"Sweetness is the key to the 2000 vintage," said Davide Asselle, who assists Voerzio in the vineyards and in the winery. While a few of these wines strike this taster as almost too ripe, with distinct aromas of surmaturite, their strength of material is indisputable. Voerzio makes Barolo from some of the tiniest yields in the region:by limiting growth to six rather small bunches per vine, he routinely produces less than a kilo of fruit per vine. Voerzio uses one-third new barriques and the rest two-, three- and four-year-old barrels, notes Asselle, who added that the percentage of new oak was reduced somewhat for the 2003s. Incidentally, Voerzio will not offer a 2003 dolcetto. The wine never finished fermenting its sugar, and Voerzio refuses to use commercial yeasts or enzymes. (Winebow, Inc. , Hohokus, NJ)
($400; bottled entirely in magnums; aged in 50% new and 50% once-used barriques Bright, full ruby. Exotic berry cocktail of a nose, with a strongly spicy character. Creamy, dense and deep, with penetrating berry flavors complicated by earth, spices and bitter chocolate. Creamy-sweet and rich, finishing with substantial, lush, oak-driven tannins and excellent length. I might have picked this blind as a cross between California cabernet and zinfandel. But it's very impressive red wine.
($220) Medium red. Roasted redcurrant and tobacco on the nose, with a suggestion of dried fruits that reminded me of a Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape. Then fat, rich and chewy, though not especially sweet in the middle. Liqueur-like redcurrant syrup flavor complicated by minerals, leather and animal fur. Finishes with big, drying tannins. This is Voerzio's highest-altitude cru and a wine that's usually perfumed in the early going, but today this is my least favorite 2000 here. (There will be no La Serra in the hot year of 2003, and in the hail year of 2002, Voerzio didn't even bother to harvest these vines.)
($220) Medium red. Redcurrant liqueur, smoke and nutty oak on the superripe nose, with an intriguing iron-like element. Very sweet and suave in the mouth, conveying a more layered impression than La Serra. Flavors of red fruits, minerals and flowers seem more clearly delineated. Finishes with big but ripe tannins and very good length.
($220) Good medium red. Fresh, complex aromas of cherry, dried flowers and spices. Very sweet and lush, with terrific concentration and depth; wonderfully creamy and broad. Highly complex, aromatic flavors of raspberry, dried flowers and minerals. Finishes long and elegant, with sweet, fine-grained tannins. A superb showing.
($220; the first year for this bottling; Voerzio's vines in Rocche are 30 years old while those in Torriglione are more than 60 years of age, according to Asselle) Full medium red, with a brown tinge. Superripe, musky aromas of redcurrant, cedar, pepper and smoked meat. Very fat on the palate but uncompromisingly dry and closed today, with an intriguing mineral quality giving shape to the wine. Very large-scaled for a Barolo from La Morra, and impressively long on the aftertaste, with the ripe, dusty tannins hitting the palate late. The creamy texture and breadth of the tannins are no doubt largely due to the age of the vines. This is almost sure to merit a higher score with six to eight years of additional cellaring.
($530; all bottled in magnums; Sarmassa is in the commune of Barolo, adjacent to Cerequio, which itself straddles the La Morra/Barolo line) Good full red, the deepest color of these 2000s. Flamboyantly ripe, expressive aromas of roasted raspberry, tobacco, woodsmoke, mocha and pungent oak spices. Very sweet and highly concentrated; like a chocolate truffle filled with raspberry liqueur. Subtle minerality lurking. The sweetest of these 2000 Barolos but without quite the surmaturite of a couple of them. Finishes with big, tongue-clenching tannins and excellent length. These vines are normally harvested later than Voerzio's Cerequio parcel.
($530; bottled entirely in magnums) Highly complex aromas of raspberry, woodsmoke, spices, pepper and Havana tobacco. At once lush and sappy in the mouth, with the creamy sweetness of a fruit liqueur complemented by notes of tobacco, chocolate and mocha. Shows a distinctly roasted character without losing its balance or verve. Explosive, seamless Barolo that saturates the palate with fruit. Finishes with slow-building tannins and outstanding persistence. (I was able to retaste the amazing '99 version of this wine, which I rated 95(+?) in Issue 105. This incredible wine showed great power and energy in the mouth, and finished with uncanny length and grip. It should be kept for at least seven or eight more years.)
($220) Good fresh, deep red. Superripe, deep aromas of plum, mocha and smoky oak. Very rich, ripe and chewy, with a rare creaminess of texture and terrific depth. Utterly velvety mouth feel. Finishes with huge but lush tannins. A very good showing.
($220) Deep red. Sappy aromas of raspberry, cherry, pepper, mocha, cedar and underbrush; perfumed in a distinctly Burgundian way (Musigny?). Then bright, fresh and laid-back in the mouth, with nicely delineated flavors of minerals, mocha and brown spices. Finishes long, subtle and fine-grained, with lovely lingering perfume. A classic example of this superb vintage.
($220) Good deep red. Nuanced nose combines raspberry, woodsmoke and an intriguing element of roasted herbs. Sweeter than the Brunate and higher-pitched, with strawberry and cherry fruit enlivened by balsamic and eucalyptus notes. Very complex, juicy wine that's currently a bit more typically backward than the Brunate, and just beginning to unfold .spanstyle='mso-spacerunyes' spanThebigbutripetannins arrive very late, allowing the fruit to expand on the back end.
($220) Good medium red. Exotic aromas of redcurrant liqueur, flowers, minerals, brown spices and mint. Silky and suave on entry, then bright and fine-grained in the middle, with terrific energy. Velvety-smooth but not quite thick. The longest of these 2001s today, building inexorably, with the very fine tannins spreading out horizontally to saturate the palate. A wonderfully elegant, sweet La Morra Barolo in the making. (The 2001 Sarmassa di Barolo was completely mute on the nose and impenetrable in the middle palate, with its huge tannins currently overshadowing its raspberry fruit. I will wait to taste this wine in its finished form.) Other Recommended Barolos and Barbarescos: