2001 Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Bussia (RT 94) Of all the surprises of the weekend, this took honors, showing a level of excellence I simply didn’t expect. SO’d for the day, then decanted right before serving. Showing a marvelously developed, mature bouquet with notes of bright red raspberry, sous bois, hints of leather and a classic dried white floral aspect. The palate was rich and lovely, very well fruited and showing excellent balance and beautifully sweet tannins on the finish providing the exclamation mark. I quite honestly never expected a showing of this caliber from Conterno’s normale’ bottling. A stand out bottle, reminding me of the greatness of this vintage and of this producer. Wow! Drink now – 2031. This vintage is currently available in the $100+ range, current vintages (2013 & 2014) are available in the mid-$60s to upper $80s.

2001 Bussola, Recioto della Amarone, TB (rating 97) An impressive dessert wine crafted from a diverse blend of 60% Corvina & Corvinone, 10% Rondinella, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Dindarella, 3% Croatina and a smattering of different indigenous varieties. SO’d in the afternoon, then served directly from bottle, it paired magnificently with a decadent chocolate cake. And while the cake was magical, the Bussola completely defied imagination. Deeply pigmented and bordering on pitch black, it shows an incredibly pungent bouquet of red raspberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, figs, raisins and classic Valpolicella smoke. The palate was equally marvelous with exquisite richness, fantastic balance and perfectly offsetting acidity and tannin. Simply stunning! Drink now – 2040+ This vintage is available in the $100-range (for a 500 ml bottle), but in more recent vintages Bussola has added a basic Recioto Classico (different label than the brown label TB) which retails in the $35-60 range. With the introduction of this lesser Classico bottling the TB version has become increasingly difficult to source.