Last week we held one of the most exciting tastings we can remember at our offices: the FINE+RARE Barolo Anteprima 2010. Just over 90 wines from Barolo's finest: from the established names to the young blood, all from what is a clearly excellent 2010 vintage.
The growers included F+R favourites Brezza, Ceretto, Cogno, Grimaldi and Oberto; the established stars of Voerzio, Scavino, Aldo Conterno and the up and coming, under the radar young blood. It was an exceptional line up (and, I admit, quite hard work. 90 young Baroli in a day does test the tastebuds).
That 2010 is a great vintage for Barolo was already clear as far as I was concerned; we tasted enough brilliance in Piedmont in February to prove that. Though tasting such a broad range in less seductive conditions affirmed my belief in this excellent year. Moreover, it showed the extraordinary variety within the vintage of both terroir and style. And, finally, as we approach the release of the 2013 Bordeaux vintage, tasting these outstanding wines, most of which have production levels of just a few hundred cases, puts value into perspective. A few hundred pounds a case gets you a great deal of quality, character and rarity in Barolo.
So the question is: what were the standouts? The full answer is a bit of a cop out: too many to list. Though our picks would be:
Barolo Serralunga, Giovanni Rosso
Davide Rosso is a very talented young winemaker making some exceptionally attractive wines from his family holdings. This is plush, polished and seductive wine. Lovely, and extraordinary value.
"A lifted, mineral nose with vibrant red fruit. Lovely juiciness on the palate with lots of plush fruit to balance the tannic structure. This is forward, approachable and impeccably balanced."
Barolo Terlo, Vigna Costa Grimaldi, Luigi Einaudi
This is a sleeping giant of a domaine. Situated south of the beautiful Monforte, in Dogliani, the owners of this stunning estate are respectfully restoring it to what will undoubtedly be one of the great estates of the region. One to watch.
"Dark fruited and very pure on the nose. Lots of lovely sweet fruit character with a beautiful elegance of style. In the mouth this has depth and a chunky mouthfeel. Concentrated, very long and very impressive."
2010 Barolo Bussia Cicala, Aldo Conterno
An estate that needs little introduction. The wines more than lived up to their reputation.
"There is a lot on the nose here: deeply complex spice and intense dark fruit. Quite full bodied on the palate and an intensity and finesse that is hugely impressive. Pin-sharp. And goes on and on. Excellent. Indeed not far off perfect."
Barolo Mosconi, E Pira
Chiara Boschis is one of Barolo's pioneers and never stops innovating. The wines are exemplary.
"Dark, mineral and savoury on the nose. This is firmly structured on the palate but nevertheless has an approachability to it. A serious wine for long term ageing."
Barolo, Bricco delle Viole, GD Vajra
Giuseppe Vajra is well-known in Barolo for good reason: the wines have an elegance and restraint that belies their power and ageability. The quality of the Bricco Viole, the top wine, from the highest site in the Barolo commune, is clear.
"Dark and rich on the nose then powerful and structured on the palate. This is backward and very tightly packed for the moment but extremely impressive. Will repay long term ageing."
Barolo Sori Ginestra, Conterno-Fantino
Conterno-Fantino make rich, modern Barolos that are benchmark examples of the type. Very impressive.
"Rich and creamy with ripe red fruits and subtle floral aromatics. Pine resin and dark spices come through on the palate. There is a lot of structure here that will need time to integrate but this holds together very well."
Barolo, Francesco Rinaldi
A highly traditional estate whose wines rival many more ambitiously priced examples. Along with the Giovanni Rosso, this was one of the best value wines of the tasting.
"Elegant in style with fine red fruits on the nose with gentle spice. This has an has an expansiveness to the palate while remaining lightweight. Superb value for money."
Barolo Ravera, Elvio Cogno
At his beautiful estate in Novello, Valter Fissore makes some expressive, complex wines. A property on the up.
"Deep and plush on the nose with rich fruit that is contained by fine linear tannins on the palate. Well defined and very much together. Showing very well already."
Barolo Vigna Cerretta, Ca' Rome
One of the finds from our February trip, this is a traditional family-run estate based in Barbaresco which looks set to become much better known.
"Spicy nose with delicate aromatics. This has a lovely sweetness to the fruit on the palate with an unforced character. Medium bodied and approachable."
Barolo Castiglione, Vietti
Another estate that needs little introduction. The wines have been highly praised in this vintage and justifiably so.
"Intense and complex on the nose with vibrant floral notes and smoky minerality. Very complex even at this stage. Quite full bodied on the palate without being heavy. Perfectly balanced with excellent length."
These are just a few of ninety and, of that ninety, there were no duds. A few wines were stylistically extreme: the ultra-traditional and the ultra-modern ends of the scale were both covered, though qualitatively the bar was very, very high.
If you would like to discuss the wines further then please do let us know.
Our full range of 2010 Barolo can be seen here.