Barolo is like the brilliant, teenage lout who, as he ages and gains wisdom, lives on the edge between exquisite, refined eccentricity and cynical misanthropy. When young, traditional Barolos are always austere and sometimes brutal lacking even a hint of warmth. Some when aged for 15-20 years are poetry in a glass, with a nose so ornately original and a palate so lustrous and silky I am immediately transported to the landscape of the heart with its soaring ecstasies and fecund desires and longing that cannot be quenched by…well, you know the feeling.
But too often even very expensive, aged Barolos from good producers can be closed, ungenerous, still clinging with joyless persistence to their austerity as if giving in to beauty would compromise their hard won integrity. Recently, some producers from Piemonte, the home of Barolo, are striving for a more modern style, more generous early in life, trading the gamble of a glorious senescence for the charm of a sociable youth.
The Damilano is in this modern style. It is pale ruby in appearance with a clear rim and just a hint of the orange tint that identifies the Nebbiolo grape. Dried roses set off cherry aromas supported with gentle loam lurking in the background—a very clear, focused nose that leaves a delicate impression despite its medium-plus intensity. The fruit darkens with aeration and there is a whiff of alcohol but it is not too distracting.
The palate is mellow despite its youth with soft fruit up front giving way to baking spices on the mid-palate that carry through the robust finish propelled by close-knit tannins that build to a dry crescendo. Graceful and charming but lacking the power of the best Barolos. Well structured but the acidity is less apparent than in typical Barolos.
This won’t have you quoting William Blake; it is far too accessible to be profound. But it is a thoroughly enjoyable Barolo at a relatively affordable price. “Lecinquevigne” refers to the 5 vineyards from which these grapes are sourced.
Average Price: $32