Please note:

We are not taking orders for delivery at present. More Information.

Barolo Vintages

The lowdown of the past five years in Barolo

A difficulty during this trip was getting a clear steer on the past five years though we kept asking. Not so much a case of PR soundbites, but genuinely different takes from different people. The last unanimous declaration, at least of the negative variety, was the woebegotten 2002.

Nadia Curto with Sebastian Payne

2015 was universally agreed bella annata, as it clearly is for the whole of Italy with the exception of Puglia, where 50°C was hit in summer. Such was the gossip from the recent Merano Wine Festival, where the whole of Italy seems to shoehorn itself into the Kurhaus to show its wares to the paying public. The July heat ‘killed the bugs’ (Vajra). Nadia Curto remarked on an early harvest, all over by 1st October. ‘It came in at 15% and we’re trying to get it down to 14.99 for the label so it doesn’t scare the horses’ (Gianmarco Ghisolfi). ‘Amazing but will be very approachable’ (Pietro Colla). ‘Fantastic balance, but it may be a bit psychological as expectation is high’ (Matteo Ascheri) ‘Very pleased’ (Marta Rinaldi who flagged up the difference between night and day temperatures, and the acidity that add acidity and finesse to the kind of ripeness encountered in the hotter 2011s).


Bruna Grimaldi

A cautious ‘wait and see ‘ from Fabio Alessandria who opines that there is less colour than in 2014 but that ‘quality, for sure is good.’

2014, beset by a very poor, cold summer, hail and problems with waterlogging was uniformly ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’ but by nobody’s reckoning disastrous, because though the crop was very short, a fine September ripened the nebbiolo, so quality looks good and there were certainly some very attractive wines. The earlier-picked dolcetto fared less well. The only variety to emerge unscathed in terms of yield was moscato. Colla lost 50% of their crop, with dolcetto being the main victim, and so did Rinaldi with nebbiolo.

"Difficult but good for white wine, though less concentrated than 2010"

Bruna Grimaldi

2013 was described, helpfully, at Colla as a ‘very Piemontese vintage’. More specifically, it was a cool year, harvested late following a late Spring floraison. Yieds were pretty average, low for dolcetto and it was a great barbera year by all accounts. . ‘A very good,balanced vintage, neither too hot nor too cold – ‘normal’ ie classic Barolo similar to 2008 or 2010’ (Bruna Grimaldi).

"Molto bene - complete and concentrated"

Marta Rinaldi

‘Nervosa - pasta wine’ (Enzo Bezza, but of barbera to be fair)

Mauro Mascarello with daughter Elena and wife Maria Teresa

2012 was a very balanced vintage, less warm than 2011 and a lot more finesse, especially in Barolo’ (Elena Mascarello).

"Very classical, very Barolo, with elegance, structure and tipicita – after 7 years it will still be a bambino"

Gianmarco Ghisolfi

And ‘more delicate and feminine’ (Colla again). Echoed by Marta Rinaldi ‘very feminine, good acidity, less body’. ‘Very balanced’ (Enzo Brezza) ‘Warmer than ’13, very hot in August, and cooler and wetter in September’ (Bruna Grimaldi)

2011 was the hot one with a big crop, though ranting alcohol levels were a problem for some producers. Lots of ‘hell’ and wind (Bolmida). Nadia Curto remembered how cold the winter was, which saw temperatures plunge to minus 20C and the wines freeze solid. There was a lot of snow which served to be a lifesaver when the hot summer set in, thanks to retained moisture in the soil. Enzo Brezza called it a ‘killer’ of typically 15% volumes, which you ‘needed an arms licence to sell’ !

Note that what happens in Barolo does not follow in Barbaresco, barely a couple of miles to the north and east of its border. More on that story from Aldo Vacca here!

Where to go next?

Return to Trip Overview >

More from this trip

Trip homepage >

Other recent buyer trips

Portugal 2016

Portugal Unfortified

Considering its size, Portugal can stake a convincing claim to being the most diverse winemaking country anywhere. Its non-fortified wines continue to excite us.

View full trip

Bordeaux 2016

Bordeaux for the first time

Trainee buyer Freddy Bulmer joins head of buying Tim Sykes on an eye-opening trip to Bordeaux where he’s thrown in at the deep end with trips to Society favourites Sichel, Dourthe, Moueix and Dubourdieu.

View full trip
Giro d’Italia: Part II

Italy 2016

Giro d’Italia: Part II

The final leg of this mammoth tour taking in five regions in just five days sees buyer Sebastian Payne MW and News editor Joanna Goodman in land-locked Umbria with Montefalco producer Scacciadiavoli and the Barberanis in Orvieto. Finishing up in Tuscany, they spend time with our Society Chianti Rufina supplier where Gualberto talks on video about the true nature of Rufina wines.

View full trip

Austria 2016

Discovering Austria

The Society’s digital copywriter Martin Brown joins buyer Sarah Knowles MW on a tour of Austria, where they enjoy the fruits of the excellent 2015 vintage and blend a new Society wine.

View full trip
Browse all >

Members' Comments (0)

There are no comments for this article.

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.