Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Barolo 2009 and Piedmont's new releases

Posted by Giles Burke-Gaffney, Buying Director
2009 may not go down as the most consistent of vintages, less so than 2008, for example, but based on my tastings in Piedmont two weeks ago it would be a huge mistake to dismiss them. I found some really thrilling examples.

There was lots of rain in spring, fortunately, because summer was constantly warm and dry. Waiting for tannins to ripen was important so in general harvest was early to mid October in "t shirt" conditions.

It was a warm vintage but not as hot as 1997 or 2000. The wines show dense powerful tannins but, thanks to lots of fruit sweetness, they are much easier to taste than similarly tannic but higher acid vintages such as 2006.

The high vineyards in La Morra were notably more successful than the lower ones, Roberto Voerzio's stunning La Serra, all Brunates I tasted and Marengos Bricco Viole are all very fine examples.

Overall it is Scavino who have made one of the collections of the vintage, achieving a consistently high level right across the board. Azelia too, have shown how they have progressed to new heights in the last few vintages, their three cru Barolos are up there with the very best of the vintage.

This year also sees some exciting other new release;. 2008 Riservas reiterate what a great vintage this is. May be it does not have the consistency of 2007 and 2004 but wines from good crus and reliable producers have made sublime wines that mix vitality, elegance and power. Capalot/Brunate and an old vine Giachini from Giovanni Corino are two that stood out.

Perhaps the most exciting find of the entire trip was Roberto Voerzio's Fossati Casa Nere 2003; a riserva that is made in the same way as the other Barolo Crus but will only ever be released in specific vintages and only after 10 years of bottle age. This has been one of my wines of the year so far, despite the "heat wave vintage" this has fruit, nuance and elegance to go with the ripe fruit and richness. Never has such a complex and powerful wine been so beguiling and easy to drink.

One final word must go to the oft-forgotten Dolcetto variety. I have the sense that there is the general acceptance in the region that this has in the past been made in too heavy-handed a way. Producers are making a concerted effort to make sweeter, more delicate examples and this combined with what looks like a very fine 2012 vintage, has resulted in more delicious juicy and immediately enjoyable Dolcettos than I can ever remember.