How would you define a tricky vintage? Perhaps a vintage where your vineyards had to endure hail and heavy rain over the summer months? Perhaps ‘tricky’ isn’t the word, ‘taxing’ might be more appropriate, as in 2014 in Piemonte, growers had to be unusually attentive in the vineyard to safeguard their vines and fruit. This was a challenge and, as ever, not everyone is well-enough equipped or able to meet the challenge. One estate that demonstrated its class in 2014 is Vietti, as Simon explains below.
Antonio Galloni chose to score the 2014 vintage 89 points overall, but included the following caveat…” My rating of the vintage reflects the overall, average level of the wines. If looking only at the best wines, the vintage rating would be considerably higher”. Of Galloni’s top ten wines of the vintage in his review ‘2014 Barolo: Surprise, surprise’, three of them are from Vietti and they all bear comparison to previous, great vintages. You could be forgiven for thinking there was one type of vintage for Barolo and another for Vietti - this was borne out by our own tastings in the region this year; the Vietti wines were a class apart. Take a look at the drink dates suggested by Galloni below; this was no lightweight vintage at Vietti.
On account of the weather conditions, yields across the board in Piemonte were down by 30-50%. In light of this, Vietti’s Luca Currado chose not to bottle one of their single vineyard Barolo, ‘Brunate’; instead he blended the small amount of Brunate they had made into the Barolo ‘Castiglione’, which is the entry level wine comprising fruit from 10 different crus. Blending away one of your top crus like this is not a decision taken lightly by winemakers (Vietti’s Brunate sells for around £600 per 6 in bond, whereas the Castiglione sells for £175 per 6 in bond). Making difficult decisions like this says a great deal about the approach of a given estate…consistent quality has to be upheld at all times. Brunate’s loss is Castiglione’s gain; the 2014 is a brilliant Castiglione with attractive layers of fresh red fruits, underscored by a vibrant acidity and dried rose petals on the finish.
As to the two Barolo Crus, ‘Ravera’ and ‘Lazzarito’, they shone in our tastings, perhaps more lifted in terms of aromatics than might be typical, but both with a good core of fruit…Ravera showing that it will need patience, but also showing the qualities that have led to this Cru from Novello receiving more praise than in the past; very pure, beautifully defined with a sense of tautness to its structure. I think this will prove to be a fascinating Ravera in time. The Lazzarito, from Serralunga d’Alba is possibly one of the most underrated in Vietti’s stable; it combines intense fruit with complex tobacco leaf and mineral notes. It shows terrific refinement in 2014, perhaps less assertive than in some vintages.
Antonio Galloni commented on the surprising quality he found at selected estates when tasting the 2014s, but I think there may well be a greater surprise to come when these wines have seen sufficient time in bottle.
2014 Barolo, Ravera, Vietti
£625 per 6 bottle case in bond
97 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
Another highlight in this range, the 2014 Barolo Ravera opens with the most exquisite, captivating aromatics imaginable. It will be interesting to see if it develops a bit more midpalate depth and pliancy. Today, the 2014 is a bit austere, even within the context of the year and this site, where the wines are a bit on the nervous side to start. I have seen Vietti Raveras blossom into spectacular wines and imagine that will be the case here as well. Readers should not plan on opening a bottle anytime soon. 2026-2054.
2014 Barolo, Lazzarito, Vietti
£625 per 6 bottle case in bond
96 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
In many ways, the gorgeous 2014 Barolo Lazzarito is the most surprising wine in the range. Once a stylistic outlier with a considerable French oak influence, today it is much closer to the other Barolos in terms of feel. Deep, dark and intense, with all of the energy of the year very much on display, the Lazzarito is super-expressive and shows a more red-toned profile than is the norm. Kirsch, mint, rose petal and chalk all develop in the glass, while beams of tannin and salinity give the wine shape and persistence. The weight and depth of Serralunga come through on the midpalate and into the finish. Even so, this is in a decidedly laid-back style for Serralunga. In 2014, I especially like the wine's aromatic presence. 2026-2054.
2014 Barolo, Castiglione, Vietti
£180 per 6 bottle case in bond
93 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
The 2014 Barolo Castiglione is superb. Nuanced, layered and sculpted in the glass, the Castiglione is a wine of real precision and class. In 2014, the Castiglione is medium in body and gracious, with perhaps a bit less stuffing than in some previous editions, but tons of persistence. Hints of lavender, rose petal and red berry fruit lead into the crystalline, translucent finish. Time in the glass brings out this gorgeous Barolo's more refined side. Once again, the Castiglione is a real overachiever. The Castiglione is built on a core of Ravera, with a complement of fruit from other sites that are often vineyard-designated by other producers. 2020-2034.