Had any good 03s from Italy lately?

Above: Tracie P tasting at Giuseppe Mascarello with winemaker and owner Mauro Mascarello, on a crisp winter day in February 2010. We were invited to taste there with Italy’s inestimable wine blogger and wine pundit Mr. Franco Ziliani.

However lost in translation, my post on Monday led to an earthly discussion of who bottled good expressions of the 2003 vintage in Italy and a metaphysical dialectic on whether or not one should drink 2003 at all, when stellar vintages like 1999, 2001, or 2005 are within hand’s reach.

Above: Perhaps an anomaly, perhaps the child of a superior growing site and excellence in winemaking, Mauro Mascarello’s 2003 Barolo Monprivato was no fluke.

Was 2003 a forgettable vintage in Italy? Questions of taste literally aside, the wine punditry on both sides of the Atlantic has spent a lot of energy and time talking about the 2003 vintage (in part because of the controversy it stirred).

Above: Only a handful of winemakers made their top wines in 2003, but, man, what wines they were! Like this 2003 Brunello di Montalcino Paganelli by Tenuta Il Poggione (Tracie P and I tasted it over dinner with winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci in February).

Of course, 2003 was a poor vintage because of the aggressive heat that year, almost across the board throughout Europe. But that also means that many winemakers, who didn’t make their flagship wines, used their top fruit for their other wines. As Gary put it so well, “I think that 2003 presents an interesting opportunity to pick up some amazing bargains at the peak of their drinkability, but one must be very picky, and try before buy.”

I’m certainly not stocking my cellar with 03s but over the last months (and even the last few days), I have had some great 03s: like the Oddero Barolo the other night, 03 Barbaresco by Produttori del Barbaresco, 03 Barolo Monprivato by G. Mascarello, 03 Brunello di Montalcino Paganelli by Il Poggione, and 03 Barbera del Monferrato Perlydia by Valpane (the last three are all “flagship” wines, btw). While not all of these are going to cellar as well as 99, 01, and 05 (and 04 IMHO), they are by no means wines I’d turn down if someone happened to open one in my presence. In fact, they are more approachable and drinkable (as Gary points out) than their more cellar-worthy counterparts.

Have you had any good 03s lately from Italy? Please share so that I don’t have to feel so alone… ;-)

11 thoughts on “Had any good 03s from Italy lately?

  1. I’ve had the 2003 Barbaresco Marcarini from Ca’ del Baio twice over the last couple of months… very delicious. If that was a poor showing, than I can’t wait to try the outstanding vintages. First time I thought I picked up some orange peel as a very intriguing aspect on the nose, the second time around the bottle lasted a little longer and saddle leather made a quite striking appearance after the bottle had had an hour or two to develope.

  2. As with everything, it’s all about the producer. I purchased the ’02 Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello (a vintage more maligned than ’03) and it was delicious. ’03 was also an excellent vintage for Amarone. As with Mascarello and Poggione, trust the producers you respect. If it wasn’t good they probably wouldn’t release it. I’ve found ’03 to be a good restaurant vintage because the wines are open and forward.

    BTW- Missed you at the Bea afterparty in Houston @ 13C. Giampiero was in fine form pimping Vodopivic.

  3. I certainly don’t want to give away the names of my faves from 03, since I want them all to myself :), but I have to say – I had 2003 Villa le Prata Brunello di Montalcino twice, and it was amazingly perfumy, lovely Brunello, perhaps just a touch fruitier than typical, but with great acid, and just that “deliciousness” factor that cannot be denied.

  4. 2003 Massa Barbera Colli Tortonesi “Monleale” – I had a bottle a couple of months ago and would have never guessed it was from an “off” vintage. I’ll save the last bottle for a time when you and Tracie P visit.

  5. Ciao Jeremy,
    tra ì 2003 più interessanti recentemente riassaggiati:
    Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2003 Biondi Santi,Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2003 Contucci,Montevertine 2003(straordinario,puro,commovente,in pieno stile Gambelli..insomma uno dei più bei sangiovese 2003 dei miei ricordi).
    Da Nebbiolo dipendente concordo con te su Monprivato 2003.
    Come stai?
    spero tu riesca a venire presto a Lucca!

  6. Jeremy
    I drank a bottle of the Cappellano Rupestris 2003. It had MUCH blacker (almost prune-ish) fruit than usual and is drinking nicely.

  7. I’ve been enjpyong the La Ca Nova “Broic Mentina” Barbaresco. They did a great job with that wine. And then there’s a great little Montepiulcoano I recently had. But that’s another story.

  8. I absolutely agree about the Cappellano Rupestris 2003 – dark, ripe and very pleasurable. Schiavenzas Prapò and Broglio 2003 are also really nice drinkers.
    Roagnas Barbaresco Pajé 2003 is a masterpiece in my book, astonishing balance and extremely focused fruit.


  9. Thanks you Geremia for the mention of the Brunello di Montalcino Paganelli. We are content that you and Tracey have enjoyed our wine!

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