Barolo: Deserves its Reputation?

Has Barolo gone out of fashion? For our sister publication WEINWIRTSCHAFT it is clear after this tasting that the Piedmontese classic has lost none of its relevance. Clemens Gerke exalts the wines.

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Italy's finest (Photo: Alessandro Cristiano/
Italy's finest (Photo: Alessandro Cristiano/

40 wines competed in one of the finest tastings of the year. In the process, the Barolos lived up to their reputation as Italy's highest-quality wine. 80% of the wines were awarded 90 points and more, with Giacomo Conterno’s 2013 Monfortino surpassing all with an excellent 98 points. Three other wines with 95 points are testimony to the fact that Barolo has a world-class role to play in fine wines.

2018 Vintage

25 of the wines came from the 2018 vintage and allow for a certain appraisal of that particular year. What was striking were the slight differences to the older vintages. The myth that Barolo needs a long ageing period is pushed aside by the maturity of the modern wines of the 2018 vintage.

Yet neither the 2018s nor the older examples disavowed tradition. One thing became clear: Barolo will always be a special wine. The combination of light colour and strong tannins make it the exotic one among the classics. It is precisely the colour that contrasts with the powerful body and the consumer’s desire for colour-intensive wines.

Nebbiolo Heights

Behind these characteristics is essentially the Nebbiolo grape variety, which in only a few places in the world is driven to such heights as in Barolo. In tasting, the acidity ensures that the wines, most of which weigh in at 14.5% volume, never seem alcoholic. It is also noticeable that the strong tannins are not harsh, but elegant and textured.

In the past, traditionalists railed against the excessive use of barrique (remember legendary Bartolo Mascarello with his "No Barrique No Berlusconi"), however the tasting conducted here questions the basis of such a conflict. Even the Barolos, clearly characterised by wood on the nose, by no means lacked the classic Barolo characteristics and added only a little colour intensity.

Tasting results


Giacomo Conterno 2013 Monfortino Barolo DOCG Riserva

Bready, yeasty, forest floor, damp leaves, vanilla, hay, anise; extract rich, very elegant and harmonious, discreet grip, coats the whole mouth; high, elegant intensity, polished tannins, warm finish.


Elio Filippino Frazione 2013 Barolo DOCG Riserva

Very mature style, roasted notes, leather, coconut, vanilla, Robusta coffee, clove, orange peel; rich in extract, powerful grip, good balance, spicy finish, good length, slightly chocolaty aftertaste, round tannins.

G. D. Vajra Bricco delle Viole 2018 Barolo DOCG

Cold cigar smoke, coffee, allspice, lofty red fruity etherealness, fine caramel, leather binding, top matured; super present fruit, red fruits, seemingly young tannins, minty underlay, superb finish.

Giacomo Conterno 2015 Arione Barolo DOCG

Bacon, animal, fleshy, coconut, many roasted notes, herbaceous, scrub, slightly green and vegetative, clove; lots of power and extract, decent grip, powerful, voluminous tannin, enormous intensity in the spicy finish, very good length.


Renato Ratti 2018 Rocche dell'Annunziata Barolo DOCG

Ethereal, red fruits, elderberry, cranberry, , earthy; great fruit play, rather fine fruit sweetness, modern style, playful, nevertheless complex, silky tannin, very long.

Giacomo Conterno 2017 Francia Barolo DOCG

Cherry, leaves, rosehip, vanilla, slightly herbal, leathery; fine grip, rich in extract, very dense, soft, round, powerful polished, slightly grainy tannins, elegant type, very good length.

Giacomo Conterno 2017 Cerretta Barolo DOCG

White chocolate, dried plum, sour cherry, vegetative, green pepper, fleshy; lean, elegant, cool, great draught, acidity well integrated, powerful grip, powerful tannins, good length.


Pio Cesare 2018 Barolo DOCG

Menthol, mint, cranberry, graphite, cool, mineral, fine raisin, slightly nutty; mouth-filling, menthol underlay, creamy structure, coffee, very juicy tannin with lots of power.

Renato Ratti 2018 Conca Barolo DOCG

Great classic Barolo nose, roses, tar, vanilla, touch of lactic (fits very well), then very fine leatheriness, slightly smoky, everything super discreet and integrated, rosemary; enormous amount of power and body, alcohol present but not dominant, polished tannin, great juiciness.

Elvio Cogno 2016 Vigna Elena Barolo DOCG Riserva

Coffee, dark chocolate, foliage, peppery, forest floor, slightly animal, nutty; spicy, rustic acidity, spicy grip, gentle tannins, slightly astringent.

Elvio Cogno 2017 Bricco Pernice Barolo DOCG

Wild cherry, leather, chocolate, foliage; powerful, light grip, somewhat animal, very dense, rich in extract, supple, powerful tannin, underpinned by acidity, good length, wild character, complex.

Elvio Cogno 2018 Barolo DOCG

Marzipan, sourdough, fleshy, sweet-spicy, rosemary, thyme; nice tension, juicy underlay, top acidity, easy drinking, tannin still a bit impetuous.

Bersano 2015 Badarina Barolo DOCG

Grapefruit, blood orange marmalade, foliage, chocolate, animal, cherry, anise, lovage; fresh, juicy acidity, clear fruit, elegant grip, tamed power, intense woody finish, tamed tannins.


Pio Cesare 2018 Ornato Barolo DOCG

Cereal coffee reduction, leathery, strongly matured, coffee, cedar, pickled chillies, smoke, black cherry; extremely present, maximum juiciness, sturdy, tannic, acidity and juice carry length, powerful style.

Renato Ratti 2018 Marcenasco Barolo DOCG

Very discreet, inviting nose, fine oxidation, sweet and sour cherry, raspberry, tarry note present; remains fruit-driven, very quiet type, more strawberry on the palate, minty, prancing, playful, fine, chalky tannin.

Prunotto 2017 Cerretta Barolo DOCG

Mint, clove, vanilla, white chocolate, nutty; very gentle, elegant, light grip, subtle style.

G. D. Vajra Coste di Rose 2018 Barolo DOCG

Paprika, cool spicy, hot, cinnamon, meat broth, sweet red fruit, candied raspberry; nice structure, grippy tannin, juicy, good acidity.

Fossati 2016 Barolo DOCG

Vanilla, cinnamon, spicy-bacon, sour cherry; very straight, strong draw, good grip, powerful polished tannins, good length, good drinkability.

Borgogno 2018 Barolo DOCG

Dusty, green, smoky, blueberry, wild berry, tar, bitumen, campfire, tomato stem, paprika; great acidity, very juicy, juiciness runs through, yet not too loud.

Cordero di Montezemolo 2017 Gattera Barolo DOCG

Fruity-spice, vanilla, sour cherry, laurel, spicy; fruity, fresh, has acidity, restrained tannin.

Bersano 2013 Badarina Barolo DOCG

White nougat, sour cherry, roasted nuts, lovage, thyme, meaty-bacon; harmonious from aroma to flavour, powerful, light grip, spicy, meaty, very dense, polished tannin, very good, spicy length.


Giribaldi 2018 Barolo DOCG

Nice fresh ethereal, tar, fine floral, violets, sour cherry, also black cherry, stewed plum; slender, great tannin, creamy texture, alcohol makes its presence, leathery on the palate, spicy, fresh acid structure.

Agricola Bandini 2016 R56 Barolo DOCG

Sweet fruit, vegetal, peppers, juniper, herbal; very harmonious, dense, present acidity, smooth style, discreet grip, gentle tannins, cool, elegant, good length.

Prunotto 2018 Bussia Barolo DOCG

At first a lot of wood, forest honey, shrubby, liquorice, asphalt, earthy, caramel notes; very caramel on the palate, good acid structure.

G.D. Vayra 2018 Albe Barolo DOCG

Green notes,  peppers, aloe vera, then lentils, fleshy vegetables, hints of blood, soy, develops very nicely with air; cool fruit sweetness, tannic, good length.

Cordero di Montezemolo 2018 Enrico VI Barolo DOCG

Open, lots of oxidative fruit, tomato stem, pepper, toasty, cigar, cold smoke, sweet spices, lots of coffee; somewhat discreet structure, tannin present, but docile.



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