Barolo 2010 – Best Ever?
First, let me get this out of the way: the 2010 vintage for Barolo is an excellent one. This past summer, I was invited back to Nebbiolo Prima, the annual new vintage tasting of all things Nebbiolo from the Langhe hills. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with the wines. In fact, the quality of the vintage is comparable to modern classics such as 2001, 2004 and 2007. There are even those who believe — journalists and producers alike — that it is the best vintage in the past 20 years. Personally, I am not entirely convinced and would rather wait to see how the wines evolve before heaping such praise. The reason being that some minor variability exists in certain areas, while others over-achieved. I should also mention that 2010 favoured Barolo over Barbaresco, as the latter region received more rain and the wines come across as somewhat diluted.
The Growing Season
With the arrival of spring, warm temperatures inundated the area. This continued until May, when rainy weather took over and delayed flowering as well as reducing the crop load. This natural control helped with concentration and overall quality. As spring transferred into summer, it turned warm, but not overtly, and was tempered by cool evenings. This diurnal shift helped to promote a gradual ripening, which was perfect for proper development. The only caveat was the rain which presented itself in mid-October, during harvest. Those who managed their crop yield and/or were on well-drained soils came out unscathed.
Overall, the wines show all the hallmarks of a cool-climate, Burgundian-styled vintage: heady perfumes, concentration and ripe tannins. Yes, there are the heavy-handed tannins of Nebbiolo, but they have a roundness to them which is not always the case. That said, the wines will not require long aging before consumption. Rather, they will be terrific by the end of this decade and will age beyond. As always, these wines shine with food, so make sure the table is set for these beauties.
New Labelling Rules
It was announced at Nebbiolo Prima that starting with the 2010 vintage, the practice of labelling two or more crus (vineyards) on the bottle is now outlawed. This mandate further strengthens the parallels between Burgundy. Historically, many producers would do this, since it was the tradition to combine different plots to achieve balance. Under the new rules, it is a single cru or nothing. Blending may still occur, but the wines will only read Barolo, and nothing else. Needless to say, there are more than a few producers who aren’t amused (rightfully so) as they have built a loyal following for their labelled and blended wines.
95 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito 2010 ($150)
Lazzarito tends to be Vietti’s biggest, baddest and darkest single vineyard Baroli, of which there are three. A recent mini-vertical confirmed this. Dark in colour and full bodied, there is a whopping perfume of red and black fruit, tobacco, vanilla, violets, spice and porcini. The concentration and layers bode well for a long life. Let this wine sleep until 2018 and then drink until 2035.
94 Brovia Barolo Rocche di Castiglione 2010 ($100)
Truly impressive stuff! It starts off with red flowers and then the dill/mint, watermelon, cherry and raspberry flavours cut in. The same red fruit fleshes out over the elegant palate and carries the fabulous finish. It should age well for at least 2 decades, if not more. Do not miss out on this experience.
94 Oddero Poderi E Cantine Barolo Rocche de Castiglione 2010 ($90)
Made from a 1.6 acre plot of 70-year-old vines, this Barolo is made in a modern style, where the new oak and fruit combine to become one. It truly beguiles with its complex mix of plum, cassis, cherry, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla and tobacco. Super expressive with an ever-giving aftertaste.
94 Sandrone Luciano Barolo Le Vigne 2010 ($125)
Yes, the price is lofty, but the quality is undeniable. Toast, earth, tar, cola and violets, plum, cherry, spice and earth are all in play. Long finish. Fresh acid and firm tannins will ensure 2 decades of aging. That said, hold for 5 years before consuming.
93 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sori’ Ginestra 2010 ($100)
This impressive Barolo spent 2 years in French oak, of which a sizeable proportion was new. That said, it is robust with cocoa, sweet cherries, earth, crème de cassis, violets, tobacco and herbs weaving their magic out of the glass and onto the tastebuds, which then carry into the sunset. Hold for 5 and then drink until 2030.
92 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc 2010 ($100)
Made from vines ranging between 45 and 55 years old, this wine has seen some new oak, creating a bouquet of cocoa, black cherry, plum, earth, toast and graphite. The palate adds cherry, vanilla and spice. It is concentrated with a long finish. It should drink well for 25 years.
92 Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunate 2010 ($200)
This perennial qualitative champion continues to deliver the goods. Why do I say this? After having tasted a vertical from 2004, this wine follows suit. Full bodied, the cherry, chocolate, undergrowth, clove and red flowers echo on the long finale. Tannins are ripe and polished, so drink over the next 20 years.
92 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Barolo ($120)
This traditionally-made Barolo features cherry, red flowers, spice, raspberry, earth and spice. Long on the palate with solid underlying acidity and tannin.
92 Marcarini Barolo Brunate 2010 ($75)
Here is a mid-weight Barolo with cherry, raspberry, balsamic, undergrowth, violets and mint/herbs. There is excellent length and the tannins and acidity make a rather forceful appearance. Hold for 2 years and then drink until 2028.
92 Bava Barolo Scarrone 2010 ($95)
A classic Barolo nose of tar and cherry combine with cola, cherry, sweet plum and vanilla. There is lots of graphite on the palate, as well as sweet cherry, cassis and a spice-tinged aftertaste. Ripe with terrific balance.
92 Fontanafredda Barolo Vigna La Rosa 2010 ($75)
Totally modern in style, with obvious new oak qualities. A fragrant, complex nose of dark flowers, dark cherry, strawberry, spice, vanilla and game. The palate is rich with layered fruit and superb length. Pretty stuff. Look for this wine to age for 15 plus years.
92 Raineri Monserra Barolo 2010 ($65)
Mineral, flowers, tar, earth, cassis and cherry reveal themselves on the nose. The palate dances with cherry fruit, spice, cocoa, flowers, tar, earth and vanilla. Long finish with a grippy finale. Drink over the next 15 years.
92 Mario Olivero Barolo Bricco Rocca 2010 ($65)
Very perfumed with copious amounts of sweet cherry, black raspberry, vanilla and flowers. Palate is ripe with cherry fruit, liquorice, earth, tar and a long berry-drenched finish. Lots of firm tannins, so let it sleep until 2018 and then drink until 2030.
92 Cascina Adelaide Barolo Fossati 2010 ($75)
The Nebbiolo grapes for this impressive wine were picked in November. Cherry, plum, earth, tobacco, red flowers and a singular fresh cheese note make for complex drinking. Nicely concentrated with sweet fruit that is long lasting. From 2017 onwards.
91 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bricco Ambrogio 2010 ($125)
Sweet cherry, plum, liquorice, earth, spice, cola nut, vanilla and flowers thoroughly flatter the senses. Medium to full body, there are lots of powerful yet suave tannins lurking underneath. Hold for 3 more years and then drink until 2027.
91 Pio Cesare Barolo 2010 ($59.75)
Pio’s regular Barolo offers sumptuous drinking pleasure. It is not heavy, rather it is refined with dark cherry, raspberry, earth, liquorice, vanilla, spice and red flowers. The sweet berry fruit and florality carry the finale. Already accessible, it should drink well over the next decade.
91 Parusso Barolo 2010 ($60)
This blend of grapes from Monforte d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto spends 24 months in small oak barrels. The sensual perfume of morello cherry, rose hip, raspberry and earth meshes with immense florality, plum, earth, spice and cherry cola on the long finale. From 2017 to 2030.
91 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d’Alba 2010 ($39.95)
A wonderful perfume of dark chocolate, plum, dark cherry, violets, leather, tobacco smoke and spice beguile the senses. It is fullish with ample persistency and Nebbiolo tannins rounding out the experience. Braised lamb shank required. Time frame: 15 years of cellaring.
91 Amalia Cascina In Langa Barolo Le Coste di Moforte 2010 ($100)
This wine was a discovery at Nebbiolo Prima this year. A superb nose of sweet cherry, vanilla, cola, humus and tar. Lots of sweet cherry, plum, cocoa and earth are layered on the rich and concentrated palate. The oak carries the finale with cherry kicking out at the end. Fine length and 15 plus year ahead.
91 Mauro Molino Barolo Bricco Luciani 2010 ($100)
Made from vines averaging 30 years old. Plum, sweet cherry, vanilla and earth dominate this wine. Nicely concentrated with a long aftertaste and polished tannins, which do not overwhelm. 20 years of life ahead.
90 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo 2010 ($34.95)
This mid-weight red delivers cherry, vanilla, spice, cocoa and violets on the nose, which transitions to the palate and melds with a long raspberry cream finish. Tannins are in proportion and there is splendid persistency. A Barolo to be drunk over the next decade.
90 Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2010 ($59.95)
This wine is still shy right now, but given its track record and underlying density, it will open up and start to strut its stuff by 2017 and then should be drunk until 2028. Strawberry, cherry, rose petals, liquorice, tar and herbs weave together on the medium body. Excellent length.
89 Fontanafredda Barolo 2010 ($30)
This is probably the best bang for the buck Barolo you will ever come across. Not a powerhouse, but a good mouthful of cherry, liquorice, dried flowers, spice and chestnut. Solid length and tannins. Drink until 2020. It is made for osso buco and harder, saltier cheeses.
89 Ascheri Barolo Pisapola ($44.95)
This wine is a solid Nebbiolo offering, but not of the elite status. Strawberry, earth and dried flowers are present. It is mid weight, with a lean structure and very good length. Tannins dive in on the finish, but based on the depth of the wine, my suggestion would be to drink it over the next 8 to 10 years.