Barolo 2015: Vintage Report

This is a vintage of absolute excellence right away, with great prospects over time for aging – Roberto Voerzio

2015 is a thrilling vintage of rich yet vibrant wines – Giuseppe Vajra

“In terms of vinosity and richness it is similar to 2009, while for the complexity and intensity of the aromas it is more similar to 2010 – Roberto Voerzio

2015 is distinct for its very refined tannins with great phenolic ripeness – Giovanni Anjeli (Massolino)

Charming tannins, more full body than 2014 and 2013 with sweeter tannins. Similar to 2004/ 2007 – Franco Conterno (Aldo Conterno)

It has the smile of the sun but it is a vintage that is fast on its feet – full of energy and tension Giuseppe Vajra

Barolo 2015s are distinct for their exquisite bouquet that are drinking very well in their youth but have good acidity, full body and great balance to age well. Similar to 2010. – Andrea Corino

The water reserve has allowed the plants, even in hot weeks, to never go into stress and the regularity of rainfall in August and September have led to a certainly exceptional year. – Ferruccio Grimaldi (Giacomo Grimaldi)

“2015 is a classic Nebbiolo vintage characterised by red fruit, elegance and finesse” – Pio Boffa (Pio Cesare)

 

F+R Vintage Overview

There is an air of excitement surrounding the upcoming Barolo 2015 releases. After a difficult vintage in 2014 that, where handled well, produced some bewitching wines (albeit more delicate and lighter than is usual for the region), 2015 is back to the more concentrated, full-bodied wines we have come to expect from top vintages of Barolo.

There is broad agreement that 2015 is defined by its accessibility – with ripe, charming tannins and great phenolic ripeness brought about by a long ripening season in fair conditions. Although July was hot, it is thought that the water reserves following the previous wet summers of 2014 and, to a lesser extent, 2013 prevented the vines from being under any hydric stress, allowing the grapes to reach full phenolic ripeness.

Vibrant complex bouquets are also a feature of the 2015s and Nebbiolo really is capable of some of the most beguiling aromas of any varietal. The accessibility of the tannins means the 2015s can be enjoyed in relative youth, but the tension, energy and balance (particular from vineyards at higher altitudes) allow for wines with good ageing potential too.

 

From the Winemakers

Roberto Voerzio

“For climatic conditions it was definitely positive, apart from a slight hailstorm in early August, which caused a further decrease in our already low yields, especially in the part of Rocche dell’Annunziata, Torriglione, Brunate, Cerequio (not in La Serra and Fossati) causing a loss of production of about 10-12,000 bottles of Barolo. Summer and autumn have been dry with excellent temperatures. Due to its organoleptic characteristics it is difficult to find a vintage to compare with 2015, as vinosity and richness can be approached in 2009, while for the complexity and intensity of the aromas it is more similar to 2010. The distinctive features of our Barolo, to be considered excellent, are: in taste, great richness and extreme silkiness and roundness.

In the aromas, depending on the Cru, floral notes of violet and dried rose are recalled (Rocche dell’Annunziata); there are more fruity notes in the other Crus, with particular hints of wild berries, small fruits and citrus notes, particularly in Fossati and Cerequio.

This is a vintage of absolute excellence right away, with great prospects over time for aging. The same goes for the Barbera Pozzo dell’Annunziata 2015.”

Giuseppe Vajra

“2015 is a thrilling vintage of rich yet vibrant wines. Winter was very snowy, and mild temperatures since the month of February lead to an early bud break. By flowering, which took place in the middle of May, the season was about 10 days ahead of norm. More rain fell between end of May and early June. This, coupled with the abundant water reserves of the winter and the previous season, were a great help for the vines to overcome a very hot month of July. 2015 was a kind vintage with very healthy fruit, and the loss of production is mainly due to sporadic, very brutal hailstorms (starting May 8th), and to the summer heat. Harvest was slightly anticipated and fruit quality great across the board, from the white varietals to Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo.

Warm vintages become a threat when they are matched to a water shortage. This was not the case in 2015, which on the contrary provided a healthy ripening without hydric shortage.”

Talking with Giuseppe on his recent visit to London, it is clear he loves the 2015 vintage for their amazing flavours and intensity. It is a vintage that one has to detach from the theory because it was a warm to hot vintage, yet the wines have so much tension. Giuseppe believes this comes from the water reservoirs following two wet vintages which helped offset the warm weather in 2015. “It has the smile of the sun but it is a vintage that is fast on it feet – full of energy and tension.”

Giuseppe referenced a quote from Alexis Carrel (Medicine Nobel Prize): “A lot or reasoning and little observation lead to mistake. A lot of observation and little reasoning lead to truth. In my poor translation. What I mean is that we are led to believe that a warm/hot vintage “must” result in overripe wines with little harmony or balance. This is the “theory” or the “reasoning”. The “truth” or “reality” or “observation” about 2015 is in fact different: that a ripe vintage led to harmonious, balanced and vibrant wines.”

Giovanni Angeli (Massolino)

For Giovanni the 2015 vintage is very approachable. The growing season was warm and dry. The palate of the wines in 2015 are distinct for their very refined tannins with great phenolic ripeness. He described it as “a very drinkable vintage” – very good but not exceptional. Similar to 2010 and 2011, but these had more structured tannins. Much drier than the two previous vintages of 2013 and 2014 and, although 2013 had power, the tannins were not as soft or as ripe as 2015 and will therefore need more time to soften. In comparison, 2015 will be drinking much earlier. For Giovanni, it is the future 2016 vintage that is perhaps the greatest of his career.

Franco Conterno (Aldo Conterno)

Franco loves the charming tannins of 2015 and the full body to the wines with sweet tannins. For him, 2015 is reminiscent of 2004 and 2007. A high level of selection in the vineyard meant that there were no problems bringing in high quality fruit. Full body means high alcohol, in some cases pushing 15-15.5% ABV. The ripeness of the tannins make the vintage very accessible; he describes “A palate that will be appreciated by drinkers who sometimes struggle with the tannins of Barolo”. This suggests 2015 could be a great introduction to the wines of Barolo.

Andrea Corino

Andrea’s Barolo 2015s are distinct for their exquisite bouquet. They are drinking very well in their youth but have good acidity, full body and great balance to age well. He compares them to his 2010s. A top quality vintage.

Pio Boffa (Pio Cesare)

For Pio, as well as the characteristic red fruit, elegance and finesse that mark the 2015s out as a uniquely classic Nebbiolo vintage, the wines are defined by their tannins. He describes it as a warm, even hot vintage, but one that did not result in “fruit bomb” wines. Any fears of overripening and high alcohol levels turned out to be unfounded at Pio Cesare during fermentation. For him, the vineyards on the south facing slopes were blessed with a tannic quality that will ensure great longevity in the wines. He is about to release the first vintage of the estate’s newest single vineyard addition – the 2015 Barolo Mosconi. Here the supple, silky tannins and the elegant, crunchy red fruit are indeed exemplary of the classic style he describes.