This is wine. This is everything wine should be. This is a Barolo, but not just any Barolo.
There’s a first time for everything: for Eureka!, epiphanies, time traveling, time stopping, love, head stands, opera and vertigo. I didn’t think wine could do that, all in one. To be prepared would be ridiculous. The wine was alive, humming colors, whispering fragments of spice and herbs, tingling my brain and pulling apart my thoughts like the machine that kneads la guimauve (Amelie, anyone?):
I had to close my eyes to listen. It took time. It got better and better- not clearer, just deeper down the rabbit hole. I thought. A lot. About what? I couldn’t say, it wasn’t linear. Like looking at a painting or hearing a piece of music that haunts you, taunts you, you hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it, it’s so hard to figure out. And when I got there (if I did), I only understood that I wouldn’t be able to describe it in words.
Farmed organically, fermented with indigenous yeasts without temperature control in his grandfather’s ancient, upright casks (tini), hand-punching the must and aging in large, very old, Slavonian oak botti– none of these are advertised gimmicks, rather the tried and true methods he lives by. No wonder vitners like Elizabetta Foradori see him as a mentor.
This bottle was particularly special to me because it is one of the last vintages to be produced as a Brunate-Le Coste, one of two styles of Rinaldi Barolo. It is essentially a blend of two crus, or vineyard plots, that are carefully blended together just before bottling. 2009 was his last bi-cru vintage, because Italian law has changed and acquired similar regulations to France’s appellation contrôlée (esp. in Burgundy), where bi-cru wines are forbidden. More specifically, the wine can only cite 1 vineyard on the label’s bottle, which must be at least 85% of what’s inside. Otherwise, no specific vineyard can be listed. Giuseppe, furious with the change, had to make some tough calls. He and his daughters Carlotta and Marta decided to continue the Brunate at 85% and 15% Le Coste, and another wine (previously the other blend Cannubi-S.Lorenzo) will now be a blend of the remaining Le Coste, Cannubi and San Lorenzo called “Barolo di Barolo”. In a politically charged statement, he may add “Tretine” to the label, a made-up word that suggests it was made from 3 crus. I wonder if he’s ever spoken with Olivier Cousin…
It would be an honor to meet Giuseppe Rinaldi. I want to know more of his passion for wine, his inspiration, how he understands time. He remains without email, twitter, mobile, or any other modern form of communication, for as are his wines, he is the essence of a living tradition.