Paolo Scavino: Barolo Cannubi 1989-2001

Owing to its small production, Scavino’s Cannubi is perhaps the least well known of his single-vineyard Barolos.   It is made in a very ripe style with notable concentration and suppleness, but without losing the feminine, perfumed quality that makes wines from this vineyard so distinctive and irresistible.  Although Cannubi is the most approachable of Scavino’s Barolos it is also a wine that has also proven to be quite capable of aging.

From 1993 to 1998 the wines were aged exclusively in barrique in an effort to make the wines ready to drink earlier, which seems to have worked.   For example, the 1996, from a structured and age-worthy vintage, is a decidedly modern-styled wine. Relatively soft and approachable right out of the bottle, it also shows the clear presence of new oak.  By comparison vintages 1989 and 1990, while displaying more evolved flavors, also show notable tannic clout, and are more classic wines that require additional time in the glass to fully express themselves.

Beginning in 1999 the wines are aged one year in barrique followed by one year in cask prior to being bottled, an approach I think works especially well here.  Scavino’s Cannubi appears to be most successful in more classic vintages that really tend to bring out the delicate, perfumed, and aromatic quality of the vineyard.  Lastly, this producer’s wines in particular really seem to benefit from extended aeration and several hours of decanting will do these wines a world of good.

1989 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Medium burnished ruby.   The 1989 is a sensational effort that perfectly captures Cannubi and the superb 1989 vintage.  It shows a very layered profile in its balsamic nose of spices, menthol and flowers, with great density and concentration in its rich black cherry fruit that explodes onto the palate with great persistence and freshness.  The 1989 is at the same time more delicate and structured than the 1990.  While delicious now, this wine has at least another ten years ahead of it, and perhaps more.  95 points/drink after 2006, tasted 05/05

1990 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Medium burnished ruby.  The 1990 is a racy, irresistible Barolo that offers a rich, alcoholic nose of spices, minerals, mint, and eucalyptus.  It is dense and packed on the palate with much intense, ripe fruit in round and immediate style, finishing with great length.  Readers lucky enough to own this wine should feel in no hurry to finish their bottles, this 1990 shows plenty of structure and was still outstanding on the 2nd day after opening.  95 points/drink now-, tasted 06/05

1996 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Dark ruby.  The outrageous and utterly beautiful 1996 offers an alluring balsamic nose followed by generous amounts of rich dark cherry fruit intermingled with more evolved notes of tar, chocolate and menthol that emerge as the wine sits in the glass.  It is massive and packed on the palate, showing layers of flavors and much personality.  At the early part of what promises to be a long drinking window.  95 points/drink after 2006, tasted 06/05

1997 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Dark ruby.  By comparison the 1997 comes across as relatively straightforward.  It is a richly concentrated, lush Barolo showing intense aromas and flavors of over-ripe jammy, and stewed fruit, with a persistent roasted character and a note of burnt sugar. While it lacks the complexity and length of the very best vintages, the 1997 is drinking well now and should last at least another ten years.  91 points/drink now, tasted 05/05

1998 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Dark ruby.  The 1998 displays the classic perfumed Cannubi nose and plenty of sweet ripe fruit, and rose petal flavors in a supremely elegant, accessible style, but with more freshness and better balance than the 1997.  This wine shows just how outstanding the 1998s can be and is a great choice for near-term drinking.  93 points/drink now-, tasted 05/05

1999 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Dark ruby.  The 1999 is a fascinating effort that perfectly captures the vintage in its complex aromas of roses, menthol, ripe fruit and truffles.  It is dense and long, offering a soft, velvety profile with much dark fruit on a dense, structured frame.  Notes of roasted coffee beans, licorice, tar, and menthol appear as this gorgeous, superbly well-balanced wine sits in the glass.   Not as accessible today as the 1997, 1998, or 2000, this will require a few years to be at its best, and will age gracefully to at least age 20.  93+ points/drink now-, tasted 05/05

2000 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Dark ruby.  Like many wines of the vintage, the 2000 is not terribly expressive on the nose.  What it lacks in aromatics it makes up for with generous, concentrated flavors of ripe dark cherries and menthol, with much finesse and elegance, though also showing the heat of the vintage.  This is drinking beautifully today and should continue to do so for at least another 10 years.  92 points/drink now-, tasted 05/05

2001 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – Dark ruby.  A classic in the making, the superb 2001 offers a multi-dimensional, delicate nose of flowers, menthol, and minerals with plenty of ripe dark cherry fruit, great length, and a nuanced, ethereal finish.  It will require at least a few years of bottle age, and will still be vibrant and full of flavor at age 20.  A great effort.  94+ points/drink after 2009, tasted 05/05

-- Antonio Galloni