Nebbiolo is a finicky, hard-to-grow grape that produces stunningly complex and long-lasting wines. Its heartland lies in the Langhe hills of Piedmont around the small town of Barolo. With its tendency for early flowering and late harvest the 100% Nebbiolo wines of Barolo are subject to a distinct vintage effect. Thankfully for wine lovers everywhere the Barolo 2010 vintage was superb and the wines are outstanding.
In recent years, Barolo has been undergoing a bit of a revolution and an internal war. Modern winemaking techniques, primarily the use of small new oak wooden barrels, have drastically changed Barolo wines. No longer do all of these great wines require ten years of bottle aging for sharp tannins to begin to be approachable. Yet the vanguards of tradition have clung to the use of botte, or large oak casks. Thankfully, experimentation and time have led to a happy medium between the two, and there are a range of Barolo wines available, some which require aging and some which are approachable at an earlier stage. This development has been supplemented by better farming techniques and global warming which have provided riper fruit with softer tannins.
Yet the 2010 vintage remained a classic representation of Barolo and the ideal viticultural conditions. A long and lingering winter, with abundant snow that lingered until March, provided the necessary ground water for an early bud break. The primarily cool and wet summer, with the exception of a warm July, provided for the slow development of the small and concentrated berries. A late burst of warm weather in early September, a weather pattern that lingered until the end of October, provided the necessary warmth and sunlight for veraison and phenolic ripeness. But despite the relative warmth the traditional Langhe fog developed in the evenings, for a large diurnal range that kept the maturation slow and even. For the producers that were brave enough to wait out an end of October harvest, they were rewarded with one of the finest vintages in recent memory.
Most producers used botte and the vast majority of the wines have the capacity to age for 40 to 50 years, if not longer. These wines have the rich dried floral quality of the best Nebbiolos, a characteristic that was also found in the exceptional 2004 vintage. The power, depth and complexity of the ripe wines of 2006. And the characteristic firm structure, well balanced between acidity and tannin, characteristic of the 2008 vintage.
The Wines of the Barolo 2010 Vintage
- Paolo Scavino: Barolo 2010
- Cascina Fontana: Barolo 2010
- Paolo Scavion: Cannubi 2010
- Guiseppe Mascarello e Figlio: Monprivato 2010