For those that follow Italian wine, know that Antonio Galloni is the man to listen to when it comes to which vintages and which wines to buy. Whilst there is sometimes a difference of opinion (ie Soldera 2006 with my wine group), I value and judge his opinion more than anyone else on Italian wine.
Vintage 2010 Overview
The 2010 Barolos have all of the attributes of a cool, late-ripening vintage; expressive aromatics, chiseled fruit, plenty of site-specificity and the potential to develop beautifully for years and decades in bottle. At the same time, the wines have gorgeous depth and richness, perhaps a result of the high temperatures in July. Next to the 2008s, which were generally brought in later, the 2010s have a bit less aromatic intensity, more tannic clout and greater overall structure. A number of growers mentioned that the berry size was small in 2010, which explains why the wines have the tannic presence they do. As always, there are a handful of underperforming wines, but they are the exception rather than the rule. In general terms, it is clear the Barolos are more successful than the 2010 Barbarescos, pointing out the need once again to consider each of these two areas individually. The 2010 Barolos are also several notches higher in quality and far more exciting than the 2009s.
Overall, 2010 can be characterized as a vintage with cooler than normal temperatures and a mid-October harvest for Nebbiolo. Total degree days were lower than both 2009 and 2011. Growers reported fairly normal conditions during fruit set, although for some estates rain in early May delayed flowering. June saw quite a bit of rain, but towards the end of the month, after flowering was completed. July was very dry with daytime temperatures at the high end of normal. Evenings were cool throughout the summer months, creating the diurnal temperature swings that are so favorable for gradual, even ripening. October brought with it high amounts of rain. Well-drained sites handled the rain well, but some vineyards were penalized. In a cool, rainy vintage, proper balance in the vineyards and reasonable crop loads were especially critical. Most estates harvested their Nebbiolos around the middle of October, which today is regarded as a normal time frame. By comparison, both 2008 and 2013 were quite a bit later, while 2007 and 2009 were earlier harvests.
Readers who have tasted the 2010s from Tuscany (especially Chianti Classico) and/or the 2010 Red Burgundies will have a very clear idea of the style of the vintage. It is a year that will appeal to classicists, as the wines are translucent and incredibly expressive. Stylistically, the 2010s remind me of the 2004s, but with more mid-palate pliancy and overall depth. Simply put, 2010 is the greatest young Barolo vintage I have tasted in 18 years of visiting the region and a lifetime of buying, cellaring and drinking these wines. Antonio Galloni
These wines will be released throughout this year and I will be spending a lot of time when I am in Italy and the Langhe in April trying these wines. Throughout the year, I will also try and organise a dinner focused solely on this Barolo vintage.
So bottom line is that if you want to start to collecting Italian wine and Barolo in particular, the 2010 vintage for Barolo is probably the perfect way to start.