Barolo 2010: Coming up roses

The Collisioni festival, taking place all over the town of Barolo, provided the opening round of tastings and conversation about the 2010 vintage, which is coming on to the market now. It was a year of only moderate drama, cool and somewhat wet during the summer, but any anxiety eased with a sunny and warmer September, setting up a fine harvest. (The coolness probably offset some of the effects of global warming, providing the grapes with a better balance as they finished ripening.) The resulting wines are forceful without being overbearing, and the best of them are quite elegant (I want to say they're “without arrogance”—they’ll be quite gracious and approachable when they mature, which will begin about 2020/2025).
          My personal picks follow, based on those tasted in Barolo as well as several subsequent samplings in London, minus show-offy tasting notes (the wines will change so much over the years that intimations of exact flavors would be even more ridiculous than usual; also, please note that the rankings are somewhat tenuous for the same reason. That said, all the wines that follow are recommended, with considerable enthusiasm, surely to be joined by many more as other wines become available in the next few months.)
          The top tier at the moment are Vajra “Bricco delle Viole;” Chiarlo “Cerequio;” Pio Cesare “Ornato;” Luciano SandroneCannubi Boschio;” Marchesi di Barolo “Sarmassa;” and Cordero di Montezemolo “Monfalleto.” A half-step behind are Damilano “Cannubi;” Giuseppe Rinaldi “Brunate;” Vietti “Lazzarito;” Paolo ScavinoBricco Ambrogio,” and Ratti “Rocche dell’Annunziata.” Two others deserve mention: Pio Cesare’s Barolo, a blend of five vineyards that will be ready to drink in a few years, enjoyed with lunch one day, and Fletcher, also a blend, made by David Fletcher, an Australian who has made wine in several places there and in California, and for a few years in the Piedmont. His 2010 is available in small quantities in the US and UK, and is just fabulous. Another great choice from the Nebbiolo grape, deliciously ready right now, is the Vajra “Nebbiolo delle Langhe.”

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