Monday, May 24, 2010

2006 Barolo - Initial Impressions

Serralunga Vineyards with snow-covered Alps in the background
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Just back from tasting more than 180 bottlings of the soon-to-be-released 2006 Barolo. Here are a few initial thoughts.

The wines from 2006 are big, make no mistake about it. If you are a relative newcomer to Barolo, this may not be the vintage for you, unless you have a lot of patience. These are wines that demand time and are in some cases, rather old-fashioned, as they are not approachable now, but rather are tightly woven and unyielding. If you prefer prettier, more forward wines, wait another year for the release of the 2007 Barolos.

The wines are also inconsistent. While I tasted some very nice wines (and a few excellent examples) from the communes of La Morra and Barolo, the wines from these zones were not that impressive. Perhaps it was warm weather that yielded wines of big structure that did it, as the wines from La Morra and Barolo tend to be more feminine than other bottlings. Whatever the reason, many of these wines are a little clumsy - though admittedly, we are dealing with very young wines.

The vintage belonged to the wines from Castiglione Falletto, Monforte d'Alba and of course, Serralunga d'Alba. I say of course, as the Serralunga Barolos are always the bottlngs that need the most time, given both their tannic structure (thanks to the oldest soils in the zone) and their deep concentration. The best Barolos from 2006, such as those from Cordero di Montezemolo "Enrico VI" (Castiglione Falletto), Elio Grasso "Gavarini Chinera" and "Ginestra Casa Maté" (both Monforte d'Alba) and Cascina Cucco "Cerrati Vigna Cucco", Ettore Germano "Prapo" and Azelia "San Rocco" (all from Serralunga) have the stuffing to cellar well for 20-plus years.

Here is a brief list of my favorite 2006 Barolos, tasted last week at the Nebbiolo Prima tastings in Alba and at visits to producers before and during the days of the event:

Serralunga d'Alba
Giovanni Rosso "Cerretta"
Ettore Germano "Prapo"
Ceretto "Prapo"
Cascina Cucco "Cerrati Vigna Cucco"
Cascina Cucco "Cerrati"
Luigi Pira "Marenco"
Fontanafredda "La Rosa"
Azelia "San Rocco"
Ascheri "Sorano"
Ascheri "Sorano Coste & Bricco"
Luigi Baudana "Baudana"
Massolino "Margheria"

Monforte d'Alba
Elio Grasso "Gavarini Chinera"
Elio Grasso "Ginestra Casa Maté"
Simone Scaletta "Chirlet"
Pio Cesare "Ornato"
Costa di Bussia "Tenuta Arnulfo"
Giacomo Fenocchio "Bussia"
Aldo Conterno "Colonello"
Franco Conterno "Bussia Munie"

Castiglione Falletto
Cavallotto "Bricco Boschis"
Vietti "Rocche"
Cordero di Montezemolo "Enrico VI"
Oddero "Rocche di Castiglione"
Ceretto "Bricco Rocche"

La Morra
Renato Ratti "Rocche"
Renato Ratti "Conca"
Rocche Costamagna "Rocche dell'Annunziata - Bricco Francesco"
Tenuta L'Illuminata "Tebavio"
Gianni Voerzio "La Serra"
Vietti "Brunate"
Michele Chiarlo "Cerequio"

Francesco Rinaldi "Cannubbio"
Angelo Germano "Vigna Rue"
Vajra "Bricco delle Viole"
Chiara Pira "Cannubi"

Wines from other communes (including blends from two or more communes)
Bartolo Mascarello
Francesco Rinaldi "Brunate" (La Morra, Barolo)
Elvio Cogno "Ravera" (Novello)
Claudio Alario "Riva" (Verduno)
Burlotto "Acclivi" (Verduno)

For those of you wondering why I have listed more wines from La Morra than Castiglione Falletto after writing that the latter commune was more consistent, the reason is the game of numbers. La Morra is the largest commune for production of Barolo, with approximately one-third of the total vineyards for Barolo production; Castiglione Falletto is much smaller. So while I tasted many more examples from La Morra than Castiglione Falletto, I recommended a higher percentage of wines from the latter commune.

A few final words: The wines at the Nebbiolo Prima event are tasted blind, so there are always surprises, good and bad. My biggest surprise? The Simone Scaletta wine- to be honest, I'd never even heard of this estate, so bravo to them for producing such a fine 2006 Barolo.

No surprise though for many estates whose wines I loved again. There were many, but a special salute to Cascina Cucco and Francesco Rinaldi. The former is one of the finest estates in a commune (Serralunga) filled with great estates, while the latter quite often gets confused for the wines of Beppe Rinaldi, a great Barolo estate. However, the wines from Francesco Rinaldi are classics almost every year!

Finally, if you want to exprience Serralunga Barolo without having to wait ten years, I strongly recommend the Giovanni Rosso "Cerretta" and the two offerings from the "Sorano" vineyard produced by Ascheri. While these wines will age 15-25 years, these three bottlings are more approachable and charming in their youth than most bottlings from Serralunga. The dyed-in-the wool devotées of the Serralunga style may prefer a more tannic wine, but I fell in love with these wines, especially the Rosso bottling, which is as floral and as charming a Serralunga Barolo as you will find! Complimenti, Davide!


  1. Thanks Tom, for the report. great reading

  2. Alfonso:

    Thanks for the comment- glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. Great summary! I'm planning on buying some 06 Barolo in the new year, and this will definitely help

  4. Did you taste any of Altare's 06? Normally, his Brunate is on par with Vietti's?

  5. There were no Elio Altare wines in this series of tastings, so I can't compare. I tend to not like Altare's style, as it is too modern. The Rocche for Vietti is generally one of my favorites from the vintage.