The 2016 vintage in Barolo was one of the best of the last 20 years or more. The weather was perfect throughout the growing season with no problem weather events such as frost, hail or heat waves. Bruna Giacosa of Bruno Giacosa says this of the vintage, “These wines are really open and beautiful . . . You can drink them already. The 2015 was really great because it had so much fruit but elegance. It was also more open to drink. The 2016 is different. The wines are more structured. It has more life ahead of it. 2016 was just right because the weather was perfect. Everything came at the same time and at the right time.” And Pio Boffa of Pio Cesare states, “We are extremely happy with the results of our 2016s . . . Piedmont has a lot to offer in excellent wine at the moment.”* Antonio Galloni of Vinous calls the vintage “epic”. PJ Wine has about ten Barolos from the 2016 vintage and we are going to focus today on five producers across the price range.
Silvio Grasso is a value producer that overperforms considering cost. The Grasso family has been making wine since 1927. They work organically and use minimal sulfites. La Spinetta’s founding is relatively recent, 1977, yet most of their vines are very old, over 35yrs. They are also organic with most of their vineyards farmed biodynamically. Pio Cesare goes back to the 19th century and the estate is known for its elegant style. They produce five single vineyard wines but their ‘basic’ Barolo is always a standout. Damilano, which also goes back to the 19th century, owns plots in some of the most historic sites in Barolo. The Cannubi Cru is perhaps the most prestigious and produces traditional style wines that are intense, but elegant. Finally, in a region full of world-class producers, Giacosa has long been a model of excellence, a first among equals. In other appellations or with any varietal – Barbaresco, Nebbiolo Langhe, Barbera, Dolcetto – Giacosa’s bottlings are always among the best. The Falletto is their flagship estate wine.
Barolos from 2016 are going to become hard to find. Here is an opportunity to stock up on superb bottles that match your budget, for drinking now or for long-term aging.
Silvio Grasso Barolo 2016
Sale Price: $31.97
James Suckling, 94pts. – “This is already approachable with lovely ripe-strawberry, chocolate and walnut character. It’s full and layered with chewy, polished tannins and a flavorful finish. Better after 2022.”
La Spinetta Garretti Barolo 2016
Sale Price: 54.97
Wine Advocate, 94pts. – “This entry-level Barolo is made with fruit from the younger vines from the Garretti cru in Grinzane Cavour, in the comune where La Spinetta has its ultra modern winery. The 2016 Barolo Vigneto Garretti offers a generous and accessible personality that makes this wine optimal for near or medium-term drinking. The bouquet is layered and rich with dark fruit, licorice, tar and toasted aniseed. The tannins are nicely managed in this vintage, showing both power and elegance.”
Pio Cesare Barolo 2016
Sale Price: $74.97
Wine Advocate, 95pts. – “Traditionalists happily fall back to this wine from Pio Cesare. This historic winery, now in its fifth generation and located within the city limits of Alba, takes care to shape a classic interpretation without too many extra bells or whistles. The fact that Pio Cesare now has the flashier Barolo Ornato and the newly created Barolo Mosconi, only gives more importance to this wine. The Pio Cesare 2016 Barolo offers deep, dark fruit with a mingling of spice, smoke, tar and smoke. This wine represents a blend of fruit from five comuni, or villages: Cascina Ornato, La Serra and Briccolina in Serralunga d'Alba; Gustava and Garretti in Grinzane Cavour; Roncaglie in La Morra; Ravera in Novello; and starting with the 2015 vintage, Mosconi in Monforte d’Alba.”
Damilano Cannubi Barolo 2016
Sale Price: $78.97
Wine Advocate, 97pts. – “The Damilano 2016 Barolo Cannubi shows depth and a profound nature. This is the DNA of the Cannubi cru, maybe the most celebrated in the appellation with mildly compact, well-draining sandy soils (actually, a mix of 45% sand, 35% silt and 20% clay, to be precise). These conditions contribute to the dark concentration and the firm textural support found here. These assets are particularly apparent in this classic vintage. Dark fruit and dried cherry cede to earthy truffle and licorice. Of these various single-vineyard expressions, the tight tannins on this Cannubi definitely suggest a long drinking window.”
Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo 2016
Sale Price: $179.97
James Suckling, 97pts. – “This is a really dense red with intensity and beauty, showing dried fruit, such as strawberries, as well as chocolate, tar, hazelnuts and meat. Really complex and rich. Opulent, yet tense with dusty tannins. Extremely long. Great finish. Hard not to drink now, but will age incredibly well.”
*quotes are from jamessuckling.com