I had a very brief meeting the other day with Frederico Ceretto, who was motoring about town with bags full of 2004 Barolos and Barbarescos (well, actually only two bags, and he took them with him when he left, but still). About the vintage he had the following to say: "The bouquet of the wines is probably the most complete and interesting of any vintage I've tried in the past ten years. The structure is nice; there's a bit more sweetness than usual, which helps balance the tannins and acidity. This is a well-balanced, fresh vintage." Hard to catch his tone in a blog, but the word 'nice' was guarded; i.e., good but not spectacular. After tasting the wines, he's certainly right about the aromas—all those superlatives like "explosive," "intense," and "exotic" come to mind.
This was particularly true of the 2004 Ceretto Barbaresco Bricco Asili ($130), my favorite of the new wines. It's a perfume of blossoms, anise, and cherries—the kind of scent that wafts out of the glass and carries across the table. On the palate, it was firm, drying on the end, with sleek raspberry-cherry notes and a lingering hint of orange rind. I'd buy a case if it weren't just absurdly out of my budget.