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2003-phobes: Before you run away, please read-on! You could be in for a happy surprise!
There was some risk involved, but we put our money where our mouth is (“producer, producer, producer”) and bought a few cases of Brovia’s 2003 Barolos. Many much-followed critics loved the vintage, but 2003 is not our favorite anywhere. We’ve recently tasted a number of Barolos that continue to reflect the intense heat of that summer, but also a couple that showed very well and were generally encouraging – B. Mascarello, and G. Rinaldi, for example.
In any case we’re happy (and relieved): the Brovia wines are very good. We doubt that it would be easy for even experienced tasters to identify the year. There are no signs of a hot vintage’s common combination (for Nebbiolo) of high alcohol and under-ripe tannin. The wines are now in an early phase of their maturity, and as a group they tend toward a savory and restrained expression. At first quite austere and reminiscent of (say) 2004, after 6+ hours they really began to blossom, and they continued to improve over the 2 hours of our tasting. This is a good opportunity to taste (and perhaps cellar) some wines that are entering their maturity. Given the inherent wisdom of “producer, producer, producer”, we’re not very surprised, but we are happy! Jamie Wolff
The Barolo shows some aromatic finesse; on the palate there’s decent transparency but it’s a bit chunky and solid and could benefit from a few more years in the cellar – or at least a longer decant than the 5 hours we gave it. Jamie Wolff
There’s no heat from alcohol, and none of the burnt or stewed character that one would anticipate in the vintage; instead the Rocche is typically elegant, with fine tannin and very attractive light-medium weight. A second taste an hour later (after the wine had been decanted for 6-7 hours) was more open and gave hints of real underlying complexity – the wine has a way to go. Jamie Wolff
I would never guess this was from a hot vintage. The Villero is quite aromatic, showing orange peel, rose, and clean earthy and mushroomy aromas, supported by elegant tannin. Still quite firm and austere, but distinct and appealing. Jamie Wolff
This is a very good example of Garblet Sue; although it’s structured the wine has citrusy lift that really balances a somewhat dark core and brings classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors to the fore. Garblet Sue is usually the Brovia wine I admire more than dream about, but the 2003 is terrific. Jamie Wolff
As you might expect, the Ca’ Mia is the most structured of the Brovia 2003’s, with a lot of depth and richness. It’s quite savory, with some dark fruit and a lot of chalky mineral, making for a rich but still rather severe wine. I think this is an excellent wine – just leave it in your cellar for a few more years. Jamie Wolff