NEW RELEASES - the 2020 Barolo from
'Simply so much to offer'
2020 Barolo, Neirane, Agostino Bosco - £170 per 6 bottle case in bond
2020 Barolo, La Serra, Agostino Bosco - £195 per 6 bottle case in bond
2020 Barolo, Comune di La Morra, Agostino Bosco - £140 per 6 bottle case in bond
I am a frequent traveller to Piemonte - I have been fascinated by the region since my earliest days in wine, and at Atlas, we have become something of a specialist when it comes to the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Today, while we work with many of the greatest estates in the region, we also look to unearth some overlooked gems from estates that, for whatever reason, may not gain much of the limelight. So far, our track record for highlighting such hidden gems is pretty good. We were early to recognise the value of estates like La Cà Nova in Barbaresco; we have always believed that Renato Corino’s Barolo deserve wider appreciation, and we were quick to spot that Poderi Oddero was going to reclaim its position towards the pinnacle of Barolo production.
This particular offer focuses on another Barolo estate for whom I predict a bright future, namely Agostino Bosco. Whenever I visit winemaker Andrea Bosco in the hilltop village of La Morra, he invites us to taste almost everything in his cellar, and it is such a joyous experience. It is also hugely informative; I have started to understand more and more about the qualities of the wines he produces. I have now tasted 2017s, 2018, 2019s, 2020s, 2021s and 2022s from Andrea’s cellar, and most on multiple occasions. I have yet to be disappointed – of course, one vintage might be preferred over another, but the consistency is impressive.
About Agostino Bosco
Though Andrea is an unassuming character, his wines show fine judgement, and he seems to bring out the best of each vintage without overplaying it. His default approach is to let the vineyards and the vintages express themselves, and he gives surprisingly honest appraisals of his own wines, something that is common to the best winemakers I have met in my career.
Andrea owns a small estate with six hectares of vines, four and a half situated 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 (nay-rarn-e) in Verduno. He has augmented his estate with acquisitions in La Morra, which he blends to make a hugely impressive cuvée, his Barolo Comune di La Morra.
I’d like to remind you that Andrea is not (yet) the beneficiary of lofty scores, particularly since critics do not appear to taste his wines with any regularity, and I therefore can’t bombard you with scores and comments. I can, however, tell you that each time I have tasted in his cellars, it has been at least mid-way through our trip, and his wines have not suffered by comparison to those from other estates tasted along the way. Indeed, specific wines would rank among the more memorable from the trip and, considering we visit approximately 20 estates across Barolo and Barbaresco in a full week of tasting, we are not short of references to benchmark the quality of Andrea’s wines.
It seems that Antonio Galloni is starting to pick up the quality however, as he wrote some interesting comments on Andrea’s 2020s late last year and awarded them possibly his best scores to date. I would urge him to revisit the 2019s, which I believe he must have caught at an awkward stage, and I may differ with his evaluation of these impressive 2020s, but I note a slight change in his general interest level. I have included all his notes, even if I disagree with them. When I read his comments on the ‘Comune di La Morra’ I am a bit surprised, that is not the wine I tasted, nor the wines that two other skilled tasters tried, which led them to buy a parcel from us as the exclusive UK importer. Such is life, such is wine….
Since we first offered the wines of Agostino Bosco, I have received some superb feedback from clients, many of whom have followed Barolo for a number of years. One client contacted me to tell me that, until tasting these wines, he hadn’t believed it was possible to find Barolo of this quality at this kind of price. There is always a benefit to being slightly off the radar – Andrea’s wines do offer exceptional value. Just consider that these two Cru Barolo are offered at £170 and £195 per 6 bottle case respectively, and the entry level ‘La Morra’ at just £140 per 6 bottle case in bond.
A brief word on the 2020 vintage
2020 was troubled by stop-start weather conditions in April, May and June – this included an early budbreak on account of warmer than normal temperatures, only for some vines to be hit by frost. Once we approached July, things settled into a pattern of greater consistency – temperatures warmed up considerably thus accelerating the vine’s development. While temperatures were higher than average, there were no dramatic heat spikes. October marked a cool conclusion to the vintage with some early rains. Some estates had already harvested by this point, while other waited it out. I don’t think the best 2020s are heavily marked by heat, their profile isn’t quite classical, but the sense of balance leans in that direction – in fact, they show uncommon harmony for such young wines, balancing good richness of fruit with freshness.
Some could even be termed supple or forward drinking, though others suggest that they will require greater patience. 2020 is certainly a successful vintage with some exceptional wines. And while 2020 may be termed a vintage of mid-weight Barolo with less tension, that is still a vastly generalised view, and the reality is much more complex. We have found that some of the growers we work with made wines in 2020 that surpass their 2019s with ease. So much relates to decisions taken in the vineyard as well as in the cellars, and producers in Barolo have become incredibly skilled in dealing with warmer than normal conditions.
2020 Barolo, Neirane, Agostino Bosco
£170 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.
The aromas on the 2020 Neirane are captivating – notes of juicy wild strawberry and darker cherry with an attractive floral lift. Beautifully poised, with a touch of youthful austerity on the palate, as you would expect. The palate picks up where the nose left off, with a juicy, freshly crushed cherry/ berry fruit, with complex notes of blood orange, and black cherry. Hints of mint and herb add complexity to the finish, which picks up a touch of spice. It finishes with an almost citrussy freshness and a subtle saline note. Very impressive. (SL). Drink 2025 to 2037.
93 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
Persistent and nuanced, with excellent balance, the 2020 Barolo Neirane is an attractive wine, endowed with understated depth and complexity. Macerated red cherry, spice, rose petal, orange peel and leather develop nicely in the glass. Floral top notes lift the finish. The Neirane has quite a bit to offer. Drink 2025-2035.
2020 Barolo, La Serra, Agostino Bosco
£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 fared with a more traditional approach to winemaking. I wasn’t disappointed in either 2018 or 2019.
La Serra always shows a much darker, brooding fruit and this is immediately in evidence on the nose; all dusky soft skinned fruits, a touch of spice too. The palate is bold, with oodles of dark fruit – blackberry, black cherry with fresh mint and spice. The youthful tannins assert here, but the fruit fleshes out the frame. This is a powerful, rich Barolo, bolder and more balsamic than the Neirane, yet the tannins are finely expressed and enveloped by layers of fruit. There is no sense of heaviness here despite the richness. In the context of the vintage, this Serra will need a little more patience, but looks set to reward the wait handsomely. (SL). Drink 2026-2040.
93 + points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
The 2020 Barolo La Serra is a potent, structured wine, yet all the elements are nicely put together. Swaths of tannin wrap around a core of dark fruit as this strapping Barolo gradually opens in the glass. Leather, blood, game, incense and licorice add layers of complexity. The 2020 has potential. Even so, I imagine it will always be a bit beastly in its tannic heft. Drink 2025-2037.
2020 Barolo, Comune di La Morra, Agostino Bosco
£140 per 6 bottle case in bond
From one half-hectare parcel in the commune of La Morra, which is renowned for a certain softness to the tannins. The vineyard, which was planted in 1995, is based on blue marl and limestone and is situated at 420 metres in altitude. This blend sports an eye-catching label featuring a drawing by Andrea’s daughter!
Scented with notes of blue/ black fruit, juicy red fruits too and a floral overlay. The palate is open and already attractive with a fine supple core of fruit. The 2020 shows plenty of energy for a wine of this level, bright and tangy, with notes of tobacco leaf coming through to the finish. Again, the tannins are well expressed, providing ample structure to an attractive, supple introduction to the Bosco range. The juiciness on show is a huge part of the wines' appeal. Very good for its level. (SL). Drink 2025-2032.
87 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
The 2020 Barolo del Comune di La Morra opens with lovely aromatics that are quite promising, then hard tannins take over the mid-palate and finish. Hints of dark cherry, leather, cedar and tobacco struggle to emerge. I would prefer to drink this over the near term. Drink 2024-2028.
A good number of my clients are constantly asking me where they can find the best bang for their buck, and Barolo and Barbaresco undoubtedly feature in my answer. If I am quizzed further, the wines of Agostino Bosco join a shortlist of top tips as they have simply so much to offer the canny drinker!
Please let us know of your interest.