Fine wine predictions: rise of Piedmont?

22nd July, 2015 by Rupert Millar

Is the time for the northern Italian region coming as its Bolgheri cousins suffer at the hands of a Bordeaux resurgence?

piedmont460_1474724cOnline fine wine platform, Wine Owners (WO), has released a number of fine wine predictions it expects to see come to fruition over the coming year.

One of these centres around the potential for Piedmont to become the driving force in the Italian fine wine category as the “Super Tuscans” see their advance blunted by a renewed interest in Bordeaux.

As WO points out, the Super Tuscans (in particular) have been on a “five year roll, further boosted as money came out of Bordeaux and searched for qualitative and volumetric equivalence elsewhere.”

Nonetheless, according to WO’s data prices have flattened since the end of 2014 and prices are down from their peaks and demand for wines made with international grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, “has become decidedly sluggish as the focus switches back to Bordeaux. This is likely to continue.”

All of which can only leave Piedmont with its Barolos and Barbarescos as the next plausible Italian fine wine region to attract the attention of collectors.

The WO Northern Italian index is up 15% in the last three years and 3% over the last 12 months (see chart below).

wine owners n italy chart

The top five wines on the index are all Barolos: Giacomo Conterno’s 2002 Monfortino Barolo Riserva which is up 40.78% in the last year, the 2000 Cascina Francia Barolo and 2001 Monfortino Riserva also from Conterno, the 1999 Luciano Sandrone Le Vigne Barolo and 2005 Monfortino Riserva.

WO explained: “Barolos and Barbarescos from 2010, considered to be a great Piedmont vintage, have ignited interest in the region, and its similarities with Burgundy (small estates, fragmented ownership, mono-cepage (single noble grape variety) suggest there is future value to be achieved.”

Clearly, the idea is that the “Burgundy of Italy” as Piedmont is often labelled can trust in what has made that French region so successful recently – tiny production meeting “insatiable” demand.

The changing of the guard at many estates with younger winemakers taking over from their parents should help drive a further “qualitative sea change” although with the attention so far largely centred on the Conterno, Mascarello and Rinaldi estates/families the trend is clearly for “classic” Nebbiolo.

WO concluded: “Attempting to spot the up-and-coming producers may be future-focused and require patience and belief, but it is likely to pay longer-term dividends for lovers of the finest Nebbiolo wines.”

More of WO’s fine wine predictions will be examined over the course of the following weeks.

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