Italian wine tasting in Sonoma – Barolos

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery.

February 12, 2023


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Barolos, considered ‘The King” of Italian wines:

Once again, at the invitation of Don Sebastiani, Sr., fellow Sonoma winemakers and somms gathered for a studious tasting. This time at the Swiss Hotel private dining room on the Plaza in downtown Sonoma. (Note: their Reuben Sandwich, fries, and an aged Barolo highly recommended)

Barolos are praised worldwide for their complex and powerful flavors of dried flowers (rose and violet), dried red fruit (strawberry and raspberry), licorice, tar and earth. From the Langhe area near Alba in Piedmont, Italy and based upon the Nebbiolo grape. Barolos are frequently aged 3 – 5 years before release.

Wall of fame in the private dining room at the Swiss. Some bottles wait to be opened while other titans of wine were consumed long ago and now sit empty but ready to be re-admired.

The Barolos

What a hit parade of wines. I can genuinely recommend every one of these producers. It has been a long time since I was in a professional tasting where even the lowest ranked wines (since all wines are forced ranked) were wines everyone loved.

Conterno – Monfortino is a selection of the best fruit from the vineyards of Cascina Francia in Serralunga d’Alba.

Rinaldi – dried herbs, mint, sage, cedar, sweet pipe tobacco and gentle earthy notes

Conterno – Conterno Fantino winery was founded in 1982 by Claudio Conterno and Guido Fantino.

Falletto – Tarry underbrush, saddle leather, grilled meat, licorice in a subtle way. Balanced and still young palate with dried dark blackberry, subtle oak tones.

Falletto – Vibrant and fruity, yet with a solid structure, with additional depth from the earthy, smoky, tobacco and tar underneath. Bright acidity with polished tannins here, more expressive than Asili Riserva, but still need at least 5 years to mature beautifully.

Pio Cesare – Complex aromas of smoke, ash and dark fruit with precision and intensity. Layered and gorgeous. Loads of dark fruit and perfume. Full-bodied with round and wonderfully polished tannins. Wonderful length and richness.

After the Barolos, these 3 special bottles were cracked open. Here, classic old Napa Valley Mondavi, 1973 and 1982. We all really enjoyed breaking down the way these were likely farmed – back in those decades when Napa was just getting rolling.

…and this Opus One, 1984, required decanting and was a bit curious, not everyone’s favorite, but worthy of note nonetheless.

Bottles were revealed from this box of treasures.

Napa “Lighted Art” public street art festival

Went over to the ‘other’ valley on a Thursday eve to take in the light show. The Napa Lighted Art Festival is a celebration of creative arts, technology and lights, and supports innovative techniques using light and light technologies as a growing art medium. This walkable outdoor experience is FREE in downtown Napa featuring 10 lighted art sculptures for five weeks and projection artwork on 3 iconic downtown buildings for the first 9 nights of the festival. Bring the family and experience the magic of lighted art at the 2023 Napa Lighted Art Festival!

January 21st- February 19th, 2023, Monday- Thursday 6-9pm | Friday – Sunday 6-10pm

Started our tour here, where all night long they have docents at the ready to hand you a map of the installation locations.


A trip back in time when our little start-up Redwood City winery began winning some critic’s awards:


Sonoma International Film Festival – tickets now on sale – don’t miss it!

The best event of the entire Sonoma wine country calendar. This year, the Sonoma International Film Festival will be featuring special films from all over the world, in comfortable theater venues, with amazing sound. Don’t miss this extraordinary 5-day event.Buy your passes today. Click here.

Our “Sonocaia Estate Reserve Sagrantino” red wine is a proud sponsor. Please join us at the party!

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1 Comment

  1. Holly Dietrich

    Always such fun to read …!!! Thanks


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