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Barolo 2016 & Riserva 2014: Report and 100 wines tasted
There are plenty of excellent wines from 2016, but how did the 2014 Riservas fare? Stephen Brook reports
The great majority of these wines were tasted blind in January 2020 at the Nebbiolo Prima event in Alba, while others were tasted (non-blind) at the Grandi Langhe event that followed immediately after in Alba.
Others were tasted in London at importers’ tastings. Unfortunately at least one major tasting had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus, so some wines from top producers could not be tasted. And, as always, many estates choose not to pour their wines at tasting events.
It was obvious a year ago, when the 2016 Barbarescos came on the market, that this was an exceptional vintage for Nebbiolo. Even though the 2015 vintage had been met with acclaim, it seemed to many that the 2016s were even better – an impression confirmed after tasting the 2016 Barolos.
Dozens of excellent wines have had to be omitted from the recommendations that follow simply because there is not space to cover them all. Moreover, one finds the same diversity of styles as in a less homogenous vintage. House styles and vineyard typicity have not been eradicated by the high ripeness levels.
After a mild, dry winter, a rainy spring followed which helped to restore the water table. It was not especially warm, so there was little disease. The relatively cool temperatures also slowed the ripening season, and this continued through the summer and well into September.
There was some rainfall, so the summer was not too parched, as rain fell at moderate intervals. Indeed, some rain was beneficial, and constant breezes kept disease at bay. The only fly in the ointment was limited hail damage in some Barolo vineyards such as Cerequio and in La Morra too.
The fine weather brought the grapes to high but not excessive ripeness levels, and the harvest continued at a relaxed pace until mid-October. Vietti in Castiglione Falletto, for example, picked from 6 to 12 October.
However, the weather had been slightly cooler than in 2015 and this made a significant difference, as acidity levels in the Nebbiolo were higher than in the preceding vintage. The vinifications were straightforward, and malolactic fermentation was completed at a leisurely pace. Moreover, alcohol levels were slightly lower than in 2015. There were a handful of flabby, overripe wines but they were very much the exceptions.
Stephen’s top Barolo 2016 & Barolo Riserva 2014 wines:
Einaudi Barolo “Cannubi” DOCG 2016– 92 Points
Einaudi has a 2.4ha holding in Cannubi at an elevation of 220 metres. The fruit receives a long maceration before traditional ageing. It’s still reserved, especially on the nose. At present it tastes supple and forward, but there is also concentration and flesh. There does seem to be a slight lack of nuance and complexity, but the finish is elegant and persistent. This may well be more persuasive after more bottle age.
Drinking Window 2022 – 2038
By Stephen Brook | Decanter
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