2017 Barolo, Rocche dell’Annunziata, Renato Corino
£240 per 6 bottle case in bond
2017 Barolo, Roncaglie, Stefano Corino
£195 per 6 bottle case in bond
Following up a vintage like 2016 in Barolo was always going to be tough. When a region witnesses a great vintage, defined by a remarkably high average quality across all levels, the next vintage, however good, is likely to struggle for the limelight.
Equally, in a region like Barolo, where prices remain remarkably fair, things are complicated further still as growers simply don’t have the chance to flex prices to further incentivise interest – they are starting from a low base. Prices remain incredibly consistent year after year in most cases and for drinkers and investors this has been part of the attraction. Most Barolo producers are remarkably down to earth, content to make wines to the best of their ability, to charge a fair price and allow the market to make of them what it will.
Renato Corino in La Morra is one such grower. I have known Renato for over a decade and visits to his estate are comfortably some of the most enjoyable that I make on account of his openness and humour. To me, his Barolo typify the qualities I associate specifically 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 Rocche dell’Annunziata is the leading wine in his range – this site 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. As I have mentioned before, Rocche dell’Annunziata lies at 300 metres above sea level and comprises 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.
After having offered something like 12 or 13 vintages of Renato’s Rocche, I felt I had a real handle on the wine, noting the subtle changes in character brought about by different vintage conditions. Rocche features slopes that face south, south-east and south-west. In a hot, dry vintage such as 2017, I expected a denser, weightier style of Rocche; perhaps a little fuller on or headstrong than slightly cooler, more classical years and yet what I found in my glass belied the vintage conditions. Somehow, the decisions taken to deal with this hot, dry vintage have resulted in a more streamlined wine than I could have imagined, and the quality of the tannins renders this a remarkable Rocche. I think it is one of the most captivating vintages I have ever tasted from this illustrious vineyard. Please see my full note below on this surprising 2017 and I have included Antonio Galloni’s note for reference. His words are praise indeed, picking up on the textural aspect, but I personally would have gone higher with the score!