Great vintages have a habit of throwing a few surprises as dramatic quality extends beyond the normal overachievers, hence the need to taste as widely as possible. In many ways, that is a key feature of a great vintage; the quality of the grapes is so high at the point of harvest that everyone’s chances of producing a great wine are increased, provided there are no issues with regard to the winemaking or ageing.
2016 is a great vintage for Piemonte. Too early to call? I have tasted so many impressive examples now, that I feel confident in making that statement. It is all to do with the richness of fruit, the finesse of the tannins allied to an inherent sense of freshness – it is seldom that young Barolo taste so well-balanced. To my mind, there have been two or three notable surprises in the 2016 vintage; a week or so ago, we released the Barolo Bricco Gattera from Montezemolo (an estate that had never made its way onto my hit list before) and here I am offering two wines from Parusso, again an estate that I have visited before, from whom I have bought selected wines in small quantity, but never felt compelled to back in this manner.
Parusso is an enviably situated estate; providing sweeping views over Barolo from the top of the ridge that runs down from Monforte d’Alba to Castiglione Falletto. While this estate is just bringing its fifth generation on board, it is Marco Parusso and his attention to their vineyard holdings, who has propelled this estate further forward. The family own 28 hectares of vineyard in total, but it is the three notable Crus or single vineyards of Bussia, Mosconi and Mariondino that are the most cherished holdings. What impressed me most about the two Cru we have opted to purchase is the purity of fruit. Parusso age their Barolo in small oak for eighteen months, followed by six months in bottle before release, but there is barely a hint of oak, so rich is the fruit. Marco Parusso isn’t one for following the herd; he harvests as late as possible and allows the fruit to rest in temperature-controlled conditions for three days before crushing.
To be clear, the Bussia hits a level that few Bussia hit (and Bussia is highly regarded as one of the top sites) – this is one of the larger Cru of the region and growers have commented that there are sections that should never have been included in this famous vineyard. Fortunately, Parusso own two exceptional parcels oriented southeast and southwest, namely Rocche and Munie (both subzones of Bussia) where vine age extends to approximately 50 years. Bussia is a powerful Barolo but the key to this Cru’s reputation is the finesse, which is attributed to the white chalky, marly soils. The 2016 is staggering as there is such a cushioned sense of depth on the mid-palate, it is completely startling and signals a great success. Parusso practise long macerations between juice and skins, and it feels like this has really aided the tannins, and the fruit characters reveal a sense of dark cherries and berries that have been steeped, all lifted by floral nuances and a tangy citrus note…this is a ‘wow’ wine. The Mariondino has impressed me in previous years for its approachability, but in 2016 it has an added sense of richness and intensity, whilst not losing the more supple nature typical of this Cru. Here the soils are more marl and sandstone, which accounts for this more accessible style. In contrast to Antonio Galloni’s note below, I would suggest this could drink earlier than 2026 and I didn’t find the wine to be particularly heady; in fact, our conclusion was that there was ample dark fruit on show, but surprising lift. Once more the texture and handling of the tannins were outstanding. Having tasted this just a couple of weeks ago, I can only assume that the freshness and poise have reasserted themselves somewhat since Galloni tasted earlier in the year.
Volumes here are small as you would expect, with just 580 cases (12x75cl) of Mariondino and 620 of Bussia produced. We are delighted to be directly engaged here, after a period where Parusso seemed to have disappeared from the UK market on account of a change in distribution. They are back and these two wines make quite some statement.
2016 Barolo, Bussia, Parusso
96+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
£360 per 6 bottle case in bond
Marco Parusso's 2016 Barolo Bussia brings together all the best elements of his style and year in a wine that is simply brilliant. Sweet floral notes, dark red fruit, mint, blood orange and spice infuse the 2016 with myriad layers of complexity. A bold, dramatic Barolo made from Rocche and Munie fruit, the 2016 is going to need a number of years to be at its best. 2026-2041
2016 Barolo, Mariondino, Parusso
94 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
£240 per 6 bottle case in bond
The 2016 Barolo Mariondino is another potent, heady wine in this range. The red fruit and floral notes typical of this site emerge, but the Mariondino is big and very dark in 2016. Like all of these Barolos, the Mariondino is built for the long haul. In most vintages, Mariondino is a Barolo of sensuality but the 2016 is a real powerhouse. Time in the glass brings out red fruit and floral notes, but this is an XL Barolo. 2026-2041
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