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Tasting Notes

Here are a few remaining Barolos from the great vintages of 1989 and 1990. Prices are suggested retail and may vary.

* 1989 Marcarini “La Serra” ($26)--Power and richness, with traces of currants, tar, roses and earthy notes. Deep, rich, concentrated aroma with a trace of jam and blackberry. Very big, unctuous taste, but there’s a load of tannin and acid. A wine for the next century.

* 1989 Renato Ratti “Marcenasco” ($32)--Exotic aroma of Far East spices and fruit of blackberry and violets, with cedar and sandalwood notes. Marcenasco, a single-vineyard wine, is always more deeply complex than Ratti’s “ normale ,” non-vineyard-designate, yet shows the elegance of the house. Still, despite the use of the word “elegant” here, the wine’s aftertaste is pretty astringent and drying. Needs another decade.

* 1990 Renato Ratti ($28)--Pure grace (if that word may be used for any Barolo), with red currant and strawberry aroma notes, fresh fruit on the tongue and a bright, tasty level of fruit in the mid-palate. It’ll still age, but not as long as others.

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* 1989 Giuseppe Rinaldi “Brunate” ($44)--Powerful fruit aroma of black cherry and tar, with a load of violets evident after the wine airs for a few minutes. Explosive richness on the tongue, and hints of clove, nutmeg and jam in the aftertaste. A surprisingly impressive wine for a producer not well known in the United States.

* 1990 Giuseppe Rinaldi “Brunate” ($48)--More closed in than the previous wine, but packed with depth and subtleties, evident in the finish. Rich and dense. Another decade will smooth it out.

* 1990 Cantine Ascheri ($18)--Big, powerful aroma in a lighter styled wine. There’s a trace of jam and cherry fruit here, but the texture is a lot lighter than some. Better in a year or two; a great wine for those who have never tasted Barolo before. Serve with beef or game.

Also tasted: 1990 Angelo Gaja “Sperss” ($68)--A most complex wine that is still in transition. Powerful notes of black cherry and toast with hints of meaty, roasted game elements. Opens up to reveal more depth and concentration, showing masterful handling of the new oak barrels. Not quite as rich, fruity and ripe as the 1989 version, but a monumental wine. To be released in April in small amounts.

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