It is not everyday you get to sit down with one of Australia’s Barolo experts and taste through a bunch of Barolo from a single vintage, including 7 different Crus. But that is exactly what happened last week with David Ridge dropping by the office. The prices of Barolo from the finest producers are now climbing rapidly (unfortunately) which makes tracking down bargains the aim of the game. And Sordo manages to deliver just that. 2017 was a hot, dry year for Barolo but I feel the winemakers are getting more used to dealing with those conditions. None of the wines from Sordo were heavy and lacking in energy. Actually most were right in the slot with only a couple of sites maybe lacking the radiant fruit of the best vintages.
Sordo Barolo 2017
$100 – Drink 2022-2030
Made from eight communes with 80% of fruit from La Morra, this is a good start. There is immediately a strong Barolo personality thanks to muscular aromas of baked earth, brooding dark berry fruits with meaty notes and gentle spices. It’s already singing and ready to go. But there is also a density to this wine, with spicy, damp earth flavours rising over a firm finish. Reserved acidity in the package adds to its more user friendly style although it retains a strong varietal and regional character.
Sordo Parussi Barolo 2017
$130 – Drink 2024-2030
This wine just leaps from the glass and grabs you with pretty, open-knit aromas. There is delicious upfront generosity of fruit with an almost jammy red edge to fennel seed, tar and liquorice aromas. There is then a solid tannin backbone but this does feel like the softest and most supple of the Sordo wines although finishing with ethereal truffle complexity. I did a bit of digging and the Sordo Parussi vineyard is on a steep west facing slope which would have born the brunt of the afternoon sun in a hot vintage.
Sordo Ravera Barolo 2017
$130 – Drink 2026-2034
This wine comes from near the very top of the Ravera Cru, one of the largest in Barolo. It’s a little deceiving as it starts out with pretty and finely detailed aromas of red cherry, earth and mushroom that are generous and expressive. It then takes a more serious turn with really quite robust tannins giving density to the palate and finish. Structure seems just slightly ahead of the fruit but a couple of years should see it all come together very nicely.
Sordo Villero Barolo 2017
$170 – Drink 2025-2033
A very expressive, welcoming and complete Barolo with an impressive blend of structure and fruit power. It immediately opens up to display hearty black cherry, liquorice all sorts and cedar with a wood influence well integrated. There is a genuine ripeness to the wine that is dense and bold, with firm yet approachable tannins supporting a long, leathery finish. It’s impressive but lacking quite the complexity of some others in the collection, perhaps also thanks to Villero’s south-westerly aspect. But it may move up with another decade under its belt.
Sordo Monvigliero Barolo 2017
$170 – Drink 2025-2038
Now we are starting to get serious. Alessandro Masnaghetti calls Monvigliero “the true Grand Cru of Verduno” with Sordo’s vineyards located at the crest of the hill and this wine sure shows its class with quite serious complexity. Dried raspberry, truffle and smoky spices with impressive aromatic volume. It’s well composed and quite classic too with a compact feel – acid, tannins and fruit held tightly together with exceptional balance before delivering a long, multi-layered finish. Seriously good and will get better.
Sordo Perno Barolo 2017
$130 – Drink 2033-2042
From Monforte d’Alba comes the most opulent of Sordo’s 2017 releases. It is a big, tannic and even rustic wine but never loses its shape delivering strong aromas of black cherry, blackberry and coal fires – it’s fire and brimstone in a bottle. The palate then delivers mouthfilling, fleshy tarry flavours which are bound up tight in a firm, tannic frame. A supremely long finish tops off a very impressive wine that is built for the long haul.
Sordo Gabutti Barolo 2017
$130 – Drink 2030-2042
From Serralunga d’Alba comes this classic Barolo with its ethereal fragrance perfectly matched with tightly wound tannins. It immediately draws you in thanks to delightful red cherry, raspberry, potpourri, dried herb and fennel seed aromas – the Sordo vineyard’s southerly exposure providing aromatic generosity. It then takes a more savoury turn as young meaty, spicy flavours are more tightly wound although are delivered over a long, precise finish. It’s young but the signs are very good for enjoyment over the long term.
Sordo Rocche di Castiglione Barolo 2017
$130 – Drink 2026-2040
From one of Barolo’s most hallowed Crus comes this exceptional wine, that was a little shy to start but over time well and truly put its royal flush of fruit, complexity and structure on the table. It creeps up on you with its mix of sweet and savoury aromas – black cherry, baked earth with touches of tar, florals and cedar. The palate is only mid-weight, even elegant, but a knockout with many twists and turns from dark savoury flavours through to intriguing flashes of mineral and dried herbs. Extreme length is supported by sinewy tannins with superb balance which makes this not a wine to miss.
Sordo Monprivato Barolo 2017
$250 – Drink 2035-2050
This wine comes from one of the most famous and desirable Barolo Crus. Monprivato only has two owners – Sordo and Mascarello – so there is no surprise that it is hot property. There is lovely purity of Nebbiolo aromas to be found – powerful yet tightly held dark cherry, brooding tarry/earthy nuances with wafts of tea and truffle; it is the most classic of all the 2017s. It’s then dense, long and firm with robust but balanced palate-defining tannins, plus a gently fresh acid line that brightens the experience. Flavours are tarry at first but then very slowly pretty florals (dried and fresh) rise up over a long, drawn out finish. So good now with a very exciting future ahead.