2008 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra
Expert Rating
ST 96 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Stephen Tanzer's Top 6 Barolos of 2008
Wine Price Score
Conterno Fantino Barolo Sori Ginestra $110 96+
Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra $60 96
Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino $350 95-96
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva $210 95+
Paolo Scavino Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata Riserva $175 95
Aldo Conterno Barolo Romirasco $225 94+
96 Points and Domenico Clerico's "Modernist" Barolo

Barolo takes its name from a small hamlet of about 800 inhabitants in Piedmont. Eleven communes dot the hillsides of a topographical bowl, including Barolo, La Morra, Serralunga d'Alba and Novello. All Barolo is made entirely of Nebbiolo, a notoriously capricious variety that's known both for its rich, aromatic complexity, and its late-maturing disposition.

Up until the early 1990s, Barolo — the acknowledged King of Italy's red wines — was somewhat of a crapshoot. In difficult vintages, Nebbiolo failed to reach full maturity, making for rustic, acidic wines that were often left in cask for as much as a decade. While the extended time in wooden vats provided the oxygen exchange to soften tannins, it also contributed to accelerated oxidation. When we first began drinking Barolos in the late 1970s, three bottles out of five were brick-ish in color, dried out, and prematurely oxidized.

But 30 years ago, a group of renegade Piedmontese winegrowers began experimenting with a different approach for the farming and making of Barolo. Led by the likes of Elio Altare, Domenico Clerico, Paolo Scavino, Angelo Gaja and Roberto Voerzio, this new modernist school looked to Bordeaux and to the New World for their winegrowing recipe.

In the vineyards, the Modernists trimmed back yields and pulled leaves aggressively, pushing the envelope on maturity, the effect of which was multi-fold. The Nebbiolo clusters at harvest were riper. Natural sugars were higher, while acids were somewhat lower. In the cellar, Altare, Clerico and Scavino began experimenting with warm fermentations of short duration, all conducted in a roto-fermentor that had been designed specifically for the new stars of Piedmont.

The Barolos released by the Modernists in the mid-1990s changed the face of the appellation. The wines were not only far darker in color than the traditional style, but they were far more plump and lush. Naysayers claimed that the new school was denuding wines of a sense of place. But critics — led by Robert Parker, Jr. and Stephen Tanzer — applauded the new approach, publishing rave reviews that sent collectors and importers scrambling across the globe.

The winter of 2007-2008 was cold and wet, a pattern that continued into early spring. April and May were also cool, and flowering was two weeks behind. A rainy June provided little respite. The Modernists, led by Domenico Clerico, took to the vines with a vengeance, opening up leaf canopies, enhancing exposure to the sun. From the first of July to mid-August, temperatures remained mild, and the vines remained a full 2-3 weeks behind the norm.

Domenico Clerico But, as we've reported so often, particularly in the case of these late-maturing varieties, vintage stories are largely told in the weeks just before harvest. The weather turned on a dime around August 15th, bathing the steep limestone hillsides of Monforte in sunshine. Days were hot, but just as importantly, nights were unusually chilly. Clerico reported a diurnal temperature shift of nearly 35 degrees. As sugars spiked, the cold nights kept acids firm. Domenico, as has long been his practice, would wait well into the third week of October before harvesting a tiny crop of pristine Nebbiolo, making for one of the greatest single-vineyard Barolos of his storied career.

The 2008 Domenico Clerico Ciabot Mentin Barolo is ruby/purple to the rim, infused with plush aromas of black cherry, plum, tobacco and rose petals. Rich, dense and marvelously accessible on the attack, filled with a luscious mix of black currant, crushed red fruits, sweet spice and chocolate, finishing with typical Modernist flash — round, supple and sumptuous.

A whopping 96 points from the toughest critic on the planet, Stephen Tanzer, making this the International Wine Cellar's top-rated Barolo of the year.

Tasting Notes

2008 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra
"Medium red. Deeper and richer on the nose than the Pajana, with scents of redcurrant, mocha, dried flowers and earth. Wonderfully deep, layered and sweet; lush but with good limestone lift. This floods the palate with flavor and lingers with exceptional purity and persistence."
96 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

"The 2008 Domenico Clerico Ciabot Mentin Barolo is ruby/purple to the rim, infused with plush aromas of black cherry, plum, tobacco and rose petals. Rich, dense and marvelously accessible on the attack, filled with a luscious mix of black currant, crushed red fruits, sweet spice and chocolate, finishing with typical Modernist flash — round, supple and sumptuous. Drink now-2022."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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