Barolo is a wine I buy regularly. For the quality it may be the best value truly apex terroir-driven red left in Europe. In contrast, my drinking habits for Barolo are unstable. I either get consumed by the wines in a fit of exploration and detail-driven love. Or, I leave the wines untouched for an extended period. There is no in-between.
The early wave of 2011’s brought me into a consumption phase. The early-drinking vintage surprised me for its combined plush exuberance with total authenticity to the variety. Most wines from the best producers were a joy to drink – a perfect juxtaposition to the potent and tannic 2010’s and the elegant and structured 2012s.
I am now on the last of my 2011s, and all signs point to ‘drink up soon’.
Giacomo Fenocchio is a well respected producer of good value Barolo from some of the best crus in Barolo, including Villero, Faletto, and Bussia. The Fenocchio wines are certainly transparent and on the more traditionalist side of the spectrum – think long 40-day macerations and aging in steel and large Slavonian Botti. I tend not to place this producer in the upper ranks, but some bottles have truly surprised.
On top of the vintage, Bussia is known as an earlier drinking site. It seems Fenocchio’s wine from this great cru is already starting to fade. Bricking red and an extremely soft palate give way to a short finish. This is still Barolo, but it is missing the complex aromatics and forward momentum that makes Nebbiolo truly great. The wine will pair fairly easily, but I would give this particular vintage of Fenocchio a pass for many other 2011s that fared much better such as Brovia, Vietti, Chiara Boscis, Renato Ratti, or Alessandria. The wine is a perfect example of why a vintage like 2011 needs to be consumed in short order and cannot compare to the likes of 2010, 2012, or 2013. But there is great joy in the ‘now’ and 2011 Barolo facilitates just that.
Very Good to Very Good+
$78 at Marquis