The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Taking Stock of the 2010 Barolos–Literally

Posted on | March 12, 2015 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

The hills of Barolo

The hills of Barolo

There is always chatter about the Killer B’s: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Bolgheri, Bordeaux and Burgundy and which of these regions makes the greatest reds wines. I have a simple answer, they all do—six stellar regions often producing the world’s greatest wines (and this in no way to short thrift the great red wines being produced in the US, Spain, Portugal, Australia, or South America). If auction prices are the barometer to measure greatness, then Burgundy and Bordeaux hold most of the top spots. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

When I started in the auction business at the beginning of 2011, Bordeaux was hot and prices were going through the roof. Within the first six months of 2011, there was a serious decline in Bordeaux, so the tail winds picked up in Burgundy. However, in the last few years there hasn’t enough been enough juice to satisfy the increasing global demands at the auction block. Curious journalists frequently ask us in the auction business what is going to be the next big thing after (or in addition to) Bordeaux and Burgundy. My prediction at the beginning of 2012 was definitive in that it would be Italy, and initially Barolo would lead the charge.

There has never been a better moment than now for the wines of Barolo. Twenty-five years ago, the wine drinking public struggled to understand the greatness of Barolo. Unlike other great reds, Barolos have always been wines that demand great patience. They can sometimes be gnarly, tight and tannic, particularly in their youth. The word “youth” is a relative term when we speak of Barolo because this wine takes awhile to enter the market place because of the stringent aging requirements. For example, the 2010s are just now being offered for sale.

Barolo is sometimes misunderstood by novice drinkers and collectors because it’s not necessarily the beverage of choice for instant gratification. However, young Barolo can indicate its potential and signal certain characteristics that let you know it’s bound for glory. Barolo is a wine of patience but the rewards are numerous and serious. There also isn’t as much. The supply is quite small for Barolo; it’s clearly on the Burgundy scale of production. The world has woken up to this sleeping giant called Barolo and the time is now to take stock—and I mean that quite literally.

To put it simply: the 2010 Barolo vintage is absolutely magnificent. The wine pundits are doing flips over this vintage; for example, Antonio Galloni in Vinous calls it “a modern-day classic,” and asks, “Is this a new paradigm for Barolo?” He is not alone. One thing we all agree in the press and trade is with very small quantities of Burgundy and nature’s harsh treatment in some of Bordeaux’s recent vintages, Barolo offers a bright spot with the release of the 2010’s—and immediate past vintages. As amazing as the 2010 Barolos are, I must warn you not turn your attention away from the ‘06s, ‘07s, 08’s and ’09 Barolos.

You can join author Robin Kelley O’Connor at one of our upcoming wine tasting events in the heart of Union Square, NYC; you might even enjoy some Barolo.


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