2018 BAROLO VINTAGE REPORT
The talk of the town around Barolo these days is the newly published article by Antonio Galloni where he nearly bashes most of the wines from the 2018 vintage. Of course this was disappointing to the winemakers who put their heart and soul into the wines. Though most agree this is a generally lighter style vintage, it was by no means considered a bad year. So did it really deserve this bad press?
BAROLO VINTAGE – WEATHER IN 2018
Galloni likens the 2018 vintage to a hangover from the challenging 2017 year which presented early frost, hail and then a long hot dry spell in the summer. 2018 started off with a long and wet winter which lasted until the end of March with lower than average temperature. This was actually beneficial because the soils were in major need of hydration.
The Spring presented some problems with abundant precipitations from the end of May until early June which caused many fungal issues in the vineyards. However, the summer was beautiful and gradually warmed up in a very classic pattern until the Fall. There was a lot of vegetation so quite a bit of thinning had to be done in the vineyards at different moments.
The Barolo harvest was generally completed in the first three weeks of October, therefore quite a traditional harvest in good conditions. Overall, the phenolic ripening was completed and the acidity was sufficient, making this an overall good vintage. There have been other “accessible” vintages in the last 25 years so why did 2018 get such offensive evaluations and low scores?
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and if a critic does not necessarily enjoy a wine, then I think it is correct to freely express that. Sometimes it can be hard to criticize when you have good relationships with the winemakers because it is such a small community. In a certain sense, I appreciate the honesty.
However, I think it is fundamental to be delicate with words when you have such a strong influence on buyers and the market. Statements like these can really be damaging:
“Some may try to pass off the 2018 Barolos as easygoing wines, i.e. wines that are good for restaurants. Be careful. While that generalization is certainly true for some 2018s, the reality is that the market will soon be awash with a number of weak, emaciated 2018 Barolos that discerning readers will want to avoid.” – Read the article
We saw this happen in 2014 when the journalists massacred the vintage before even tasting it. People were “avoiding” the vintage as Galloni recommends above, even if many producers were very proud of their efforts that year. Now look what happened, the 2014 vintage, years later is being re-evaluated.
Some producers told me that trash talking about a vintage, although never ok, would have been more understandable for 2014 than 2018 which overall was thought of as a good vintage!
Unfortunately this makes you wonder why producers who were once favorites, all of a sudden were receiving meager scores.
- Is there something political going on? Is the success of Barolo bothering other regions?
- Were the Langhe Nebbiolos when released, so bad in his opinion when released a few years ago?
- What about the 2018 Barbarescos last year?
Something seems fishy. According to my research, this vintage seemed to always have been mentioned as a “pretty, fruity and accessible wine” but never criticized in such a way as in this article.
This is a reminder that points are not everything! I am on a mission now to prove that you can find lovely 2018s and will start compiling a list of my favorites for a new post! If you have tasting any lately that you enjoyed please let me know and keep an open mind!
Thanks, Anna. Great perspective and I appreciate your tenacity in helping to provide another point of view on specific wines from the lovely 2018 vintage. You know my feelings about scores. For me, the stories behind the labels can tell us more about a wine than a double digit number. They certainly do make the experience all the more enjoyable.
You are absolutely right. The point system can be a guide but wine is such a living thing that it changes from week to week and depends so much on the person’s palate at that moment too. I think the majority of wines in Piemonte are so good, it is definitely more interesting to hear the stories behind the wines and know something special about it, which always makes it taste better too! thank you for reading.
Very thoughtful of you to bring this to light, Anna. I share your concerns.
Thank you for reading Tom! It is an honour!
i visited the region in december and for sure the card is mixed for 2018. that said, i did taste some outstanding wines. pick up a bottle of the Poderi Colla Barbaresco Roncaglie and take note of the early complexity and inner beauty of this wine. it will knock your socks off! I was also lucky enough to taste through the Burlotto 2018’s. they were all outstanding. try to get a bottle of their “terrible” 2018 barolo’s! Good luck with that. on the other side of the coin were the Brovia baroli which had a much more challenging 2018. Let’s not “kill the messenger” 2018 was not 2016, but there are gems out there to be found. knowing and talking to individual producers goes a long way in understanding how the vintage turned out for them………
What great feedback! Thank you:) Yes that is also the fun of finding the real gems in not so famous or easy vintages. I appreciate your feedback so much. Grazie!
i also want to take my hat off to Conterno’s Nervi lineup for 2018. the normale as well as the single vineyard bottlings are simply stunning. the inner sweetness, incredible purity of the fruit, and wonderful balance makes these “burgundian style” nebbiolo’s one’s not to be missed. If. you haven’t been to his new cantina in Gattinara, get up there! it’s a thing of beauty! the attention to detail will blow you away.
I have not been yet but will hopefully get there soon:)