Barolo 2016 – the vintage to rule them all? Every vintage is different. Some are hot, some are cold, some are dry and some are wet. And then you have everything in between. Sometimes, you have a vintage where everything kind of lines up. 2016 is such a vintage.
What is the best weather, you might ask. The reason it’s hard to answer this question is the fact that each step of the way, the grapes need different things. You want rain in the growing season, but not too much. During the harvest, the absence of rain is preferred. It needs to be warm, but not too warm, and you also want the nights to be cooler toward the harvest, but not too cool. The grapes are indeed quite high maintenance.
But then you have the “magic” vintages. The weather in 2016 was just about as perfect as can get for the Nebbiolo grapes. The growing season was long, there was an absence of natural disasters like hail, the weather was stable toward the end of the season and the harvest was late.
A lot of good Barolos came out of 2016, but what struck me the most is the high quality of the classic blends compared to the Cru Barolos. The classic blends are usually simpler, less complicated and can sometimes be perceived as inferior to the Cru Barolos. But in 2016 the disparity between the two is much smaller. I found the blends to be approachable, elegant, fresh and complex. It might be the year to stock up on the classic blends and give your wallet a break.
Among the Barolo 2016s I’ve tasted, a few stood out. The unifying aspect connecting these wines was the “wow” feeling I got when I tried them. They were more than good wines, there was something extraordinary about them.
Azelia Barolo Cerretta 2016 – Now we’re talking! A powerful Barolo with an explosive nose. Notes of chocolate, tobacco, fruit. Big but sweet tannins.
Burlotto Barolo 2016 – Holy shit. An incredibly approachable Barolo with elegant tannins. On the nose you’ll find hints of spices, tobacco, some chocolate and violets.
Diego e Damiano Barale Barolo 2016 – Smooth and elegant Barolo with notes of leather, roses and red fruit. Excellent structure with round but persistent tannins.
Francesco Borgogno Barolo Brunate 2016 – Beautiful nose, just like a Brunate should smell. Elegant wine with a long finish. Hints of tar on the nose.
Marengo Barolo Brunate 2016 – Holy tits on toast. Those were my exact notes. A beautiful nose – floral and fruity. Elegant tannins, very smooth. This wine has huge potential.
Note that our tastes may differ, and these are based on my personal preferences. The wines are sorted in alphabetical order.
Barolo 2016 Tasting Notes
Andrea Oberto Barolo Commune di La Morra
A very fresh Barolo with some balsamic notes. Hint of red fruit and tobacco. Tasted blind next to Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata 2016 and Barolo Arbarella 2015.
Andrea Oberto Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata
Lovely floral and fruity nose. A big wine with sweet (round) tannins. My favorite Barolo 2016 from Andrea Oberto. Tasted blind next to Barolo 2016 and Barolo Arbarella 2015.
Andrea Oberto Barolo Albarella
A very floral and feminine Barolo with hint of licorice. Tasted next to the Barolo Albarella 2015, and although 2015 is a good vintage, 2016 is definitely more expressive and approachable.
Floral and fruity nose, elegant tannins, good structure and long finish. A classic Barolo with grapes from Castiglione and Serralunga, giving the wine a good mix of feminine and masculine characteristics.
Azelia Barolo Margheria
A powerful wine! Notes of tobacco, chocolate and spices.
Azelia Barolo San Rocco
Another big wine from Azelia. Notes of chocolate and warm dark fruit.
Azelia Barolo Cerretta
Now we’re talking! A powerful Barolo with an explosive nose. Notes of chocolate, tobacco, fruit. Big but sweet tannins.
Holy shit. An incredibly approachable Barolo with elegant tannins. On the nose you’ll find hints of spices, tobacco, some chocolate and violets.
Burlotto Barolo Acclivi
My first thought: What an extreme difference to the classic. The nose was so much more explosive. Roses, wet forest floor, spices. Smooth tannins. Spicy in the mouth.
Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero
Again, so different on the nose. Typical monvigliero notes, almost like perfume. Spicy and floral. Impressive wine that is both powerful and elegant at the same time, with a long finish.
Burlotto Barolo Cannubi
Floral, fruity, fresh. Bigger in the mouth than the other three. Big but with sweet tannins, making it relatively approachable now. But this is a wine I would store for a while.
Cascina Fontana Barolo
“A wine complete” – Mario. Everything is good – well integrated, good nose, good structure. Elegant with a long finish.
Cascina Fontana Barolo Castiglione
More masculine notes compared to the classic Barolo. Bigger in the mouth, but still elegant.
Beautiful nose with notes of roses, fruit and leather. Very elegant tannins.
Cavallotto Barolo Vignolo
Big but approachable. Notes of roses and tobacco. Long finish.
Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi
Explosive nose, very feminine and fresh. A very elegant Barolo.
Chiara Boschis Barolo Nia Nuova
Via Nuova is a lot bigger than Cannubi, more masculine.
Chiara Boschis Barolo Mosconi
A big wine with a long finish. Can feel the Monforte tannins. Huge potential!
Cristian Boffa Barolo Capalot
A delicate Barolo with a floral nose and round tannins.
Diego e Damiano Barale Barolo
Smooth and elegant Barolo with notes of leather, roses and red fruit. Excellent structure with round but persistent tannins.
Diego Morra Barolo Zinzasco
Balsamic and tobacco on the nose with a hint of chocolate. Big round tannins but they go away quite quickly and then you’re left with beautiful fruit and chocolate.
Diego Morra Barolo Monvigliero
Typical Monvigliero nose, with a hint of spices. Sweet, round tannins.
Elio Grasso Barolo Gavarini Chiniera
A big Monforte Barolo with notes of red fruit and licorice. Fairly approachable for a Monforte Barolo
Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Casa Mate
More explosive nose compared to the Gavarini Chiniera. A big wine with persistent tannins.
Ettore Germano Barolo Serralunga
Spicy, floral and fruity. Elegant but with good structure. A powerful and balanced wine.
Ettore Germano Barolo Prapo
A powerful yet elegant Barolo with softer tannins.
Ettore Germano Barolo Cerretta
More powerful and concentrated. Balsamic nose with hints of concentrated fruit. Powerful tannins, a rustic Barolo.
Francesco Borgogno Barolo Brunate
Beautiful nose, just like a Brunate should smell. Elegant wine with a long finish. Hints of tar on the nose.
Giovanni Corino Barolo Del Comune di La Morra
Typical Barolo nose with notes of dark red fruits. Strict tannins but still relatively approachable.
Giovanni Corino Barolo Bricco Manescotto
Round and elegant tannins, almost reminding me of a Langhe Nebbiolo. Some balsamic notes.
Giovanni Corino Barolo Arborina
Very approachable with silky smooth tannins. Good structure. Notes of flowers, cherries and other red fruit.
Giovanni Corino Barolo Giachini
Approachable with elegant tannins. Fruity and floral with notes of tar and warmer fruits.
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo
Notes of oak, spices and rose petals. Big tannins, typical of a Monforte Barolo. Very good, long finish.
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo San Giovanni
This Barolo smells just like e a Barolo should smell. Some oak notes in addition to notes of licorice, leather and cherries. Big in the mouth, a typical Monforte Barolo. A tad spicy with a long finish.
Luigi Pira Barolo Del Comine di Serralunga
Elegant nose with hints of roses and spices. A big but elegant wine, with persistent tannins.
Luigi Pira Barolo Margheria
Round and elegant, yet persistent. Notes of roses, leather and licorice.
Luigi Pira Barolo Marenca
A more masculine and austere Barolo, but also quite crisp and fresh. Notes of tobacco, spices and menthol.
Luigi Pira Barolo Vignarionda
Beautiful nose with notes of roses, red fruit and chocolate. An explosive wine with a long finish.
Smells just like a Barolo should, with notes of roses, leather and fruit. Smooth tannins that disappear quickly.
Marengo Barolo Bricco Delle Viole
A more floral nose compared to the classic, with hints of roses and violets. More tannins than the classic as well.
Marengo Barolo Brunate
Holy tits on toast. Those were my exact notes. A beautiful nose – floral and fruity. Elegant tannins, very smooth. This wine has huge potential.
Mauro Veglio Barolo
Subtle nose with notes of spices, leather, flowers. Tastes just like a Barolo should taste – elegant and balanced. A big powerful wine, yet elegant, with a long finish.
Mauro Veglio Barolo Arborina
Smells like Arborina, a beautifully feminine wine. Notes of rose petals with a hint of leather. An impressive Barolo that’s smooth in the mouth. Arborina tends to be more direct/vertical than Gattera.
Mauro Veglio Barolo Gattera
Slightlymore masculine than Arborina. Notes of wet soil, spices, leather on the nose. Bigger tannins, rounder, more complex than the Arborina.
Mauro Veglio Barolo Castelletto
Very spicy nose. Notes of tar and forest floor. More tannins and more structure than Arborina and Gattera.
Mauro Veglio Paiagallo
Mauro Veglio Barolo Paiagallo 2016 has a very elegant nose of red berries, mainly strawberry and raspberry. The wine is powerful but elegant. Remarkably soft tannins!
Mauro Molino Barolo Bricco Luciani
Feminine with smooth tannins. Red berries and floral notes.
Nadia Curto Barolo La Foia
More tension than 2015. Fresh and crisp. Big but elegant.
Roses, tobacco and tar. A wonderful, big Barolo. Might need some time in the glass to open up.
Perfect Barolo nose! A powerful wine with big tannins but they disappear quickly and you’re left with wonderful fruit.
Vietti Barolo Lazzarito
Fresh nose, very fruity and floral with hints of spices and forest floor. Good structure.
Vietti Barolo Ravera
Balsamic nose with hints of leather and licorice. Spicy in the mouth with a long finish. This wine needs time
Vietti Barolo Brunate
Beautiful nose – floral, elegant, fruity. Powerful but also elegant. Long finish.