We offered a Barolo from a relatively unknown producer back in September after I was able to buy a parcel of their 2016 vintage. On a recent trip to Piemonte, I made a point of calling to see Andrea Bosco at Bosco Agostino in La Morra, as I was intrigued to understand more of the wines and the estate. The 2016 Barolo, Neirane, struck me as the product of a fine vineyard and a skilled winemaker, so why wouldn’t I? Before I go too far, I want to thank someone for the introduction – I really appreciated the tip. They will know who they are when they read this line so anonymity can be preserved.
Andrea owns a small estate with six hectares of vines, four and a half in the commune of La Morra and one and a half in Verduno. Among his holdings are two impressive parcels within Cru vineyards, namely La Serra in La Morra and Neirane in Verduno. He has augmented his estate with acquisitions in La Morra, which he blends to make a hugely impressive cuvée, his Barolo, Commune di La Morra.
As you know, most modern wine sales are made off the back of critics’ reviews and lofty scores, even though such an approach dumbs down our industry. For Andrea’s wines, I can’t bombard you with endorsements, scores and tasting notes from the wine world glitterati, but you can have my opinion and my notes from four weeks ago. Having spent several fascinating hours in his cellar, tasting every Barolo he made in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, I have absolutely no qualms in saying that Andrea deserves far greater recognition – across all these vintages his wines impressed me greatly to the extent that I would count this as one of the most memorable tastings I have had in Barolo, encompassing, as it did, wine from barrel and bottle. And, if you consider that we visited 20 estates across Barolo and Barbaresco in a full week of tasting, I was not short of references to benchmark the quality of Andrea’s wines.
The little-known estate of Bosco Agostino was founded with a view to growing grapes to sell on rather than wine production. This focus changed in 1979, at which time Andrea’s father, Agostino, joined his father, Pietro, in his labours both in the vineyard and the cellar. Today it remains a family affair. The winemaking style is reassuringly traditional, with ageing taking place in large Slavonian oak botti for 24-26 months.
We will be offering the outstanding 2019s from Andrea in the new year, but I couldn’t resist buying a few cases of his 2018s. Those of you that religiously follow reviews will consider 2018 a lesser vintage for Barolo. Certainly, it isn’t a classical, structured, long-term vintage in the mould of 2010, 2013 or 2016, but to dismiss it as mediocre is a huge mistake. I had the chance to revisit a whole host of 2018s and there were a significant number of great successes in the ripe, juicy, forward drinking style. They won’t demand huge patience – most will drink straight out the blocks, but the best show terrific purity and a layered sense of depth. Simply put, they will age over a decade or longer, but be open for drinking earlier than the classically structured vintages, which will need patience before they are ready to be broached. I thought Andrea’s 2018s were head turning – I can’t say it clearer than that, and that was before I considered the prices…I think they are a snip.
2018 Barolo, Commune di la Morra, Bosco Agostino
£130 per 6 bottle case in bond
A blend from several parcels in the commune of La Morra, renowned for a certain softness to the tannins. This blend sports an eye-catching label featuring a drawing by Andrea’s daughter!
There is a really seductive aspect to this wine in the 2018 vintage; purity and ripeness combine to great effect. Hints of menthol, dark brambly fruit and blueberry on the nose, with a note of crushed flowers. Dusky fruit nuances on the palate show a fine, flowing quality – the tannins gently underpin, showing ripe and sleek. Classy and elegant, the fruit is very much to the fore, with hints of aromatic herb, and a discreet mineral trace. An expressive Barolo that excels in the profile of the 2018 vintage. (SL) Drink 2023-2030.
2018 Barolo, Neirane, Bosco Agostino
£165 per 6 bottle case in bond
Made from a 1.2-hectare parcel of vines planted in 1989. You seldom see Neirane noted as a Cru on a label as it invariably features in blends. Neirane is situated in Verduno on the border with La Morra. The wines of Verduno are championed as being amongst the most elegant in Barolo as the soils here comprise a notable proportion of sand as well as clay. It means Barolo from Verduno can be broached quite early as the tannins are not as prominent and bold as you will find in other communes such as Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba or Castiglione Falletto.
Beautiful aromas of sweet, ripe and markedly juicy red fruits meld with a scented, floral note and a touch of orange peel. The vibrant palate reveals notes of kirsch and spiced loganberry and raspberry with a little tobacco leaf and a zesty citrus touch to the finish. This is a gorgeous Barolo – already enjoyable given the supple accent that characterises the 2018 vintage. Refined, pure and long. A real success. (SL) Drink 2024 -2032.
2018 Barolo, La Serra, Bosco Agostino
£195 per 6 bottle case in bond
Made from a 0.8-hectare parcel at an altitude of 400 metres, oriented south-east. The soil here is predominantly grey marl. I was fascinated to taste as I have only really tasted La Serra from Roberto Voerzio, which is a markedly different style, made in a modern manner. I wanted to see how La Serra faired with a more traditional approach to winemaking. I wasn’t disappointed.
Deep in hue, with soft-skinned, macerated dark fruit notes on the nose as well as a floral, lifted character – there is even a cassis-like note which I have seldom noted in Barolo. Deeply layered on the palate and underscored by a fine freshness, all dusky, steeped, beautifully ripe and juicy dark fruits, damson and notes of kirsch. Again, this shows good energy and precision, yet is unmistakably open and accessible. I am struck by the purity of the fruit once more, which picks up a touch of blood orange to the finish. Outstanding and showing a rare poise – that isn’t common to the 2018 vintage at many estates. Hard to resist. (SL) Drink 2024-2032.
So, there you have it...a new estate and an exclusivity for Atlas. I think the 2018s will provide great drinking, while you wait for the 2019s to mature. And a little heads up – the 2019s here are special and our reservation is in place – more on them to follow in late January/February.
I am never quite sure what people drink if they only buy the ‘great’ years – if you bought 2010, 2013, 2016 but nothing in between, you need to be a very patient drinker!
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,