A great wine from a not so great year: Roberto Voerzio Barbera d’Alba Riserva vigneto Pozzo dell’Annunziata 2003

Roberto Voerzio has been excited about the quality of his 2003s for some time, saying “I consider 2003, along with 1997 and 2000, to be my best vintages since 1996.” While few producers would list 2003 as a top-quality vintage, it is hard to disagree with Voerzio when it comes to his wines. I have tasted these 2003s twice over the last six months and they are simply magnificent Barolos of the highest level. They capture the ripe, exotic quality of the vintage, but without the hard tannins that are typical of so many wines. Several of these Barolos are likely to be among the vintage’s top wines when they are released.

That said, 2003 proved to be a challenging vintage here. In 2003 Voerzio’s yields were his lowest ever, 500 grams per plant, which is about a third less than his normal, already miniscule, yields. At harvest time sugar levels were very high, and as a result some of the wines did not complete their fermentations. Voerzio chose to sell his Dolcetto, Langhe Merlot and Barolo La Serra in bulk rather than tinker with them in the cellar, a significant financial sacrifice especially given that he did not release single bottle of wine in the 2002 vintage. More recently the ultra-perfectionist Voerzio has told me he is not sure whether he will release his Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata. However, the 2003s that he will bottle are nothing short of breathtaking. I also tasted several 2004s, including Rocche, Cerequio, Sarmassa and the Langhe Merlot, but they are maturing very slowly and the individual vineyard characteristics are not quite as evident today as the wines are still clearly marked by oak. Antonio Galloni

I love Barbera, especially when it is grown in the Langhe and when on form, it is breathtakingly spectacular. Another thing I love about Barbera is that in hot years, because it is a natually high acid variety, it cops extremely well. In years like 2003, which was extremely hot all over Europe, Barbera was one of the few varities that managed to do well.

Last night we opened a bottle of the Roberto Voerzio Barbera d’Alba Riserva vigneto Pozzo dell’Annunziata 2003 out of magnum and the wine looked amazing. This wine took about an hour to open up and when it did, it was absolutely amazing. It was fragrant, fresh, complex and balanced. Pretty hard to ask for much more for top line Barbera.

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