This week we turn our full focus to the 2017 Barolos, a totally and utterly charming vintage featuring wines with plenty of freshness, character and energy. “There is plenty to like about the 2017 Barolos” writes Antonio Galloni and he goes on to posit: “The finest 2017s are distinguished by suave, polished tannins that are inside a core of fruit rather than on the outside.” It is no secret that the vintage was hot and dry, but in modern Piedmont, winemakers know how to respond accordingly, with the best producers skilfully maintaining acidity, controlling the quality of the tannins and preserving that vivid Nebbiolo fruit that we all know and love. It is clear that Barolo is poised as the next growth region in terms of global cachet due to its similarities to Burgundy, in terms of vineyard division, terroir driven style, small production and the elegance of the wines. Demand for these wines has sky-rocketed in blockbuster vintages such as last year’s 2016s, giving us reason to believe that the 2017 vintage may be one of the last vintages in which it is still possible to secure one’s top choices of allocations.
Today we are delighted to release Massolino, an estate which is famed for their single vineyards: Parafada, Margheria and Parussi, but the entry level Barolo also holds great appeal. In 2017, they have deftly succeeded in producing a set of wines, which reveal the individual nuance of each of their vineyards amidst heaps of ripe and charming red fruits and perfume. This excellence begins with their classic Barolo which has been awarded 92 points by Antonio Galloni of Vinous, who declares “The 2017 Barolo is a gorgeous, harmonious wine. In this vintage, the straight Barolo is a bit lighter than normal, as most wines are, but it is so impeccably balanced. Pliant and inviting, the 2017 will be pleasurable to drink in another year or two. The purity of the flavors is just striking. Red berry fruit, rose petal, mint, cinnamon and crushed rose petal are some of the many aromas and flavors that grace this exquisite Barolo from the Massolino family. So many 2017s are marked by sinewy tannins, here, they are especially fine.” It is available today for the release price £180 per case of six IB and is certainly an essential purchase of the vintage in our eyes.
Moving to the trio of single vineyard cuvees, the Parussi was an unqualified success in 2017, with 95 points from Galloni who admired its, “Sweet floral notes and bright, red berry fruit open first as the 2017 shows off its considerable charms. Medium in body and silky (for the year), with exceptional balance, the 2017 Parussi is stellar. This is an unbelievably classy Barolo.” Equally the Margheria 2017 leaves much to admire, with a further 95 points from Galloni, who finds it to be, “a compelling, multi-faceted Barolo loaded with personality. Sage, mint, lavender, spice, iron and red/purplish berry fruit grace this firm, classically built Barolo. This translucent, taut Barolo has so much to offer, but it also needs time to soften. Readers will find a terrific example of Margheria.” To complete the trio, the Parafada is perhaps the most reticent in its youth, having been awarded 93 points with Galloni musing, “There is plenty of depth and density, but the Parafada is very tightly wound at this stage.” We have no doubt that this release will come into its own splendidly with the next 5-10 years in bottle. The price today on release for each of these wines is £370 per case of six in bond for each of these single vineyard superstar. Indeed, we can also offer magnums of each for £135 per 1×150 IB or when purchasing one case of each wine, a special price of £1,250. In an effort to preserve only the optimal fruit of the vintage, volumes are at an all time low in 2017 so please do not delay in securing your allocation right away.
The winery’s genesis began in 1896 with Giovanni Massolino and today his great-grandsons continue running the Estate under the guidance of Giuseppe, their grandfather and Franco, their father. The upshot is that their vineyards boast old vines cultivated, boy to man, by generations of the same family. Today Giovanni and Renato, the current guardians, share experiences and approaches with their ancestors, synthesising the old with the new; adhering to tradition and experimenting with modern developments.
Since 1994 Franco undertook a subtle transformation, marrying modern variation with tradition, something that sets him apart from the majority of Barolo producers today. Massolino’s Barolos combine a classic style and structure with modern purity of flavour, creating delineated fruit profiles resulting in robust Barolos that age and improve beautifully in bottle. This style is also dictated by the nature of the vineyards sited in Serralunga d’Alba, 320-360 metres above sea level, a village that produces superlative, structured and long-lived Barolos. Here the soils date back to Helvetian era, and have plenty of tightly packed sandstone, which produces a bigger style of wine, with the defining Serralunga flavours of rose petal, tar, earth and mushroom. The wine is fermented and macerated for 15 days at 31-33ºC, a deep extraction, it is then aged in large oak casks for 30 months, followed by a year in bottle before release.