On this evening I gathered a hard-core group of Italian aficionados for a flight of stunning wines paired with a simple, but delicious dinner prepared in my kitchen: grilled rare prime rib eyes, creamy Anson Mills blue corn polenta with bacon bits & grilled fresh Asparagus. The meal proved an amazing pairing with the wines, which by any measure were world class in every way! A fabulous selection of charcuterie and cheeses accompanied the bubbles, and dessert was a serving of Tiramisu and Tiramisu Crepe Cake, both of which were exceptional.

2001 Giuseppe Rinaldi, Barolo, Brunate-Le Coste (RT 96+) (magnum) SO’d for 24 hours in advance of serving and poured directly from bottle, which proved a prefect strategy for such a firmly built wine from the highly structured 2001 vintage and no less from magnum. It reveals a deep, ruby garnet-tinged hue, as floral driven notes of mentholated red cherry, violets, fresh rose petals, hibiscus and white flowers dominate the bouquet. With time in the glass the intensity builds. The palate is bright, fresh and alluring, with a captivating balance of fruit, acid and ripe, but firm tannin. A beautiful showing for this wine. Drink now-2036+, even longer from magnum.

1999 Giuseppe Mascarello, Barolo, Monprivato (RT 96) I’ve featured this bottling a couple different times on this website, and this bottle was consistent with previous experiences. SO’d for day and served directly from bottle. Showing gorgeously right out of the starting gate, while it reveals a paler shade of ruby garnet, there is no lack of intensity or depth. Notes of classic geranium, dried rose petal, morello cherry and hints of sous bois and terroir-driven minerality lead to a fabulous palate of sweet Nebbiolo fruit, beautiful acidity and firm, but ripe tannin, which I consider a hall mark of the 1999 vintage. The finish is long and alluring. Drink now-2034+

1999 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo, Cascina Francia (RT 97) It’s been a few years since I opened a bottle of this stunning wine. SO’d for the day and served directly from bottle, the Cascina Francia was the slowest of the wines to unwind this evening and took a good hour to really start to strut its stuff. Slightly darker and deeper than the other three, but still turning toward a garnet hue, notes of soaring Bing cherry, a bunch of roses, hints of Serralunga minerality, dried cranberry and hints of green tea and anise lead to a magnificently balanced mouthfeel. With time in the glass it keeps delivering more and more, its freshness impresses. An exceptional balance of fruit, acid and perfectly ripe, sweet tannin provides an enduring finish. Very Impressive! Drink now-2034+

1999 Bruno Giacosa, Barolo, Le Rocche del Falletto (RT 98) SO’d for the day, there was significant sediment, so I gave it a quick splash decant and it was served directly from the narrow decanter. The immediate impression of world class wine making presents itself in spades. The most garnet tinged and lightest hue of this evening’s wines, notes of classic dried black cherry, brown sugar, Christmas spice and dried rose petal attack in waves. The intensity builds as it opens, showing a captivating mouth feel with sweet Nebbiolo fruit, beautiful acidity and a long, sweet, finely managed tannic finish that goes on and on. Despite its power, it presents a weightlessness that is mind boggling. A wine of extraordinary beauty! This was crafted during Bruno Giacosa’s peak and in my mind is perhaps his greatest Normale’ bottling (non Riserva) ever. Drink now-2034+