2010 Barolo

A vintage that warrants your attention but buying them might be a gamble.

 


So what’s not to like? 2010 Barolo is in the hype machine right now and as much as i would like to say that they hype machine is in overdrive, which it perennially is, this is one time where much might be warranted. that’s not to say that 2010 is a universally fabulous vintage. It simply is not with more than a handful of wines showing under-ripe tannins and flavors, but if you stick with the top producers you will be in for a treat, at least if you have the patience to let these wines mature. Which by my reckoning is going to take a full 20 years for the top wines. 

I was able to visit with Burlotto and Brovia twice this past spring and much of my opinion of the vintage is framed by their wines. In March of this year the wines, 2010 Barolo in general, were hard, a bit lean and showed the character of a barely ripe, but energetic and complex vintage. Red currants and herbs abounded.  The wines were leaner than they had been in 2013, and showed signs of closing up tight as a drum.
Upon tasting these wines first in March and then again in May of this year I found some flesh and fruit had returned to the wines and they resembled the barrel samples tasted in May of 2013 much more than the wines tasted just two months earlier. It just goes to show you that timing is terribly important with these sorts of things, tasting barrel samples and immature examples of particularly age worthy wines.
So what are the wines like? They are mostly brilliant though some wines do lack some flesh and have tannins that are too hard for their own good. It’s a vintage that reminds me very much of a hypothetical blend of the structure and weight of 1996 with the freshness and purity of 2008. An enviable combination to be sure but neither of these vintages was met with early acclaim, and for good reason. Both vintages are the true aficionado’s vintages, and that is where 2010 is likely to run into some difficulty.
 
We are in an age where one cannot simply comment on the high quality of a vintage, but one must exalt it. It’s the best ever! Which may be true in some cellars, but the style, the hard style sure to shut down and require many years of cellaring, that is simply not terribly popular. We all suffered when the Spectator awarded 100pts to the 2000 vintage. It’s a foolhardy task awarding perfection to an entire vintage, but the wines delivered hedonistic pleasure, and continue to do so. They are not the best wines to ever emerge from Piedmont, but on another level, the level of approachability and sheer ease of enjoyment, they very well might be. 
 
Using those criteria the 2000 vintage is a better vintage than 2010, and 2009 might also be, and 2011 certainly is shaping up to be the best hedonistic vintage ever for this region. As you can see, even I am not immune to some exaltation! So while we’re all ranting and raving about 2010s you should beware. Sadly this seems to be my shtick. warning about the vintage, but in all honesty I just don’t see balance in the reporting available for the wines of Piedmont. All I see are folks competing to award the highest scores and to call the vintage as early as possible, not really concerned about their accuracy, for as I’ve said before wine critics are never held accountable for their words. 
 
We’re also in a time when warm is bad, so 2011s are not worth paying attention to, and cold is always better, even if it might have been just a little too cold, as was the case in 2010. So these are not wines for every palate. they are however wines for the palate that prefers medium weight wines, wines sleek and seamless with terrific purity of fruit and great energy supported by high acids and rich tannins. Powerful wines that are not easy wines to understand, and will disappoint many folks out there, though at this price level many folks are just drinking the points and not the wine and will derive their pleasure from draining a 96pt wine no matter what they actually experience in the glass.
 
A note about pricing. In some parts of the Langhe 2010 was a short crop, but this cannot seriously be suggested as the reason for the rise in pricing at some wineries. It is painful to watch, the greatest values on earthy becoming just values, but Barolo is the world’s greatest wine and the fact of the matter is that the top examples have been underpriced for decades. The market has finally caught on to the never better quality to be found here, and as Burgundy continues to explode in pricing, following small harvest after small harvest, and my heart does go out to the producers once again devastated by hail in this past month, those buyers will look elsewhere for fine wine values. There is nowhere else to look my friends. Everything else, save some obscure wines such as those from Mount Etna for example, is fully priced and not as good as the best barolo.
 
As I wrote on january 5th of this year:
 
“This year we'll see the hot producers gain momentum as they receive ever higher scores and ever more attention from collectors. It should be the turning point for the Burgundification of Piedmont. I think we'll see price increases of about 50% for the great traditionalists, Monfortino having shown the way. The next tier will see similar increases, maybe 35% or a bit more. The rest of the pack will slowly filter their way to where they should be driven as much by traditional critical acclaim, which will remain more influential at the top of the market, as by vocal consumers.”

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15 Top 2010 Barolo

1.
Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia (2010)
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2.
Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (2010)
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3.
Vietti Barolo Castiglione (2010)
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4.
Brovia Barolo Rocche (2010)
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5.
Brovia Garblet Sue (2010)
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6.
E. Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi (2010)
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7.
G.B. Burlotto Barolo Vigneto Monvigliero (2010)
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8.
Fratelli Oddero Barolo Rocche di Castiglione (2010)
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9.
Vietti Barolo Lazzarito (2010)
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10.
Brovia Barolo Brea Ca'Mia (2010)
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11.
Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Tre Tine (2010)
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12.
Barolo Brunate Giuseppe Rinaldi (2010)
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13.
Massolino Barolo Parafada (2010)
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14.
Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini Chiniera (2010)
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15.
E. Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Barolo Via Nuova (2010)
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Comments

  • Snooth User: JonDerry
    Hand of Snooth
    680446 3,171

    Great report Greg...enjoyed reading it.

    Saw just about everyone up there as expected save for Giuseppe Mascarello.

    Jul 15, 2014 at 12:02 AM


  • Is there any way to print this entire article all at once?

    Jul 15, 2014 at 1:13 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 212,788

    Not at the moment but I'll put together a pdf and place the link here as soon as that is done.

    Jul 15, 2014 at 1:29 PM


  • Thanks for the great in-depth report! I am re-visiting the Barolo region in November....unfortunately I'm hearing that a lot of the wineries I want to visit are already sold out of 2010 barolo (lucky I had a reservation with G. Rinaldi from last year, otherwise I'm out of luck or trying to find some elsewhere). Any thoughts on Altare or G. Mascarello? hopefully they'll have something left at B. Mascarello when I get there

    Jul 15, 2014 at 4:31 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 168,421

    Have you had a chance to re taste the E. Pira Via Nuova? I see it in your top 15 but it's the old note. Great article!

    Jul 16, 2014 at 8:37 AM


  • Fantastic and honest report Greg! I am loving these 2010s so far and as you mentioned I am really impressed with the base barolos like Massolino's. Unfortunately Theriffraff is right! Many Barolos for 2010 are already pre-ordered or sold out like Elio Grasso ana Pira Chiara Boschis! Get them while you can!

    Jul 16, 2014 at 3:58 PM


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