Is The Guard Changinging With 2010 Barolo?

AG’s top dozen include: 3 Vietti, 2 Sandrone, and 2 Elio Grasso. Could the hierarchy be beginning to shift?

Think Vietti ‘Rocche’ and Sandrone ‘CB’ are squarely in the present hierarchy

I agree. Nothing new about Vietti or Sandrone. And when I tasted Grasso at the B&J tasting, I was shocked at how good they were.

Maybe a little something new: Sandrone’s Le Vigne and Vietti’s Ravera were his only 2 100 point wines.

So he likes moderate (not extreme) amounts of barrique?

Is this supposed to be riserva? Or is there a new wine from vietti?

I’ve been surprised and very impressed with the Grasso wines the last couple of times I’ve tasted them as well…

They made it in 99 and 2000 as single vineyard, and after that it went into the Castiglione bottling (their “straight” barolo)

I’m pretty familiar with viette but never heard of this before, very cool.

I already consider all three of these wineries to be at the top of the Piedmont hierarchy. Of the three, I like Grasso the best. Just a wonderful producer who doesn’t get the attention that he deserves. Vietti has made some blockbuster wines over the last few vintages that will age forever. Sandrone is my least favorite of the three due to what at times is a slight overuse of the new wood – however, I must admit that over time the oak seems to integrate very well.

This makes it easy to understand why the Castiglione is such a consistently strong wine.

The guard evolves, it does not change, in the Piemonte. A little perspective: Sandrone’s Le Vigne is a blended wine, and it has rarely equalled his Cannubi Boschis, although it has usually been close in quality. That says nothing about the 2010 edition of the Le Vigne, but I suggest only that one Galloni 100 on that wine cannot even rise to blip on the Barolo radar. His scores on the Le Vigne have been outliers high in recent vintages. Point two: 2006 was the first vintage that anyone thought that E. Grasso wines were anything other than good, solidly made wines, although Antonio went high on the 1989s and 1990s retrospectively. Grasso’s son emerging seems to be the story there. That address simply does not have the track record to be said to be a fixture in the Piemonte firmament. That said, I did buy some of the recent vintages to put away, and Grasso would certainly be one for the younger collectors to keep an eye on. The Vietti story is almost identical to the E. Grasso story, quality-wise. A few highly-regarded recent wines, a few highly-regarded older wines from great vintages, a solid record for a long time. However, Grasso and Vietti are not yet in the top tier, nor leading the way. It seems that the changing could be, as John Morris suggests, in Galloni’s preferences. He has always been open to both traditional and modern Nebbiolo, but in the past, he has dramatically favored the best traditional wines, and those wines are more entrenched at the top than ever, save the unfortunate situation in the House of Giacosa. In his new situation, it is probably in Antonio’s best interests to cheerlead for a wide range of wines. Lastly, there is a big gaping hole in 2010, the absence of Giacosa wines. Thus, were I a buyer and inclined to factor in reviewer opinion, I would be looking for a cross-section of reviews rather than reading much into Galloni’s top dozen. Neither he nor any other reviewer moves the Queen Mary that is Piemonte Nebbiolo, and there are a lot of opinions out there these days, given the rising popularity…

As Bill points out, there are no Giacosa wines in this report for reasons I suspect only Bruno knows. That and the fact that the other highly rated wines are from Bartolo Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno, Elio Altare, Aldo Conterno, and Roberto Voerzio says that the guard is not changing based on these reviews. Over time, wineries like Vietti may be considered in that top group if they continue to get such good reviews.

Giuseppe Rinaldi??? newhere

A number of well-regarded producers were not included because the wines were not available or at an awkward stage. Those will be published later this year including G. Rinaldi, G. Mascarello, Vajra, Porro, Cavallotto, and Clerico. Certainly a few of those would make many people’s top producers list.

I love GRinaldi wines…and have for years made sure to get more than a few for almost every vintage…along with B&G Mascarello,especially Bartolo.If the market considers them to be “3rd or 4th Growth” caliber…all the better.

I would not underestimate Galloni’s influence on the Piedmont. He is the best writer in the world on the topic. He is part of the reason we are having conversations like this, people care about the topic. And he is a/the reason for the interest. And the torch is being passed in Piedmont. You should have have no doubts that Vietti and Luca will have a hand on it as it is being lit.

Really? A bit of hyperbole, I think.

As for torches, Vietti has been making great wine for many years. The Villero Riserva has been turning heads for 18 years and its rarity (300 cases or so) and quality has always kept it in some rarified company. And – I disagree with Klapp here – so has Elio Grasso. His Runcot in 1996 first got me focused on that property…and if I recall it received a “wine of the year” and tre bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso. Although if you go back to 89 and 90, Elio Grasso made really great wine in those vintages. That’s over a 25 year period. And Sandrone has been making transcendent wine from Cannubi since at least 1982…have you had that wine? Crazy good and as good as anything from 82 (Giacosa and G. Conterno included). So, how exactly, are torches getting passed with the 2010 vintage? These producers have been assuming mantles and making fantastic wine for a very long time. Have they yet to overtake the likes of Giacosa, Gaja and Conterno in terms of quality and collectibility? No, but I also doubt they ever will.

As for Antonio, he is a great guy, a talented taster and I like him very much, but I think even he is modest enough to recognize the exaggeration in your statement. “The best writer in the world on the topic”? Have you read all the other writers who write in Europe on the topic of Piedmonte, and in other languages, or do you really mean the best writer, writing in English, in America, who is easily available to you?

Barry, was the '96 Elio Grasso Runcot Riserva as oaky as the recent releases have been? It’s the only one of the three Barolo wines (see how I avoided the plural of “Barolo” there?) from Grasso that I never like, and I LOVE the other two each time I taste them. Any disagreement about the historical reputation aside, it’s nice to see some people with a lot more experience than I have with this region citing Grasso as a worthwhile part of a cellar. I’ve been thinking the same thing since I first tried the lineup a few years ago, and buying based on that opinion. I don’t know how the wines will age, though, so the optimism of some people here gives me more confidence.

[/quote] So, how exactly, are torches getting passed with the 2010 vintage?[/quote]

One way perhaps, would be the grip hold the ultra traditionalist have had as the quintessential representation of Barolo is lessening.