1978 was the one vintage that really put Barolo on the map. Since then there have been enormous changes in both vineyard and cellar, as well as global warming. So has this changed the intrinsic character of the wines? Tom Maresca reports...
Modern Barolos for the cellar
There is a great consensus about the cellar-worthy vintages of this still-young century: 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008 have all been described as yielding classic wines with the structure and quality to deserve long ageing. Of the possibly still-available wines made before the turn of the century, 1996 and 1998 are the vintages most frequently cited as definitely cellarable
Rating 4.5/5 stars
This was recognised from its first release as an exemplary vintage. It is already moving nicely along its evolutionary journey, and in fact may be soon entering a dumb phase.
Rating 4.5 stars
A vintage that differs from the others of this group in having the most open fruitiness. Right from the start, 2004 offered itself quite readily – so much so that some tasters think that it may never endure a dumb phase at all. That’s probably optimistic.
Rating 5 stars
This appears to be the most reticent vintage of this group, in the austere, impressive style of old-fashioned Barolo. But it unquestionably has all the elements that give Barolo such a long life.
Rating 4 stars
Not as austere as 2006 and probably not as profound: a good, sound vintage, above average in quality but – at least at this early stage of its development – seemingly the least good of these five.
Rating 5 stars
This is still in barrel and won’t be released until spring 2014 at the earliest (many producers will wait beyond that), but all the leading indicators point to an extraordinary vintage with potential for very long life and quality perhaps higher than any of the wines above. It’s early days to be making such predictions with any certainty, but 2010 is certainly a vintage to keep your eye on.