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Barolo’s en primeur set to grow

After raising €660,000 for 17 charitable causes in 2021, the second edition of Barolo en primeur aims to improve on this impressive figure and set the foundations for a French-style en primeur campaign in the future.

On 28 October 2022, the second edition of Barolo en primeur will take place. A collaboration between the Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo Foundation, CRC Donare Foundation, and the Consorzio di tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani, it’s an auction of unique Barolo wines with social responsibility at it’s heart, aiding local not-for-profit organisations and charities, as well as those further afield.

As with last year’s auction, 14 barriques will be auctioned by Christie’s simultaneously in Grinzane Cavour and New York City. Each barrique has a starting bid of €30,000 and will yield 300 bottles of Barolo DOCG 2021 wine once mandatory ageing has been completed in 2025. The winning bidder can choose for the funds to go to a charity or non-profit of their choosing, or to the suggested beneficiary of each lot (yet to be announced).

One final barrique will be auctioned on 13 November during the International Alba White Truffle Auction held at the castle of Grinzane Cavour, and simultaneously auctioned in Hong Kong. Proceeds for this final barrique will go to Mother’s Choice, an international charity helping orphaned children and young women in need.


The castle at Grinzane Cavour, with part of the Vigna Gustava in the foreground. Credit: Consorzio di tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani

New for the second edition of Barolo en primeur is the introduction of 10 ‘municipal lots’ totalling 1,200 bottles of Barolo, donated by more than 70 producers from Barolo and Barbaresco. Proceeds will be donated to the Alba School of Oenology. ‘We hope to get impressive results,’ said Matteo Ascheri, president of the Consorzio di tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani.

These 10 lots range from a starting bid of €2,000 for 36 assorted bottles and six jeroboams from producers of Barbaresco in Treiso and Alba, to a starting bid of €18,000 for 192 bottles, 37 magnums and seven jeroboams from producers in the village of Barolo.

‘We think that selling en primeur is an essential passage for our appellations,’ added Ascheri, strongly hinting that the aim is to embark on a full-blown en primeur campaign potentially in auction format further down the road. ‘Selling en primeur is something that as a consortium we would like to work on,’ he said. ‘We are 160 years late if we compare to France. The objective is to invest in the auction.’

Ezio Raviola, president of the Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo Foundation, stated during a press conference on 22 September: ‘We didn’t want to have this auction just for the foundation, we wanted to create a bond with the region, to promote something as extraordinary as Barolo, so this year we have over 70 producers donating wine for the auction… an extremely important starting point, we are convinced this auction will grow more and more.’

He added: ‘We are the only fondazione to own a vineyard,’ referring to the Vigna Gustava vineyard which the CRC Foundation purchased in 2019, surrounding the Castle of Grinzane Cavour. The Nebbiolo grown in the Vigna Gustava is nurtured by the students of the Alba School of Oenology, while its vinification and maturation is overseen by famed enologist, Donato Lanati.

The label for the Barolo en primeur bottles will be designed by artist, Michelangelo Pistoletto.

The barriques: Top picks

The first three barriques are sourced from parcels of older vines over 50 years old in the vineyard. The remaining barriques are various micro-plots showcasing the different exposures and soils of Vigna Gustava.

A star pick for me is barrique #2. Sweet, creamy red fruits and a herbal, balsamic quality emerge on a tight and tannic yet bright palate. Sweet and tangy raspberry and pomegranate mingle with cocoa and lead to a gorgeously juicy finish.

Barrique #8 shows more of an earthy black cherry character but still with balsamic freshness, and a hint of cocoa. Sweet and spicy red and black hedgerow berries are joined in the mouth by an invigorating menthol finish. My tasting note ends, ‘yum!’.

Barrique #12 is another earthy expression, with herbal and balsamic lift. Pure, bright and tangy yet sweet raspberry, pomegranate and wild strawberry dominate the palate, accompanied by some graphite and earth, and supported by fine tannins. There’s great balance here.

Barrique #15 showcases fragrant and creamy red fruits on a tight, grippy and woody palate. Sweet and succulent but focused, its long, fresh finish carries stony and floral notes.

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