals on the nose; a dusty note quickly dissipated with aeration. Suppler and denser than the 2000, with more energy and depth. In a rather international style, but here the fruit is fresher and the wine comes across as less obviously oaky. Sweet but not overly so. Finishes with a note of licorice and broad tannins. From the same soil type (mostly chalk with sand) as the estate's Barolo Big d'Big.
($65) Full red. Aromas of redcurrant, tobacco, underbrush and nutty oak. Very sweet and lush, with palate-caressing plum and redcurrant fruit complicated by gamey nuances. Finishes with substantial but fairly sweet tannins.
($65) Good saturated, deep red. Very reticent nose hints at minerals, tar and underbrush; this is usually the last to open, notes enologist Albertino. Sweet and concentrated, with good inner-mouth energy owing to the chalky soil. Fat and creamy in the style of the year but still rather reticent and not yet showing the typical floral quality of this bottling. Finishes with building tannins that dust the front teeth.
($75) Good full red. Roasted, exotic aromas of plum, cherry and tar. Plump and lush in the mouth; as it did two years ago from barrel, this comes across as seductively sweet, even exotic. Finishes with very suave tannins that arrive late. A big success for the year.
($75) Good full red. Intriguing nose combines smoky cinders, truffle and oak char; hints at an almost liqueur-like sweetness. Then tightly wound, penetrating and backward; the least lush and least vintage-typical of these 2000s today, despite being juicy and ripe. Conveys a strong impression of acidity and minerality, as well as a more obvious tannic structure. Virtually tastes like a wine from another vintage. This will require a good five or six years of additional aging to express itself-but then it will not be released until at least 2006.
Full red. Aromatically complex, perfumed nose combines redcurrant, cherry, rose petal, minerals and mint; distinctly cooler and more classic than the 2000. Suave, spicy and intensely flavored; denser than the 2000 but less open to inspection today. Finishes dry and uncompromising, with firm, building tannins and very good length. The wine's finishing perfume suggests that it will be the first among these 2001s to reach maturity.
Good medium red. Musky aromas of nutty oak, minerals and flowers. Juicy, penetrating and youthfully closed, with excellent clarity and grip. Very pure flavors of spices, minerals and mint. Finishes lively and very long, with firm tannic spine.
Medium amber-edged red. Complex, pure nose melds red cherry, spices, tar, minerals and nutty oak. Round, lush and rich but uncompromisingly dry; offers a layered texture and considerable volume without any excess weight. A very full, spicy wine whose big, dusty tannins call for a good seven or eight years of patience. This, too, is considerably more primary than the 2000 example.