This is going to be the first of a number of offers focusing on the 2016 vintage in Barolo. I would advise anyone who is interested in great Nebbiolo to ensure they do not miss out; 2016 has truly great potential.
I always enjoy reading Walter Speller’s vintage commentaries on jancisrobinson.com – his views are often a refreshing rebuff to the sensationalism that can creep into fine wine critics’ approaches, yet even he had to concede that he ‘didn’t go to Barolo with the idea that I was going to taste one of the best vintages in, perhaps, the last 20 years…’ but he found himself surprised when he re-read his notes to see just how highly he had rated so many of the wines.
Walter succinctly describes the vintage as follows:
Barolo 2016s show the same tendency as 2010: across the board there is no mediocre wine to be found and the best producers have excelled themselves. The secret to all this splendour is the regular 2016 growing season, one without any extremes. The warm, dry September continued into October, but with much colder nights, and with temperatures dipping below 10 °C. This guaranteed a slow and steady ripening of Nebbiolo. With little or no rain, producers could literally pick their harvest date rather than being rushed into the vineyards lest the first autumn rains dilute the grapes.
When I caught up with Gianluca Grasso on the second of my trips to Piemonte last year, he commented that he felt, for him personally, 2016 represented the greatest vintage in the last 30 years. And again, Gianluca is not someone who is prone to making bold statements or baseless claims. Having tasted the two single vineyard Barolo that Grasso produce from Monforte d’Alba, I can fully understand his confidence, he has shaped spellbinding wines in 2016. I have been visiting the Grassos since the 2001 vintage and have known their wines from bottle since the 1996 vintage. In the last decade they have lifted the bar hugely, with remarkably fine Barolo made in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and now 2016. As with a number of other estates, they have benefited from an unprecedented run of high-quality vintages, dictated first and foremost by the weather during the growing season, but equally Gianluca’s deft hand in winemaking has brought about greater purity and nuance in the estate’s wines. Gianluca, and his father Elio, have always stressed that wine is made in the vineyard and Gianluca often talks about the run up to harvest and the fraught few days he endures while waiting for the fruit to achieve optimum ripeness. With less pressure from the possibility of inclement weather at harvest time in 2016, he was able to hold off for the perfect moment, allowing his Nebbiolo a longer hang-time than might be the case in certain vintages. The results are very impressive.
No major wine critic has yet reviewed the 2016s from Grasso and our go-to Italian critic, Antonio Galloni, is yet to release his comprehensive review of the vintage. He was a great fan of Grasso’s 2015s; I wait with interest to see what he makes of the outstanding 2016s.
Please note that, despite getting a very good allocation direct from the estate, stocks are limited, and we may therefore have to limit orders to one case of each wine.
2016 Barolo, Ginestra, Casa Maté, Grasso
£360 per 6 bottle case in bond
A south-facing vineyard with vines of approximately 40 years of age, planted at an altitude of 300 to 350 metres. The soils here are slightly clayey over a limestone base.
Wow, the aromas here offer a deep, fresh yet intense dark fruit, with hints of mint. The palate reveals an effortless, creamy density of fruit; flowing, sleek with a dark, damson-like fruit, with notes of liquorice and spice allied to a lifted, scented accent. This has tremendous depth and already boasts fine complexity. The tannins are so silkily expressed, and there is such a dramatic volume to the fruit, that the latent power here is expressed in such a fine manner, almost masked you might say. There is a seamlessness about this vintage, juicy, abundant and remarkably persistent, this ticks all the boxes. A seductive Barolo with outstanding depth. A great achievement. 2026-2045+. (SL)
2016 Barolo, Gavarini, Chiniera, Grasso
£360 per 6 bottle case in bond
Similarly, a south-facing vineyard with vines of approximately 35 years of age, planted at a slightly higher altitude of 350 to 400 metres. The soils differ slightly to Casa Maté as there is a little more sand, over the limestone.
Such a finessed Barolo, the 2016 Chiniera possesses wonderfully pure aromatics of freshly crushed red fruits, mint and a violet hint. Silky and fine-tuned on the palate, the sense of depth gradually builds, with a layered red fruits character capturing notes of cherry and pomegranate. Juicy, precise with a lively vein of acidity underpinning it beautifully, the tannins are once more remarkably fine and rocky mineral nuances emerge to the finish. Another staggeringly beautiful, sensual Barolo from Grasso with a lingering floral note to its abundant red fruits. A remarkably complete wine. 2026-2045+. (SL)
And if you are looking for a young Nebbiolo to drink while your Barolo slowly mature, it is well worth considering Grasso’s Nebbiolo Langhe, Gavarini, which is already drinking well now in the 2017 vintage and represents something of a snip. No oak ageing and a gentle, short extraction make for a ready drinking style that captures those unmistakable floral notes and bright fruits of young Nebbiolo.
2017 Nebbiolo, Langhe, Gavarini, Grasso
£90 per 6 bottle case in bond
Made in a lighter, early drinking style from younger vines, the 2017 Gavarini Nebbiolo offers floral, bright, red berry fruit without any heft or austerity. This supple mid-weight example possesses a supple, forward nature, but isn’t without a touch of the Grasso class. 2020-2024 (SL)
Please let us know of your interest,
All the best,