Bottle Notes

Pick My Next Bottle – 1997 Barolo

1997 Barolo

The February installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 1997 Barolo. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. I plan on opening the winning bottle on February 27th and publishing an in-depth Bottle Note on the 28th.

The 1997 vintage was an extremely hot and dry year. Many winemakers were experimenting with French oak, low yields and short maceration times. The resulting wines were showy, albeit an anomaly when compared to the ’96 and ’98 vintages.

James Suckling of the Wine Spectator scored the vintage 99 points, but in recent years ageability of wines has been called into question – Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator recently downgraded the vintage from 99 to 93. That said, all the wines below scored very well in Suckling’s 2007 10-year Barolo retrospective.

The Contenders

’97 Pio Cesare – Ranked #7 in the “Top 100 Wines” of 2001. Medium red, with hints of garnet on the edge. Aromas of very ripe strawberry, with cedar, dried mushroom and spices. Fabulous roses on the nose. Full-bodied, with seductive flavors and textures. Strawberry, tea, tar and roses galore, yet refined and subtle. So very long and dense, yet balanced and beautiful. 95 points from the Wine Spectator.

’97 Clerico Ciabot Mentin Ginestra – The 1997 Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra is a fearsomely powerful, tannic, ultra-concentrated, explosively rich wine with a mid-palate in which one could get lost. A saturated ruby/purple color is accompanied by scents of lead pencil, cedar, black fruits, smoke, earth, and vanilla. Massive richness, monster extract, sweet tannin, and a blockbuster finish characterize this dazzling, 20-30 year wine. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

’97 Paolo Scavino Carobric – Dark ruby red color. Complex aromas of crushed berry, rose bush and Indian spices. Full-bodied, with ultrafine tannins and powerful, rich fruit, with a fresh herb and mushroom undertone. Very stylish and soulful. 96 points from the Wine Spectator.

Which 1997 Barolo should I open?

  • Pio Cesare (53%, 23 Votes)
  • Paolo Scavino Carobric (37%, 16 Votes)
  • Clerico Ciabot Mentin Ginestra (9%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to hear why you picked one bottle over another. And please let me know if you have any suggestions for the March installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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12 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – 1997 Barolo

  1. 1997 was considered a terrific year for Barolo, as you point out. I think some of the listed wines could use 20 years of aging. However, at around 15 years of age, some are ready to enjoy now. Of course, it all depends on how you like your Barolo. At 20 years, Barolo is more like aged Burgundy with plenty of secondary nuances. At 15 years, Barolo should be open but with loads of fruit and power. I pick the Scavino Carobric as being the most drinkable now out of the three. I know the Scavino Bric del Fiasc needs 20 years. The Carobric is built to drink earlier than the Fiasc, I believe. But, the Carobric can age as well. The Scavino Carobric should be a beautiful wine right around now. Enjoy!

  2. The Pio’s descriptor sounds more romantic. Plus, it appears to be in the sweet spot for drinking now more than the others.

  3. Pio Cesare as it would be the wine I would choose to drink myself. It sounds very classic although one has to consider the source of the review too. Whatever is selected will no doubt be amazing

  4. Hi Tom,
    The Pio Cesare got my vote, I can’t offer a great reason for this, it just caught my eye. (as would bottles in a wine shop).

  5. Hi Tom,

    I’m thinking that with the very hot autumn, the ’97 vintage is going to show very ripe fruit and perhaps less acidity fior which Nebbiolo is so keenly prized. Based on the descriptions, I’d go for the Paolo Scavino Carobric. The Pio Cesare seems the most classical of the lot, with the most grace and finesse and potential for development, with finer tannins and acidity. The Clerico Ciabot Mentin Ginestra is on the opposite end – that power would probably benefit from aging to settle down and balance out – though if the fruit is overripe, it may not matter much. Descriptors like “massive” and “monster” make me shift uncomfortably ;)
    So, Goldilocks opts for the Paolo Scavino Carobric as seeming just right – combination of the powerful fruit of that vintage with graceful tannins that are just right for the drinking.

    Can’t wait to find out which you choose and how it shows!



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