The strange case of a case of 1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Per Cristina


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The strange case of a case of 1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Per Cristina

RicRios | | Sep 6, 2010 05:41 PM

I got a case of 1999 Domenico Clerico Barolo Per Cristina back in 2005, from irreproachable provenance. Case always kept in professional temperature & humidity controlled storage.
I never had had it before, but ratings at the time convinced me to go ahead with the purchase.

Duemilavini 2005, which gave it 5 stars /5 said about it ( my translation):"This is a temperamental wine, made for the long haul. Best after 2010".

Every year or so I'd go ahead and pop a cork, just to check the status of the pacient.

For the first couple years, I'd say the product matched closely Daniel Thomases'opinion from Aug. 2005( who btw rated it 94 pts): "...Very ripe on the nose, but with a freshness and vigor which make it seem like a very young wine ... strong and long with firm and caressing tannins ... It should be good for over 15 years of additional pleasure"

Later on, something weird started to happen.
Around 2007~2008, a French friend characterized it very graphically as "poudreux".
"Powdery", I must say, matched it to perfection.

By 2009 it had entered a kind of terminal phase. It looked and tasted old.
Cellartracker poster "dream" rated it 88, saying "...Somewhat port-like and a bit out of focus..."

I opened bottle # 10 a few days ago, and Wow! I was in for a surprise.
A nice bouquet, but tannins so strong that I almost couldn't swallow it. Totally disjointed.
I followed my custom: leave the bottle (minus 1 glass) rest 24 hrs & retry.
This time the tannins were even stronger. Plain undrinkable, it went down the drain.

First time I experience something like this.
Can tannins become stronger with age?
Could the "new school" barolo winemaking techniques have anything to do with this?
Is this a new case of the Picture of Dorian Gray?
Did Clerico sell his soul?

P.S.: 2 bottles left, which I'll be more than happy to donate at this point.