I’ll be the one to admit it. Despite the glamour of spitting in public, the purple-stained teeth plus a light, but constant, dull headache, wine tastings are just run-of-the-mill affairs. Here’s how it goes 99% of the time. You exchange pleasantries with the winemaker, taste through their wines, swirly swirl, sniffy sniff, chewy chew, spitty spit, a few descriptors and a carefully considered score and you’re onto the next wine. That is unless the next wine is Oddero Barolo Vigna Rionda.
That sounds glib and it is, tasting wine is a real joy, but every now and then something magical happens at a wine tasting. You meet a winemaker, who is so passionate about their land and so enthusiastic about their wines that you can’t help but listen with intrigue. When their patter is backed by the best tasting wine at the event, you are having what I am today coining as, but is never actually said in the wine trade, a “wine moment“!
My most recent “wine moment” (copyright: wine90; 2018) was being held spell-bound by the passionate, charming and impeccably dressed Pietro Oddero at Walter Speller’s Vigna Rionda tasting event at 67 Pall Mall last week. We spent a few minutes talking about the recent vintage in Barolo, about what makes Vigna Rionda so special within Serralunga but when I asked him what it was that made his wines stand out among the ten strong producer line up he was very clear; “passion” and “commitment”. Passion and commitment at all stages of production, from the vineyard to the winery, he believes his family is among the most dedicated to quality in Barolo.
The wines of Oddero have always been of outstanding quality, but Pietro, together with his sister Isabella, are the new generation at Oddero and are breathing fresh life into a brand that, even ten years ago, was not on the cutting edge of wine marketing. The new Oddero website, together with their social media channels and appearance of their entry Barolo at Waitrose, have all helped make Oddero one of the UK’s most recognisable names in Barolo. Marketing aside (did I just say that!), it’s the quality of the 2008 Vigna Rionda that impressed me and without hesitation, I slapped a fat 96 on the wine and committed then and there to buy a case for myself. This wine is only improving over the next ten years.
Walter Speller’s event, a masterclass and walk around tasting tribute to this outstanding Serralunga d’Alba Barolo cru, featured about ten producers of varying quality and repute. Oddero was showcasing three wines at the event, the Barolo Brunate 2014, the Barolo Bussia Riserva 2012 (which was the second best wine at the event) and the outstanding Vigna Rionda 2008 Riserva. All the wines were ten years old or younger, and most completely unapproachable (and some un-enjoyable) as they were simply too young. Whether Oddero have perfected a younger drinking style or whether theirs were of a higher quality I can not say but I did take notes on all three Oddero Barolo wines with reviews below.
Oddero – Barolo Brunate 2014
Garnet or ruby? Let’s commit to mid ruby. A typical nose of cherry, vanilla and marzipan on this young Brunate with a hint of smoke. The palate is rounded, with fine tannin and balanced acidity and the flavours continue with some cherries on the top. 90 Points
Oddero – Barolo Bussia Risera 2012
Ruby red with orange hues. This wine packs both power and elegance. Aromatically forward nose with typical red fruits and flowers at the centre and a touch of vanillin and forest floor. The palate is one of the most fruit forward of the evening with hulking, drying tannins that will make this super-long-lived. Good length. 93 Points.
Oddero – Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva 2008
A pale garnet in the glass with pronounced aromas of roses, tar, marzipan, leather and tobacco, The palate is still structured and dominated by high tannins, but not unpleasantly so and can be drunk today. The palate contains plenty of red fruit including raspberry, cherry and strawberry as well as pepper and licorice. Long finish. Truly, you shouldn’t be drinking this wine today but who cares? It’s delicious and yes it will get more delicious so go for the case buy. 96 Points.
Special thanks to The Wine Sleuth for securing my invite!