It still amazes me that certain estates in Barolo deliver great quality, have been well-reviewed by major critics and yet remain stubbornly under the radar. The one major upside of this circumstance is just how keen their release prices remain, even in a stellar vintage such as 2016.
I have been visiting Renato Corino in La Morra for over a decade, having initially followed the advice of a good Italian friend and sommelier; it remains one of the most enjoyable visits on our tasting tour on account of Renato’s humour and openness.
In 2003, Renato left his family’s estate, which operated under his father’s name, Giovanni Corino, to establish his own. He retained his share of the Corino family’s vineyards in the key Crus of Rocche dell’Annuziata and Arborina. I was so impressed from that very first visit and I believe this is the twelfth vintage of Renato’s wines that I have offered. To me, his Barolo typify the qualities I associate with La Morra: a certain silkiness on the palate and a softness of texture that combine to create a sense of accessibility not common to many Barolo districts, while possessing a generous ripeness of fruit. His generic Barolo, ‘del Comune di La Morra’, is often one of the great values of the region, while the ‘Rocche’ itself delivers what you would expect from such a highly revered vineyard.
To be clear, Rocche dell’Annunziata ranks as one of the greatest vineyards not just of La Morra but of the whole of Barolo – it would be considered equivalent to a Grand Cru. It possesses a long history, dating back beyond 1194, when it was the property of the Benedictine Abbey of San Martino in the village of La Morra. So many growers own a small part of this 30-hectare vineyard, which goes some way to justify its importance – it is no coincidence that the estates of Bartolo Mascarello, Paolo Scavino, Roberto Voerzio, Mauro Veglio or Lorenzo Accomasso, amongst others, all have holdings here. Rocche dell’Annunziata lies at 300 metres above sea level and comprises south, south-east and south-west facing slopes, where the vineyards are based on calcareous clay, almost chalky white on the higher parts of the slope, with a high proportion of silt. This soil composition is said to lead to the striking perfume and silky textural character common to the wines of this Cru.
The 2016 vintage was a serious success at Corino – the freshness of the vintage has lifted the aromatics and added poise to the wines. In the 2016 vintage, we are pleased to offer a new Cru also from La Morra, the ‘Roncaglie’ made entirely by Renato’s son, Stefano, from a tiny parcel of less than a hectare, equating to 1500 bottles. The Cru of Roncaglie lies towards the north of La Morra, on the border with Verduno and therefore picks up those elegant character traits with softer, fragrant red berry notes. Judging by the quality of this first vintage, the future of winemaking at this estate is in very safe hands!
Please see below for the new releases and my tasting notes.
2016 Barolo, Rocche dell’Annunziata, Renato Corino
£240 per 6 bottle case in bond
A classic Rocche with terrific, lifted aromatics and notes of ripe, perfumed dark fruits. There is a generous, softly-textured fruit profile of dark berry, mint with notes of spice and tobacco, allied to creamy cocoa and vanilla. As ample as the fruit is, there is nothing heady or overblown here and you are left with an impression of very fine poise as well as a layered fruit with fine richness. The quality of the tannins in 2016 is impeccable, so fine-grained, that they are almost masked by the volume of ripe fruit on show, but don’t be fooled, this Cru has significant ability to age. The added freshness and refinement that seems a hallmark of the 2016s is once more on show leading to a long flowing finish. A great showing from Renato’s top wine. Drink 2024-2038. (SL)
2016 Barolo, Roncaglie, Stefano Corino
£200 per 6 bottle case in bond
The Roncaglie 2016 is such an elegant style, the aromas reveal juicy, fragrant, gently minty, admirably red berry fruits. Sleek and pure on the palate, the fruit is less extrovert than in the Rocche as befits a wine from a vineyard towards Verduno. Complexity gradually builds with notes of fresh tobacco and wild mint adding intrigue to the juicy red berry fruit. As per the Corino style, the texture impresses greatly as this refined La Morra Cru leads to a gently mineral finish. This could prove tempting with just a few years in bottle, such is the elegance. A great way for Stefano to start. Drink 2023 to 2030. (SL)
And for those looking for a bargain in Barolo…please note the price of the following two wines is per 12!
2016 Barolo del Comune di La Morra, Renato Corino
£250 per 12 bottle case in bond
Renato’s entry level Barolo is a smart buy in vintages such as 2016…this reminds me of the 2010 with its deep-knit, textural fruit. It comes across as a more accessible, mid-weight style of the Rocche (though one parcel comes from Serralunga) with similar mint and spice notes. In strong vintages this captures a surprising depth and finesse as is the case in 2016. Creamy coated, finely ripe dark fruits lead to an elegant finish. This is a snip in 2016 not to be overlooked! Drink 2022 to 2030. (SL)
And for a great Nebbiolo Langhe to drink upon shipment, Corino’s 2019 is well worth a look and from another fine vintage. Some of the fruit for the Nebbiolo is sourced from young Barolo vines. Again, the price is per 12!
2019 Nebbiolo Langhe, Renato Corino
£160 per 12 bottle case in bond
This comes from a hectare of vines to the south in an area called Vezza d’Alba (supplemented with young vine fruit from Barolo) and frankly, it is a gem of a wine. The vines in Vezza are on average 40 years of age. This is a wine destined for early consumption, yet it does not lack concentration with rosy aromas to its supple cherry-like fruit, backed by a juicy freshness. This is an appealing Nebbiolo for drinking on release. Drink 2020 to 2023. (SL)
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,