Following on from the recently re-published Barolo 2010 panel tasting, we have delved deeper into our archive to bring Premium subscribers the Barolo 2009 results - lauded by our experts as a vintage that confirms Barolo's greatness. See the full report with all 140 tasting notes and scores below.
Published in the November 2013 issue of Decanter magazine and now available online and in full, exclusively for Premium subscribers.
140 Barolo 2009 wines tasted, with nine rated Outstanding
‘Quite an achievement when you consider the vintage conditions,’ agreed our panel of Paolo Basso, Ian D’Agata and Michael Garner
Barolo 2009 vintage summary:
Rating by Stephen Brook in 2018
Drink or Keep
A hot year, delivering lush succulent wines, but with moderate acidity. Can already be enjoyed for their abundant fruitiness.
This was a tasting that confirmed Barolo’s general greatness. Encouragingly, we saw top performances from a mix of more established and younger producers, reports Ian D’Agata in Decanter’s November 2013 issue…
An admirable performance, everyone agreed. I was surprised by just how luscious and downright enjoyable almost all the wines were – and, though they might not be the most ageworthy Barolos of the past few decades, the better wines will improve over the next 10 years and have enough acid and tannic spine to age for another 20.
Quick link See all 140 wines from this panel tasting
A number of very interesting observations arise. First, that great Barolos were…
Barolo is one of the world’s best wines and one of its most beautiful wine tourism destinations. The bucolic countryside located near the charming town of Alba in Piedmont, Italy, is blessed with a truly noble grape, Nebbiolo, which delivers full-bodied wines exuding unforgettable aromas of sour red cherries and red roses, with noteworthy ageing potential.
Barolo demonstrates extreme site-specificity, with hundreds of small, family-owned estates, and cuisine that rivals the best of Italy’s many regions. It’s not surprising that many believe Piedmont bears more than a passing resemblance to Burgundy.
Barolo wines have never been better, with a string of strong vintages in the first decade of the 21st century. The producers are, for the most part, a united bunch, greatly helped by institutions such as the Enoteca Regionale del Barolo and the local consorzio, both of which help promote the wine and the area.
Witness the Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive (delimiting the individual vineyards), a rarity in Italy. Though the creation of the MGAs has attracted some criticism (some are simply too large), everyone in Barolo can, largely, be happy with the result. The classification is not a quality scale of the single vineyards, but rather characterises the area in which a specific Barolo wine is made – a good idea given the geological variation of the production zone.
Styles and trends
The wines can be remarkably different: the extremes are represented by the communes of La Morra and Barolo, which produce earlier maturing, perfumed, less tannic wines, while wines from Serralunga d’Alba and Monforte d’Alba are bigger, tougher and slower developing.
The wines of Castiglione Falletto fall somewhere in between in style, and Barolos from Verduno, Roddi and Novello are different still.
Current trends include an increasing number of small-production wineries as more enthusiasts try their hand at making Barolo; wines being aged in bigger oak casks or tonneaux (500-litre barrels) rather than barriques (225 litres); and a marked shift towards organic growing.
Except for some limited-quantity collector items, prices are reasonable. An unfortunate development would be further enlargement of the Barolo production zone: being very site-sensitive, Nebbiolo can give truly world-class, unique wines only in specific areas. There is already a chasm between wines made from the best sites of Monforte or Barolo and those made in Cherasco or Roddi.
The outstanding 2009 vintage offers Barolos with plenty of early appeal, fun to taste even when young, though the best will age 30 years or more.
The vintage qualifies as a warm-weather one, similar to 2007 – the wines have greater flesh than 2005 (but less perfume) and are less tannic than 2006. A minority are marred by vegetal notes and rough, unripe tannins, either because of the brief but extreme summer heat causing metabolic blockage in younger vines and those in sandier soil, or over-extraction.
However, there are great wines to be had from virtually every Barolo sub-zone.
-Updated in 2018-
Top Barolo 2009 from the panel tasting: