Piedmont 2010 perfectly timed

Piedmont’s producers have hailed a “super vintage” as they release their 2010 wines into a market showing “unprecedented” demand for this region.

Piedmont producers and David Gleave MW (centre) share their views on the 2010 harvest.

Piedmont producers and David Gleave MW (centre) share their views on the 2010 harvest.

Assessing the quality of the 2010s at an event hosted by UK merchant Liberty Wines, Franco Massolino of Serralunga producer Massolino declared: “For us it’s something special”, describing 2010 as “a vintage that is able to show at the same time a powerful longevity but also elegance.”

For Massolino, an important factor behind this character was the warm, dry spell at the end of the growing season. “The hot days and cool nights meant that the bunches of grapes ripened very slowly so there was great colour, great stability in the polyphenols and great tannins”, he explained.

Offering a view from nearby Barbaresco, Luisa Rocca of Bruno Rocca highlighted the beneficial effect of “a lot of snow in winter and rain in the spring”, which set the vines up well for the long dry summer conditions. “It was a super vintage for all Barbaresco,” she declared.

David Gleave MW, managing director of Liberty Wines, picked out one factor in particular that makes the 2010 vintage shine. “For me one of the great things about 2010 is the acidity of the finish”, he remarked. “A lot of really great vintages in Barolo and Barbaresco – 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004 – weren’t the most powerful, but they were the most balanced with a lovely combination of intensity and acid.”

For Giuseppe Domenico of GD Vajra, “The very end of August was key to understanding the season and these wines.” He recalled: “We had a fairly cool season all over but a good warm end of August that I feel was quite key to why we can have tension and freshness in 2010, but still juiciness and ripeness in these wines.”

However, despite the quality of the finished wine and relatively favourable conditions during the growing season, Domenico noted: “It was not an easy harvest.”

As a result of the cool conditions for much of the spring and summer, the late harvest date meant that “there was concern about rain.” In order to balance optimum grape maturity across Piedmont’s highly varied topography with the threat posed by the weather, Domenico stressed: “There was a lot of engagement in making sure of the condition of each vineyard.”

For all this requirement of attention to detail in the vineyard, Gleave remarked: “2010 was probably more uniform in quality than 2009, which was a more difficult growing season because of the heat and sun.” In particular, he observed: “2010 had the long growing season that Nebbiolo needs to be at its best.”

Franco Conterno of Aldo Conterno

Franco Conterno of Aldo Conterno

This confidence in the overall quality of the vintage was echoed by Franco Conterno of Barolo producer Aldo Conterno. “There are some vintages that you have to taste before you buy to see the philosophy of the winemaker that year”, he remarked. “Other vintages like 2010 you can buy before you taste because 98% of wineries have great, great results.”

This widely acknowledged quality appears to be matched by enthusiasm from customers for these wines, with Gleave confirming: “We have seen an unprecedented demand for the 2010 vintage in Barolo.”

Setting this strong demand within the context of the wider fine wine market, Gleave observed: “Part of this is no doubt due to the quality of the wines, but a part is also due to the search for something to fill the gap created by the poor en primeur campaign in Bordeaux and by the tiny vintages in Burgundy in recent years. I am convinced that this will give Barolo the share of the fine wine market it deserves.”

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