As a label, Motaribaldi is a relative newcomer to Barbaresco's wine pantheon. As producers, on the other hand, the Taliano Family has been around for quite some time, and before the "kids," Luciano and Roberto, decided to begin bottling in the mid-1990s the grapes from their 19 hectares of vineyards were eagerly sought out by the likes of Gaja, Prunotto, and others along those lines.
As is often the case with good wineries, it's best to let the wines, which I tasted following a tasting session at Alba Wines this spring, speak for themselves, with an occasional observation thrown in.
At the outset they fermented in cement:
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 1995
This was their second vintage. Dusky almandine with orange in the rim. The bouquet is rich, with elegant red berry fruit supported by clean tart accents and some greenish overlay, also green leather and the beginnings of leaf tobacco with pleasant spice and acidity as well. Still quite young, with considerable freshness. On the palate it's ample and rich, with powerful, bright cherry fruit supported by delicate berry fruit acidity, and by clean spice, while the tannins are quite smooth, approaching the fist of steel in a velvet glove that is the ideal definition of Nebbiolo. The finish is fairly long, and quite deft. Very nice, and vibrantly young, though there is an element of coarseness to it that is a reflection of the vintage. It will drink very well with succulent red meats, in particular grilled red meats or hearty stews, including game, and has a long life ahead of it
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 1996
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich green leather and hints of leaf tobacco mingled with spice and slight red berry fruit mingled with dried flowers and hints of underbrush. Great depth, and much to plumb. On the palate it's quite elegant, with rich red berry fruit supported by clean deft slightly mineral acidity and by tannins that are extremely smooth, and lead into a clean rich berry fruit finish. Very nice, combining elegance, grace and finesse, and extremely pleasant to drink now, though if one were fortunate enough to have several bottles one could age most of them for many more years. It will drink well with foods, but is also a wine one could enjoy with like-minded friends.
In 1997 they introduced fermentation in steel, with temperature regulation:
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 1997
Deep black almandine with dusky ruby reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, with clean rich green leather supported by some pungent accents and by intriguing hints of hardwood ash and smoke that are likely the wood used, coupled with savory accents that add depth, and red berry fruit that helps bind it all together. It's quite muscular, and revolves more around power than finesse. On the palate it's ample and rich, with powerful red berry fruit supported by clean sweet berry fruit acidity and by rich, chewy tannins that flow into a clean deft berry fruit finish. It's quite elegant, in a muscular key, clearly revealing the power of the vintage, which makes it more approachable than the 96, though perhaps less interesting (for me) -- it's louder, but less refined, and this is a general characteristic of 97 with respect to 96.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 1998
In 1998 there were thunderstorms that soaked the vineyards before the harvest. Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim -- it's a little lighter than the 97. The bouquet is fairly rich, with green leather mingled with some leaf tobacco and slight sea salt mingled with dried prunes and carob; it's not as rich as the 97, and also a bit more mature - more than the 96 too - with considerable balance and elegance. On the palate it's ample and rich, with clean smooth cherry plum fruit supported by moderately intense, rather graceful berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fairly rich finish with some cocoa and carob overtones. Quite nice, but much closer to peaking than either the 97 or the 96.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 1999
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, in a fresher key -- it's much younger than the older wines -- with clean red berry fruit with some brandied berry fruit accents, supported by some green leather and slight citric acidity with pleasant spice that provides direction, and though it's quick to write it displays great harmony and is very pleasant to sniff. Inviting, even, it's like a well-chiseled athlete. On the palate it's ample and rich, with young red berry fruit that gains direction from bright slightly sour berry fruit acidity, and is supported by tannins that are smooth and sweet, but are still a bit young and display a burr that will fade with time. In other words, with time it will reach if not exceed the 1996, but it is several years behind it and simply needs time to reach its optimum expression. It's a wine one could drink now, and very much enjoy, but also hold for many years and enjoy considerably more than one would now.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 2000
Black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, and clearly from a hotter vintage, with warmth and alcohol mingled with spice and hints of green leather, but less fruit than is present in the 1999, while there is instead more smoke, which is more from oak perhaps, and also a bit more spice. On the palate it's ample, but in a very different register, with the fruit much more balsamic and considerably less intense -- lean, even -- the acidity is also warmer and weaker, while the tannins are ample and very smooth in a warm, leaner, greener key than the 1999, and it all flows into a much warmer finish. It's clearly from a much warmer vintage than the 1999, and as a result displays less depth, and is simpler. It will also be shorter lived, though (by comparison with many 2000s that I have tasted) it does display considerable depth. But it is weaker than the 99, or the 96, and as a consequence is also more aggressive.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 2001
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim that's actually fairly far into orange. They say that 2001 didn't start out well, with cold weather and rain, which was fixed by the final weeks before the harvest that turned everything around. The bouquet is quite elegant, displaying great finesse with rich slightly greenish berry fruit supported by bright sour berry fruit acidity and by clean spice. Very pleasant to sniff, though also very young, and clearly has a long way to go. On the palate it's ample and bright, with rich red berry fruit with hints of brandied fruit supported by deft red currant acidity and by tannins that are smooth and sweet, and though it's not as charged as the 99; it's lithe and supple, like a dancer, and displays great elegance and poise. A delight to drink; a fellow taster says it's shorter, and he's right, but one can take a second sip.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 2002
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and a fair amount of almandine in the rim. The bouquet is greenish, with spice and some bell pepper greenness supported by peppery spice. It's obviously a cool weather vintage, and in some ways brings to mind the high mountain Nebbiolo of the Alta Piemonte. On the palate it's ample, and fairly rich, with clean bright berry fruit supported by moderate slightly greenish acidity, and by smooth slightly greenish tannins that flow into a clean slightly greenish finish. It's elegant, in an underripe cool weather key, and though one would not want to age it, it does display considerable grace and will drink well with foods over the next few years. Harmonious and balanced, within this context, and I found it growing upon me.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 2003
Fairly deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, with overripe cherry and forest berry fruit supported by slight greenish accents, with not much in the way of acidity -- an overripe puppy. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with rich jammy berry fruit supported by clean soft acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean rather bitter finish. It's not out of whack, but obviously the child of a hot vintage that had a profound influence on what went into the bottle.
Montaribaldi Barbaresco Sorì Montaribaldi 2004
Lively black almandine with black reflections and some orange in the rim. The bouquet is lively, and quite young, with rich red berry fruit mingled with prunes, supported by clean balsamic acidity that's fresh but also rather aggressive -- a sign of youth -- and some animal tang. Promising, though frightfully young. On the palate it's full, with rich red berry fruit directed by deft berry fruit acidity that has hints of rhubarb to it, and supported by clean sweet tannins that still have a youthful peppery burr, and flow into a clean sweet tannic finish. It's very young, but promises to become quite elegant with time; it's one of those wines that one could drink now with succulent roasts or stews, but it will richly reward those with the patience to give it time. By comparison with some of the others it's a little more rustic now, but I think it has great potential for the future.
86-8 now, and it is climbing.
Montaribaldi Sorì Monteribaldi Barbaresco 2005 DOCG
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with a well balanced mixture of cedar and red berry fruit supported by some red berry fruit acidity and vegetal accents. Young, but promising. On the palate it's fairly rich, with bright berry fruit supported by moderate red berry fruit acidity and bitter accents, while the tannins are clean and cedar laced, flowing into a decidedly bitter finish. It's young, and needs at least a year to get its bearings -- two would be better. By comparison with the 2004 its smoother and a bit less aggressive -- the 2004 is has more zing to it, and at present is brasher and more angular, With time, I think the 04 will develop more strongly than the 05 -- there's more to it. This said, a score for the 2005: 87
After tasting through Barbaresco, we moved on to their other wines:
Montaribaldi Righei Moscato D'Asti 2007
Pale brassy gold with white highlights and fine perlage. The bouquet is elegant, with clean honeysuckle mingled with honeydew melon and loquat, and a fair amount of sugar as well. Inviting. On the palate it's rich, with creamy honeydew melon fruit supported by clean sweetness that gains direction from loquat acidity, and is supported by sparkle that confers a delicately creamy mouthfeel that goes on at considerable length. I'd have liked, perhaps, a little more sparkle and acidity, but it is quite harmonious and my objection is a quibble, because I could easily down a bottle, especially accompanied by creamy cheeses.
Montaribaldi Capurnal Roero Arneis 2007
Brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is quite young -- it has been recently bottled -- with greenish accents mingled with grapefruit and herbal accents. On the palate it's bright, with lively grapefruit fruit supported by brisk acidity and by clean savory accents that flow into a clean slightly bitter finish. Pleasant, and will drink nicely with cheese or egg based antipasti, creamy risotti and similar, and also white meats, either fishy or fowl.
Montaribaldi Stissa D'Le Fàvole Langhe Chardonnay 2006
Brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is bright, with clean citric acidity mingled with some petroleum and underlying minerality of the sort one smells when striking a block of granite, and bitter butterscotch. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich mineral acidity supported by clean mineral accents and some bitter tannins derived from the barrels in which some (about 40%) fermented, and it flows into a clean fairly bitter finish. It will drink well as an aperitif, with fairly rich antipasti, or with succulent fish -- fried, for example, or even fried meats and vegetables.
Montaribaldi Nicolini Dolcetto D'Alba 2006
Lively purple ruby with brilliant ruby rim. The bouquet is bright, with lively violets mingled with savory accents and rich berry fruit, which gains definition from clean bitter almonds. Zesty, and quite inviting. On the palate it's rich, with lively bright red berry fruit supported by clean bitterness and by ample tannins that flow into a clean tannic finish that gains definition from underlying bitterness that continues at length. Quite nice, and will drink very well with all sorts of things, from hearty pasta dishes through fagioli all'uccelletto (Tuscan beans with sausages) and on up to simple grilled meats. Expect the bottle to go quickly. Worth seeking out
Montaribaldi La Consolina Barbera d'Asti 2006
Lively ri with black reflections and ruby rim. The bouquet is bright, with lively berry fruit supported by considerable lemony grapefruit acidity, cut flowers - violets in particular - and some wet underbrush as well, which adds depth and complexity. Intriguing. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite bright, with lively red berry fruit -- a mix of cherries and raspberries -- supported by deft raspberry acidity and by moderately intense smooth tannins that flow into a fairly long warm tart finish. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with a wide variety of foods ranging from pasta dishes through grilled meats and light stews. Worth seeking out.
Montaribaldi Dü Gir Barbera D'Alba 2006
This spent 16 months in wood, a mixture of old and new. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and lively cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, with chocolaty notes mingled with brisk acidity and a fair amount of cedar, with underlying berry fruit. But the oak predominates, at least in this early post-bottling phase. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with fairly irch berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that do have a vanilla component from wood, and by moderately intense acidity that flows into a clean slightly bitter berry fruit finish with underlying cedar. It's pleasant, and display excellent command of oak, but I found the Consolina more enjoyable. A judgment call, and personal preference, but I have to say what I think, and, this said, Dü Gir will drink well with roasts or stews.
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Between Here And There - I took this shot during the Pelleginaggio Artusiano in the spring of 2011. The mirror is somewhere between Castrocaro Terme and Portico di Romagna (on the ...
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