Last June, I wrote an article at wine-searcher.com about the latest releases of Barolo from the 2012 vintage. In this piece, I noted the success of this vintage, as the wines display beautiful typicity, as the wines from Serralunga, with their firm tannins, are quite different from examples from La Morra and Novello, which are more floral and offer more refined tannins. While the Barolos from 2012 will not live as long as those from 2010, a recent outstanding vintage, 2012 is an excellent vintage for Barolo, as the wines offer great complexity, structure and impressive breeding. You can read the article here.
Since that article, I have returned to Piemonte twice and have tasted several dozen more 2012 Barolos. Here are some additional thoughts on these wines:
The finest 2012 Barolo I have tasted is the Vietti Ravera. Vietti has continually expanded their cru Barolo portfolio, and recently decided to release a Ravera bottling, to accompany their offerings from such cru as Lazzarito, Brunate and Rocche. The Ravera vineyard is situated in the commune of Novello, with a small part of the cru lying in the Barolo commune. Vietti owns a small part of this vineyard in the Novello sector; their vines have an average age of 25 years, and the soils are clay and limestone. Ravera has been an in-demand vineyard over the past few years; the best-known examples have come from the Elvio Cogno estate that is situated at Ravera (the Vigna Elena is their best Barolo from Ravera); recently the Scavino family (Paolo Scavino of Castiglione Falletto) purchased a small parcel of Ravera.
This 2012 from Vietti is textbook Ravera, with its floral perfumes and silky tannins. Luca Currado made the wise decision to age this wine in large Slavonian casks instead of barriques, so as to highlight the supple, feminine qualities of this wine. Medium-full, with excellent depth of fruit, there is a touch of blueberry in the finish that is a bit unusual, and quite memorable. There is outstanding persistence and exemplary harmony. It’s been so nice to see all the great reviews for this wine, as the praise is for finesse and not power. Yet this is not a lightweight Barolo; this will drink well for at least 12-15 years, and I may be conservative in that estimate.
I also tasted examples of 2012 Barolo from producers I had not previously visited. One of these was Simone Scaletta of Monforte d’Alba. His 2012 Bricco San Pietro has a lovely young garnet color and enticing aromas of fresh red cherry and thyme with notes of cedar. There is very good persistence, along with refined tannins and good acidity. What I liked about this wine was that it was not as aggressive in its tannins as many examples of Monforte d’Alba Barolo. This should drink well for 12-15 years and is excellent.
Whenever I am in Monforte, I visit my good friend Gianluca Grasso, enologist at the Elio Grasso estate. This is a traditional Barolo producer (with one exception) and is one of my favorites. The 2012s did not disappoint; the Gavarini Chinera is a site-driven Barolo, with a bit more tannin than usual in 2012; there are also appealing notes of red rose petals in the aromas. It is excellent and should peak in 15-20 years.
Even better is the Casa Ginestra Maté Barolo from Grasso; this 2012 offers dried cherry perfumes along with distinct balsamic notes. Medium-full with excellent concentration, very good acidity and impressive persistence, this is a model Monforte Barolo, one with excellent structure and firm tannins, but a wine that is always in balance, unlike some examples from this commune that are a bit over the top. Again, being 2012, this will not be the longest lived example of this wine, but the wine should offer its best in 12-15 years. Outstanding and highly recommended!
Valentina Abbona, Marchesi di Barolo (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
It had been some time since I had visited Marchesi di Barolo in the city of Barolo; so thanks to the invitation of Valentina Abbona, co-proprietor along with her parents, I stopped in for a tasting this past December. The 2012 Coste di Rose Barolo, from a plot in front of Cannubi, was quite impressive. Offering perfumes of dried red cherry and dried rose petals, there is very good persistence, while the wood notes are very well integrated. Excellent- peak in 12-15 years.
Marchesi di Barolo is most famous for their Cannubi Barolo; their 2012 is quite impressive. Offering classic aromas of dried cherry, tar and dried roses, this is medium-full with very good concentration. The mid-palate is quite rich and harmonious and there is excellent persistence. On the palate, this wine is exquisite! Excellent – peak in 12-15 years.
I happened to visit the winery on my birthday in December, and Valentina Abbona was thoughtful enough to serve two older examples of Barolo: the 2006 Sarmassa and the 1990 classic Barolo (Marchesi di Barolo has an extensive older library of Barolo). Both wines have plenty of life – 2006 was a particularly powerful Barolo vintage – and the 1990, from another ripe, rich vintage, was particularly impressive, with classic notes of leather and balsamic in the nose. Both wines have at least another 10-12 years of pleasure to offer the patient- and in this case, lucky – wine lover!
I love the Barolos from Serralunga d’Alba; if I had to name one commune as my favorite, this would be it, given the typical combination of richness, ripeness and structure in the best wines from here; some of the finest producers of Serralunga include Ettore Germano, Baudana, Giovanni Rosso, Fontanafredda and Paolo Manzone (then of course, think about the great Monfortino Barolo from Conterno, from a Serralunga vineyard, as well as the amazing Falleto Barolos from Bruno Giacosa).
There are always new wines to try as well as producers I had never seen, so I visited Palladino, in the heart of the town. This is an ultratraditional producer and the wines are sublime! The Serralunga commune Barolo is medium-full and so beautifully balanced – I find these commune Serralunga Barolos to be so well made and offer such fine value. This is approachable now, and will drink well for 10-12 years.
The Ornato Barolo is a robust wine with firm tannins; in other words, a typical Serralunga Barolo. This has aromas of dried orange peel, red cherry and talc powder; medium-full with excellent concentration, this needs a lot of time to settle down; expect peak drinking in 20 years plus. The best 2012 Barolo from Palladino, however, is the Parafada. Displaying a lovely young garnet color, with aromas of oregano, red cherry, sage and cedar, this has excellent complexity, rich, balanced tannins and very good acidity. It is supremely balanced and is a superb expression of terroir, and for my tastes, one of the very best of the 2012 Barolos. This is quite rich, but also a wine that has marvelous subtleties and a pronounced feminine quality. It is a wine that speaks of its site and a Barolo with anima – soul. Keep an eye out for this wine, whatever the vintage. This will be at its best in 15-20 years.
I will write about more 2012 Barolos in the next post. For now, here is a short list of the finest Barolos from 2012:
Top Ten 2012 Barolos
Ceretto “Bricco Rocche”
Einaudi “Nei Cannubi”
Elio Grasso “Casa Ginestra Maté”
Paolo Scavino “Bricco Ambrogio”
Marcarini “La Serra”
If you love Barolo and want to learn more about this great wine – or many other wines from Piemonte, please consider purchasing my recently published book The Wines and Foods of Piemonte.
The book is available at amazon (click here).