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Barolo and Piedmont are hot property in 2020

An exceptional 2016 vintage for Nebbiolo has only increased buyers' focus on the heartlands of Barolo and Barbaresco.

Growing numbers of savvy collectors recognise the value, diversity and investment potential to be found in the land of Barolo and Barbaresco, says a new introductory guide to Piedmont Nebbiolo on the fine wine market, available to Decanter Premium subscribers exclusively via the Decanter app.

As several readers will be aware, the exceptional Nebbiolo 2016 wines constitute the third very good-to-great vintage in four years.

‘Quality has gone up steadily for a long time now,’ said Greg St. Clair, Italian wine buyer at US merchant K&L. ‘In reality, since 1995, there’s only been one bad vintage – 2002.’

Higher demand

New collectors have been drawn to Piedmont Nebbiolo, which has invited comparisons with the complexity and nuance offered by Pinot Noir in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or.

‘We’re certainly seeing new people coming into it, who want to understand the best producers and vintages,’ said New York-based Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of wine at Sotheby’s.

Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at UK merchant Corney & Barrow, said in April, ‘We increasingly find that Piedmont is something people want to do. The wines are better made than they’ve ever been.’

While prices for several renowned wines have spiked, many analysts and merchants point out that Piedmont still has a wealth of wallet-friendly options.

Shaun Bishop, CEO of US wine merchant JJ Buckley, told Decanter in April, ‘As a whole, Italian wines stand out for their high quality and low prices – in fact, probably the best values in the world.’

He said that demand for Piedmont wines, and Italian wines in general, was at an all-time high.

‘Names that are selling well include Vietti, Vajra, Parusso, Cogno, Produttori del Barbaresco, La Spinetta and Pio Cesare.’

Longer-term view

US import tariffs on many Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, introduced in October 2019, have only made Italy more attractive to American buyers.

However, UK merchant BI Fine & Wine Spirits said strong demand for Tuscany and Piedmont pre-dated tariffs.

Looking ahead, it cannot be ignored that the coronavirus crisis in 2020 has shifted priorities for wineries, merchants and buyers alike, and also created a significant amount of uncertainty for the global economy.

However, Piedmont and Tuscany were ‘proving popular amongst wine lovers who are accustomed to paying far more for their French equivalents’, wrote Miles Davis, head of professional portfolio management at the Wine Owners trading exchange, in his May 2020 market report.

Liv-ex said that Italy accounted for 22% of trades by value on its platform in April 2020, a record for any month.

Earlier this year, analyst group Wine Lister reported that its member merchants had tipped Piedmont to become a staple of collectors’ cellars in the coming years.

This article is based on an edited excerpt from Decanter Premium’s introductory guide for collectors, ‘The rise of Piedmont’, but includes additional commentary.

Premium members: Get the full report exclusively via the Decanter Premium app.

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See also: 

New collector’s guide: Hunting value in Piedmont wine

Barolo 2016: Top wines and vintage report

Decanter’s Piedmont vintage guide

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