2003 Cappellano Barolo "Pie Rupestris"
Old-School Monster of Serralunga
Serious Friday Steal at Well Over 30% Off!
We think Theobaldo Cappellano would have been cool with this email: A Barolo that couldn't be more serious; a price that's just plain silly. If there was one person who enjoyed the inevitability of contradiction, who found joy in complexity, it was "Baldo."
Theobaldo Cappellano was an old-school rebel of the Piedmont, cut from the same cloth as guys like Bartolo Mascarello, Giuseppe Mascarello and Giacomo Conterno to name a few.
If Cappellano is considerably less known than his brothers-in-arms (and he is) this has to do with mainly one thing: Cappellano adamantly refused to submit his wines to *anyone* to be scored. He strongly believed that crafting a wine was a process, deeply woven into the culture of a people, of a geography.
In 'Baldo's mind, to reduce all this to a point score was at best impractical, and at worse an insult.
Call his position a whimsical playfulness or a a deep, intuitive wisdom (those who knew Cappellano will vouch that he had both in spades). Whichever way you choose to view his opinion, there is no doubt that it had a serious effect on the circulation of his wines. Cappellano accepted this, unfalteringly, as a consequence of his position. (some would call this integrity.)
And this seems a good place to begin in defining the wines themselves: Integrity. If there is a Barolo with a more solid backbone or a more unflinching fortitude, we've never come across it. Cappellano farmed the Gabutti vineyard in Serralunga, the village known for the most masculine, most dense and textured Barolo. He did nothing to round these wines out, to make them softer or stylish. This is old-school, traditional Barolo in the best sense: Long skin contacts, fermentations without temperature-control and aging in big old barrels, called "botti" in the Piedmont.
2003 is a famously big, ripe vintage. If it is not to the classicist's palate, there are a number of reasons to be very excited about 2003 in Barolo.
Big fruit: Ripeness gives a dark, coating fruit, swathes of black raspberry, cranberry and dark-toned plums. In leaner vintages traditionally made wines can sometimes produce a mouthful of leather, tar and spice. Here, Cappellano's 2003 has a rich mid-palate of more gregarious fruit that is detailed and held in check by a firm army of tannin and acidity. If you've never had a Cappellano Barolo, this is the perfect introduction.
Approachability: When we last checked in on the 99 and 01, they were stubbornly clamped shut, not yet ready to surrender themselves. The 2003 has a friendliness to it - this is a bottle that will drink well over the next 5 or so years (and probably longer) but there's no need to cellar this till 2050 to enjoy. For those of you waiting for your young Piedmont wines to come around, this is a very good thing.
Seriousness: Don't let all this talk of "friendliness" fool you. 2003 Cappellano is not a Disney World-esque trip through Barolo-land -- the top producers crafted some serious wines. If Cappellano has a signature, it is rigor and his 2003 follows form. Though this is a friendly Barolo, it is still a very traditional Barolo. It is not a cocktail wine to be sipped pool-side. As luck would have it, the wine arrives in early September, in perfect time for the food that celebrates the fall and that will match perfectly with it: truffles, root vegetables, stews and braised meats. This is definitely a food wine.
Price: The lowest price in the world on this wine is just under $70 and it rises to about $90. Today you can grab a single bottle at $48 and change, 4-packs clock in at under $45 a bottle. Is there a better top flight Barolo steal out there right now? Absolutely not.
The catch, as there always is with bottles priced this dramatically below the market, is that we have only a few cases we can offer out at this price. While the wines arrive in early September, they will most surely be sold out long before that. A number of our "Friday Steals" have been selling out in fact well below the end of Friday, and this would be a serious contender for a repeat of this. Click below or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to secure your wine.