THE highlight of Nebbiolo Prima has always been the preview of the Barolos, the flagship wine of Piedmont. In the 2019 edition of Nebbiolo Prima, a vast majority or approximately two-thirds of all the wines blind-tasted were from the Barolo region.
The Barolo region has higher altitude vineyards compared to Barbaresco, and is located more to the south-west, while Barbaresco is north-east of Langhe. Within Barolo, communes do vary too in altitude, with Serralunga d’Alba and Monforte d’Alba on the higher areas and Castiglioni Falleto and La Morra on the lower slopes.
2015: AN EXCELLENT VINTAGE
In 2015, the Langhe in Piedmont experienced its hottest July since 1880 which could have dramatically affected the quality of the wine. But fortuitous circumstances not only saved the vines but also helped push the quality of the 2015 such that it is one of the most anticipated vintages of the region of late.
The windy conditions of July and August gave the vines much needed relief from the heat. The higher sloped Barolo region benefited more from the winds in aiding the proper ripening of the nebbiolo grapes. The wet winter at the start of the year resulted in plenty of reservoir water which came in handy in combating the dry and hot summer.
The nebbiolo was harvested in the last week of September, with yields from vineyards falling by as much as double-digit percentages from normal yields. Quality, however, was considered unanimously as from very good to exceptional.
BLIND-TASTED AND RATED
Of the 288 wines featured at the Nebbiolo Prima, 163 were from the Barolo 2015 vintage and 32 were from the Barolo Riserva 2013 vintage. Some of the best Barolos I have tasted in my past three visits to Nebbiolo Prima came from this batch. Consider that in Nebbiolo Prima 2015, I blind-tasted 268 Barolo 2011 and 40 Barolo Riserva 2009 wines; in Nebbiolo Prima 2016, the number of wines went up further, with 272 Barolo 2012 and 44 Barolo Riserva 2010 wines — easily over 60% more than the Barolos I tasted in the most recent Nebbiolo Prima.
At Nebbiolo Prima 2019, wines from the Barolo communes of Verduno, Monforte d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, and even smaller ones with one or two wineries like Rodi and Diano d’Alba, were extremely impressive. I gave 65 of the 163 Barolo 2015 scores of 90 points and above — this represents 39.9% of all Barolo wines tasted. While for Barolo Riserva 2013, I gave nine of the 32 wines 90 points, 28.1% of the total Riservas tasted.
There are 10 communes within the Barolo DOCG region, namely: La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Novello, Verduno, Rodi, Cherasco, and Diano d’Alba. Of the 163 Barolo DOCG wines blind-tasted, 36 come from La Morra, 29 from Monforte d’Alba, 23 from Barbaresco (the commune of the same regional name), 22 from Serralunga d’Alba, 13 from Castiglione Falletto, 10 from Novello, eight from Verduno, two from Rodi, one apiece from Cherasco and Diano d’Alba, and 18 with no specific communes/blended from different communes.
Note that Barolo DOCG requires an ageing period of 38 months (including 18 months in oak barrels) before commercial release, while Barolo Riserva DOCG requires an ageing period of 62 months (including 18 months in oak barrels). Both these age requirements are 14 months above their Barbaresco counterparts.
Below are my top wines from this batch of Barolo DOCG 2015:
Rank # 1-2: 95 points
1. Cascina Sòt Barolo DOCG 2015 — “fruit forward, jammy nose, luscious, lovely expression, deep and delicious, racy acids, powerful with amazing relentless length; good for long haul but with some breathing, wine tastes so well even now”
2. Castello di Verduno Barolo DOCG 2015 — “fragrant, very fruity, alluring, powerful mouthfeel, good concentration, very supple with so much depth, continues to evolve beautifully, a superbly balanced wine”
Rank # 3-4: 94 points
3. Bel Colle Barolo DOCG 2015 Monvigliero — “sophisticated nose, black cherries, nice subtle oak, delicious fruits from start to finish, racy acids, high ageing potential; surreal”
4. Mauro Veglio Barolo DOCG 2015 Gattera — “vanilla, mint, more captivating with each whiff, good complexity, tannins still firm, packed with flavors, extremely generous with so much more to give for so many years to come”
Rank #5-10: 93 points.
5. Dosio Barolo DOCG 2015 — “very vivacious, fruit salad, tantalizing acid, ripe and juicy all the way; an extraordinary wine”
6. La Collina di Dioniso Barolo DOCG 2015 — “vanilla, cookies and cream, spicy, flinty, complex on the mouth with so much happening intertwining fruits and herbs, bitter-sweet finish”
7. Morra Diego Barolo DOCG 2015 Monvigliero — “fresh, ripe, alluring, deeply concentrated, spicy, cinammon, supple on the palate with provocative lingering finish”
8. Pelassa Barolo DOCG 2015 San Lorenzo — “surreal nose of intensity and depth, very fresh with so much vivacious fruits, supple on palate, lots of flavors from red berries to white chocolate, very lengthly finish”
9. Pietro Rinaldi Barolo DOCG 2015 Monvigliero — “more subtle nose, vanilla, cedar-sweet, delicious on palate, full-flavored, long and concentrated at the end”
10. Pira Luigi di Gianpaolo Pira Barolo DOCG 2015 Margheria — “vanilla, plums, cherries, good depth, powerful on the palate, lovely juiciness, amazing length with absolute long term ageing potential”
Rank #11-20: 92 points
11. Alessandria Fratelli Barolo DOCG 2015 Gramolere
12. Alessandria Fratelli Barolo DOCG 2015 Monvigliero
13. Bovio Gianfranco Barolo DOCG 2015 Rocchettevino
14. Cagliero Barolo DOCG 2015 Ravera
15. Conterno Diego Barolo DOCG 2015 Ginestra
16. Morra Diego Barolo DOCG 2015
17. Oddero Poderi e Cantine Barolo DOCG 2015 Villero
18. Paolo Manzone Barolo DOCG 2015 Meriame
19. Pecchenino Barolo DOCG 2015 Bussia
20. Rizieri Barolo DOCG 2015 Rizieri
Rank # 21-37: 91 points
21. 460 Casina Bric Barolo DOCG 2015 Bricco Delle Viole
22. Alario Claudio Barolo DOCG 2015 Sorano
23. Boroli Barolo DOCG 2015 Villero
24. Bovio Gianfranco Barolo DOCG 2015 Gattera
25. Dosio Barolo DOCG 2015 Serradenari
26. Fenocchio Giacomo Barolo DOCG 2015 Bussia
27. Fontana Livia Barolo DOCG 2015 Villero
28. Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Barolo DOCG 2015 Cannubi
29. Le Cecche Barolo DOCG 2015 Bricco San Pietro
30. Olivero Mario Barolo DOCG 2015 Bricco Ambrogio
31. Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2015
32. Pira-Chiara Boschis Barolo DOCG 2015 Via Nuova
33. Prunotto Barolo DOCG 2015
34. Raineri Gianmatteo Barolo DOCG 2015 Perno
35. Roccheviberti Barolo DOCG 2015 Rocche Di Castiglione
36. Serradenari Giulia Negri Barolo DOCG 2015 La Tartufaia
37. Vietti Barolo DOCG 2015 Ravera
Rank #38-65: 90 points
38. Abrigo Fratelli Barolo DOCG 2015 Ravera
39. Agricola Giampiero Marrone Barolo DOCG 2015 Pichemej
40. Arnaldo Rivera Barolo DOCG 2015 Arnaldorivera Monvigliero
41. Ascheri Barolo DOCG 2015 Sorano
42. Barale Fratelli Barolo DOCG 2015 Bussia
43. Benevelli Piero di Benevelli Massimo Barolo DOCG 2015 Ravera Di Monforte
44. Boasso Franco-Gabutti Barolo DOCG 2015 Gabutti
45. Boroli Barolo DOCG 2015 Brunella
46. Bricco Giubellini Barolo DOCG 2015 Del Comune di Monforte d’Alba
47. Bricco Maiolica Barolo DOCG 2015 Contadin
48. Casa E. di Mirafiore Barolo DOCG 2015 Paiagallo
49. Cascina Adelaide Barolo DOCG 2015 Cannubi
50. Cascina del Monastero Barolo DOCG 2015 Bricco Luciani
51. Castello di Radda Barolo DOCG 2015 Castelletto
52. Conterno Fantino Barolo DOCG 2015 Vigna Sori Ginestra
53. Crissante Alessandria Barolo DOCG 2015 Capalot
54. Crissante Alessandria Barolo DOCG 2015 Galina
55. Marengo Mauro Barolo DOCG 2015
56. Monchiero Fratelli Barolo DOCG 2015 Rocche Di Castiglione
57. Negretti Barolo DOCG 2015 Bricco Ambrogio
58. Palladino Barolo DOCG 2015 Parafada
59. Pecchenino Barolo DOCG 2015 San Giuseppe
60. Poderi Colla Barolo DOCG 2015 Bussia Dardi Le Rose
61. Rocche Costamagna Barolo DOCG 2015 Rocche Dell’Annunziata
62. Stroppiana Dario Barolo DOCG 2015 San Giacomo
63. Vietti Barolo DOCG 2015 Lazzarito
64. Virna Borgogno Barolo DOCG 2015 Cannubi
65. Vite Colte Barolo DOCG 2015 Essenze Del Comune di Barolo
For the Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013, I gave nine out of the 32 entries scores of 90 points and above:
Rank # 1: 95 points
1. Gomba Cascina Boschetti Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Boschetti — “a super fruit bomb, luscious and captivating on all levels from nose, palate to finish, amazing depth with no signs of letdown even for long-haul keeping”
Rank # 2: 93 points
2. Cascina Adelaide Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Per Elen — “sophisticated nose, cinammon, cedar, very viscous on the palate, delicious, grainey, long raisiney finish; a wine that makes an excellent argument for extended oak-ageing”
Rank # 3-4: 91 points
3. Fontanafredda Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013
4. Piazzo Armando Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Sottocastello Di Novello
Rank #5-9: 90 points
5. Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Cannubi
6. Gigi Rosso Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Arione Dell’Ulivo
7. Palladino Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 San Bernardo
8. Renzo Seghesio Cascina Pajana Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Ginestra Vigna Pajana
9. Rivetto dal 1902 Barolo Riserva DOCG 2013 Leon
Please be aware that some brands have been cited more than once, and that is why the “Cru Village” name is attached to the Barolo brand if the cru is included, to show the different labels of the same Barolo producer. For example, by coincidence I gave two wines from Alessandria Fratelli both 92 points, but one wine is from the Gramorele Cru in the Monforte commune, and other is from the Monvigliero Cru in the Verduno commune.
Barolo lovers have a lot to cheer about with this batch of new releases. A vast majority of these brands will probably not come our way here in Manila, but if there is a chance to buy them online, or to go to nearby Hong Kong or Singapore to look for these 2015 Barolos, it will definitely be worth the effort!
The author has been a member of the Federation Internationale des Journalists et Ecrivains du Vin et des Spiritueux or FIJEV since 2010. For comments, inquiries, wine event coverage, and other wine-related concerns, e-mail the author at email@example.com. He is also on Twitter at twitter.com/sherwinlao.