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The 2003 Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra is even better than the Pajana, with a superbly well-delineated bouquet and deeply nuanced layers of violets, spices, menthol and sweet dark fruit. It fully captures the essence of Ginestra, one of Barolo's greatest sites, in the rich, ripe style of the vintage. This gorgeous Barolo is only in need of further bottle age after which it should drink beautifully to age 20, perhaps beyond. It is one of the highlights of the vintage. Ciabot Mentin Ginestra is made from higher-altitude plots than Pajana and typically offers more aromatic complexity and detail to the rounder expression that is characteristic of Pajana. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2023.

Few producers' wines have given me as much pleasure over the years as those of Domenico Clerico. Based in Monforte, Clerico has been turning out spectacular Barolos since the mid-1980s. I find a spirituality and character in these wines that puts them in a class with few peers. The last few years have seen an evolution in Clerico's philosophy. He has gradually lengthened fermentation times and beginning with his 2005s also backed off the 100% new oak, perhaps the one criticism I have had of some wines in the past. For his 2003 Barolos Clerico shortened the fermentation time by a few days. "Given that the grapes already had a lot of tannins, it was important not to over-extract," says Clerico. "I used a high percentage of new oak for the Barolos. When we racked them, the wines aged in new oak turned out as I had hoped in that they were a little rounder than the wines aged in one-year old barrels. I am optimistic about 2003, the wines just need time for the tannins to soften. Look at what people said about the 1997s. The wines were supposed to fall apart, yet I think the best wines have held up beautifully." Clerico fans can also look forward to a very promising series of Barolos for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages. Wine Advocate # 173; Oct 2007 Antonio Galloni 93 Drink 2011 - 2023

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