Barolo 2019 is being hailed as a ‘classic vintage’ but what exactly does that mean? And which are the wines worth looking out for from 275 new Barolo that were shown at Nebbiolo Prima, the annual tasting event held in Alba? Irish Times wine critic, John Wilson, in his first piece for The Buyer, reports from Nebbiolo Prima (which was also showing 2020 Barbaresco and Roero) and picks his favourite 15 Baroli from the event.
“Most of the wines I tasted had great balance and intense, delicious, refreshing fruits. They also had a very high level of tannins, but were not clumsy or out of kilter,” writes Wilson.
Every year, producers in the Langhe hold Nebbiolo Prima, a press tasting showing the latest vintages of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. There has been much talk about the 2019 and 2020 vintages, the first and second in a trio of very good years in Piemonte. Barbaresco and Roero presented the 2020 vintage, along with Riservas from 2019. But the largest number (275 wines) were Baroli from the 2019 vintage.
It was not an easy vintage with a wet spring followed by very hot summer temperatures. The vintage was saved by a cool, dry autumn allowing the Nebbiolo to ripen slowly. Many commentators have used the phrase “classic vintage”, which can mean all sorts of things, and is often applied to very average years. But in the case of 2019 in Barolo it seems to mean wines with full phenolic ripeness but no overripe flavours, plenty of fresh acidity and good tannic structure. Most of the wines I tasted had great balance and intense, delicious, refreshing fruits. They also had a very high level of tannins, but were not clumsy or out of kilter.
For me the two strongest communes were Serralunga d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto, but there were plenty of good wines across the entire region.
My favourite 15 wines from the Nebbiolo Prima tasting
Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Camilla 2019
A very pale colour, perfectly defined damson fruits, dark chocolate, and a savoury note with good structure and very good length. Stylish wine.
Bruna Grimaldi Bricco Ambrogio Barolo 2019 Roddi
Intense roses and dark fruits underpinned by equally concentrated firm tannins. Needs plenty of time but perfectly balanced. Real potential.
Poderi e Cantine Oddero, Barolo 2019
Instantly likeable, lovely fragrant nose; beautifully poised lively red fruits, good tannins and lingering fruit.
Vigneti Luigi Oddero e Figli, Barolo Villera 2019, Castiglione Falletto
Delightful lifted perfumed nose, perfectly balanced elegant fruit, classic roses and tar, good tannins and length.
Comm. G.B. Burlotto Acclivi, Verduno 2019
Closed initially, opening up to reveal spritely elegant raspberry fruits coated with fine tannins and a lingering finish. Great wine.
Cavallotto Tenuta Bricco Boschis, Barolo Castiglione Falletto 2019
Huge concentration and real depth of ripe but firm red fruits, lively acidity, plenty of well-integrated tannins, and great length. Perfect balance. Excellent wine.
Giacomo Fennochio Villero Barolo 2019
Wonderful elegant wine with ripe morello cherries; deceptively forward now but this has real structure and substance.
G.D. Vajra di Vaira Aldo Vajra Bricco delle Viole, Barolo 2019
Delightful rose petal aromas, masses of elegant pure dark fruits and liquorice with brooding tannins on the finish.
Vietti Barolo Brunate 2019
Perfumed with raspberry fruits and spice; Excellent concentration of fruit coated in fine-grained tannins.
Crissante Alessandria La Morra Barolo 2019
Violets and raspberries with precise refined red fruits and an earthy, firmly tannic finish.
Crissante Alessandria Capalot La Morra Barolo 2019
Pale in colour with wonderful fragrant alpine strawberries, enticing sweet red fruits with very fine grained tannins and a lingering finish.
Enzo Boglietti Brunate, La Morra Barolo 2019
A lovely quality of fruit; damsons, liquorice and spice; brisk acidity, very chewy dry tannins at the moment, but should come good.
Brovia Brea vigna Ca’Mia Serralunga d’Alba Barolo 2019
Beguiling, hugely concentrated dark cherry fruits with spice. There is a seductive freshness of fruit, good acidity and great length. A star.
Anna Maria Abbona Castiglione Falletto, Barolo 2019
Sweet fragrant elegant Nebbiolo with succulent red cherry and strawberry fruits alongside leather; a treat in store for the patient.
Moline Mauro Conca La Morra Barolo 2019
Savoury liquorice with tea and sweet plums. Reluctant to show but lovely grippy tannic backbone and real length.