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Feb 12, 2007 08:29 AM

Please help me decide on a vintage Barolo

I am planning on getting my wife a vintage Barolo for Valentines Day. It is her favorite wine so I am looking for something special. My options are limited but I can get one of the following:

1989 Borgogno Barolo Riserva- I will be honest, I am not that familiar with this producer and I am a little concerned that the wine shops in my area that carry the older Barolo all seem to have this available. It is a decent price at $129.00

1952 Borgogno Barolo Riserva- I doubt this is even a serious consideration but it is also available in the $265.00 range. At what point does a Barolo just lose its power?

1970 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monforte D'Alba- I love the producer, and I know his 1999 Monfortino Riserva is legendary, but I don't know if 1970 was a good year.

Cavallotto- The San Giuseppe is available for 1978, 1979 and 1989. I have only had the Cavallotto Nebbiolo D'Alba but it was as good as some barolos I have had.

I would appreciate any input you may have on the above wines or any other recommendations for a special Barolo under $300.00. Thanks group!

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  1. If your wife loves Barolo you may want to make her this sometime (with a non-vintage Barolo, of coarse). It is from Gourmet magazine, I made it last week and it rocked. I figured I would share!

    6 Replies
    1. re: jules127

      Hey! I am just in the middle of making that for dinner. Go figure. Glad to hear that it is good. I used a ripasso valpolicella though, there aren't any decent "low cost" Barolo's available here.

      1. re: jules127

        I have made that twice and it is DIVINE!! Do let it sit for two days in the fridge it is so YUMMY!!

        1. re: chickstein

          Darn. I'll let it sit next time. :) And you are right....It's Awesome. It was a big hit.

        2. re: jules127

          I just made a very similar stew with oxtail and a $7 Barbera, served it with a Nebbiolo / Barbera blend (2003 La Spinetta Pin) and it was wonderful for a freezing cold evening -- very rich -- and it made my apartment smell wonderful. The next day's leftovers were even better!

          1. re: jules127

            I've made that dish twice now. The first time I made it I kept the chuck roast in one piece, as the recipe directs. But trimming the fat off before eating really got in the way. I made it again last weekend, but this time I cut the roast into large cubes and then followed the rest of the recipe. It was WONDERFUL!!! Oh, and I didn't use Barolo for cooking; I used a well-priced Barbera instead. This recipe is a keeper!

            1. re: CindyJ

              Gotta tell the truth-made this recipe, loved it. made it with a boxed wine, cote du rhone what I always cook with. It was still great!

          2. I don't suppose you have a subscription to but in Antonio Galloni's Italy Report (available to subscribers only) one person thought he was buying a 1961 Borgogno Barolo Riserva and when he opened it he thinks he got a 5- to 10-year old generic Nebbiolo.
            If you're a subscriber, he's a link here:

            1. I've had some stunning Baroli from Giacomo Conterno. 1970 was a very good vintage, not an excellent one, but this should still be fine.

              1952 was, IIRC, an excellent vintage (but this is from memory, and I don't have access to my library at the moment to double-check this). Presuming excellent storage -- this is a major concern -- the wine should be great!

              1989 was an outstanding vintage, but it's still too young . . .

              6 Replies
              1. re: zin1953

                Do you know if 1982 was a good year? The limited information I have only goes back to 1988. The reason I ask is that my one wine shop has a 1982 Borgogno that they just told me about. Thanks

                1. re: bobby06877

                  82 was a "fair" year.

                  Of the years listed by the original poster, I would definitely opt for the 1989's. A tremendous vintage year that should be at great drinkability.

                  Second choice would be the 1978, if I'm comfortable with the condition of the bottle, otherwise I'd go with the 1989.

                  IMO, Barolo, while it is quite age-worthy is often very accessible at younger years also. 1989 is almost 18 year old wine and has had plenty of time to mature yet still retain fruitiness and backbone.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    Interesting point you made about the condition of the bottle. Some of these are pretty beat up with faded and/or soiled labels. In a few cases, the cork on the bottle almost appears to have been taped. These choices I excluded. You would go with the 1989 over the 1982? It is a bottle that we may end up drinking sooner rather than later.

                    1. re: bobby06877

                      Hands down I would go with 89 over 82. 1989 is one of the greatest Piedmont vintages of the past 20 years.... I'd actually even prefer a 1990 but you didn't list that on your options...

                      Above all, I would avoid bad corks, seepage, etc. like the plague, btw.... always get the best condition bottle you can find.

                2. re: zin1953

                  >>1989 was an outstanding vintage, but it's still too young . . .<<

                  Amazing how everyone has passed over this insightful comment. Most 1989s and 1990s have barely begun to show the tertiary characteristics that make Barolo worth the money and the wait.

                  1. re: carswell

                    The wine shop where I purchased the Barolos specialize only in Italian wines and their Wine Director recommended that I cellar the 1989 bottle for another 10 years, more if possible. The 1982 was more approachable now but he recommended a little more time on that one as well or extensive decanting time. Unfortunately my wife loves Nebbiolo, in particular Barolo and Barbaresco. I will admit is is frustrating to pay a lot of money for a bottle of wine that you have to wait to drink. Fortunately, she enjoys the much less expensive and available Nebbiolo D'Albas and blends.

                3. If I were you, I would call Italian Wine Merchants in NYC and talk to them.


                  1. Thanks Mike. I resolved the issue by getting both the 1982 and 1989. You only live once.