Quick question regarding old Barolo

Short notice here, but need to throw this question out there. I'm attending an Italian dinner tonight with Shaferguy91, Latour67, Arkansasdoc and a couple other friends. I'm considering bringing a 1949 Francesco Rinaldi e Figli Barolo that I've had stood up for a few days. I know this bottle can be a crapshoot on quality, but this bottle has been sourced with great provenance and looks as good as a bottle can with this kind of age. Alright, to you guys with experience opening older wines, preferably Barolos, what would be my best approach in making this bottle perform to the best of it's ability? Slow oxygen method, pop and pour, decant? Thanks in advance.
Original Post
Hope it went well. We made the mistake of traveling with a 64 Giacomo Conterno Barolo. The sediment ended up breaking down in the wine with the travel. It needed days to settle back out. Unfortunately we opened it at an offline and the wine was quite cloudy.
There is an issue here I have faced. You stand the bottle up for some time so the sediment can get to the bottom. Then, you carefully carry it out to the car. Then, you start the car and travel over various bumps, thus, stirring the wine.
So, the thing to do is to stand it up for some time, then open at home, decant it into a decanter thus removing the sediment for the most part. You can bring the decanter and, if you wish, the empty bottle.
Or, bring the bottle to the restaurant a day early and have them stand it up and leave it there until dinner.
Thanks guys and I'm so self conscious about this very thing. I find myself walking very slow to the car with the wine then driving extra slow to the restaurant trying to dodge holes or bumps in the road. Haha! what a geek I've become Smile I decided against bringing this bottle after thinking it should have been stood up for a longer amount of time. I instead went with a 1985 Mascarello Barolo that drank beautifully. You can read my impressions of the wines on what are you drinking thread.
Food for thought from Maria Teresa Mascarello, daughter of the great barolista Bartolo Mascarello on old botles:
"Decanting an older or old vintage is traumatic for the wine. It's like going up to an eighty-five year old person and shaking him or her violently, It is harmful, if not to say life-threatening." as quoted by Kerin O'Keefe in her book Brunello di Montalcino.
quote:
Originally posted by Simonbeve:
Food for thought from Maria Teresa Mascarello, daughter of the great barolista Bartolo Mascarello on old botles:
"Decanting an older or old vintage is traumatic for the wine. It's like going up to an eighty-five year old person and shaking him or her violently, It is harmful, if not to say life-threatening." as quoted by Kerin O'Keefe in her book Brunello di Montalcino.


I'd probably opt for the stand it for several days, then very gently decant, rinse out the bottle (filtered or distilled water), then recork with a current synthetic cork from a cheap bottle right before leaving for the restaurant. Board O makes a good point about checking it and having a backup available. A wine this old shouldn't need oxygen. Once at the restaurant, I'd be checking how it is in the glass right away. I've also done the 'take it to the restaurant a day or two ahead' approach but with a 47, I'd be tempted to take the approach above.

Enjoy
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Sounds like Mascarello ...likes to drink sediment.

True. Maria Teresa, like her father and many great barolisti such as Bruno Giacosa, loves what you call "sediment". Called in local dialect fund d'buta or fund d'la buta (fondo della bottiglia in italian or end of the bottle in english), it is the custom of the Langhe to give guests the end of a previously opened bottle of old Barolo or Barbaresco. They leave the fondo for up to 2 weeks in the bottle standing up by putting the cork back, and if the wine is great it is an amazing experience. I had the honor to be offered a drop of a magnum 1964 Barolo Bartolo Mascarello, while visiting him a few years back and that crunchy little "sediment" still sits vividly in my memory. From then on I stick to the way these great producers drink their own wine: never decant and drink/eat the crunchy stuff. They prepare their bottles in advance by standing them up for a few days and then open them a few hours before consumption after having tasted the wine, which also serves the purpose to let a bit more air in. Even in restaurants they always have been very happy to not decant and let me bring home the bottle with the fondo (less work for them) and I have also discovered that the "sediment" is great to flavor the risotto.
A little late to the party on this one. I would not decant a bottle this old unless I was in a position to begin consuming it immediately. Even a very gentle decant is going to start the process of oxygenating the wine, and at this age it might start fading quickly after decanting. That said, if the bottle has been stood up for a good while I'd probably just pour into glasses straight from the bottle. You might pick up a skosh of the sediment in the final pour, but no big deal. It ain't gonna kill you.

PH
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
A little late to the party on this one. I would not decant a bottle this old unless I was in a position to begin consuming it immediately. Even a very gentle decant is going to start the process of oxygenating the wine, and at this age it might start fading quickly after decanting. That said, if the bottle has been stood up for a good while I'd probably just pour into glasses straight from the bottle. You might pick up a skosh of the sediment in the final pour, but no big deal. It ain't gonna kill you.

PH


Totally agree....I would not decant this either.....Nebbiolo is prone to oxidation, especially at that age.....stand it up, pop the cork and let it sit for a bit.
I, for one, would not laugh at the recommendations of people like Maria Teresa Mascarello. I met her at the winery last year and she is a very intelligent and knowledgable producer....
I had a 74 barolo recently. For the record it needed about 30-45 minutes in the glass to open up. Still quite tight. But then it started to fade quickly after about 1.5 hours with the bottle being open. We didn't decant, but did stand the bottle upright for a day or so before hand.
I follow the Mascarello/Giacosa approach: never decant, stand up the bottle in advance, open and take out half a glass and put the cork back in for 2-3 hours. The little air that comes in is enough to open up the wine without killing it. Cabernet-based wines are much more resilient to air and therefore can withstand even violent practices such as double decanting, while nebbiolo and sangiovese-based wines are more delicate and need to be treated accordingly.

Sandy, did you try again the 74 barolo after a few hours or the following day? I have witnessed a few "resurrections" of old barolos.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
I would not decant a bottle this old unless I was in a position to begin consuming it immediately.


Certainly. If you don't decant and pour a glass or two, the sediment will be stirred up into the remainder of the wine. Decanting an old wine necessitates tasting immediately and likely drinking soon. Pouring a glass at a time yields crunchy wine.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
I would not decant a bottle this old unless I was in a position to begin consuming it immediately.


Certainly. If you don't decant and pour a glass or two, the sediment will be stirred up into the remainder of the wine. Decanting an old wine necessitates tasting immediately and likely drinking soon. Pouring a glass at a time yields crunchy wine.


Not necessarily. If I'm planning on pouring the whole bottle right away, it's not too hard to stop mid pour without creating a "back-splash" back into the bottle. It does take a steady hand, though. I did this recently with a 1995 Manzoni Barolo Big that had thrown a ton of sediment. I just lined the 5 glasses up and kept the bottle as level as possible as I proceeded through the pours. Worked just fine. There were a few ounces left at the bottom of the bottle and I just dumped the dregs into a juice glass. By the end of the evening, I grabbed the juice glass and nibbled around the edges of the dregs, crunch and all. Yum.

PH

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