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Barolo and Barbaresco, the diamonds in the crown of Italian quality wine in the USA

At WineNews, from “Barolo & Barbaresco World Opening”, the words of the protagonists of the wine market in California

The “reality” of the Langhe griffes, which in the vast majority of cases are run by wine families who carry on centuries-old traditions, descends into the realm of “fiction”, Los Angeles, the cradle of cinema and the capital of California, where most of the production and consumption of wine in the USA is concentrated, the protagonist of “Barolo & Barbaresco World Opening”, an event organized by the Consortium of Barolo and Barbaresco, which in recent days has brought the wines of 200 producers and the cuisine of the Langhe to the “city of angels”, in California. The wines received Oscar-like scores: 94.4 out of 100 for the 2018 Barolo, 98.3 for the 2019 Barbaresco.

The United States, after all, in 2021 imported something like 6 billion euros worth of wine, equal to 21.5% of all wine imported last year, and just under one bottle out of five of Barolo (18.7%) and Barbaresco (19%) flies overseas every year. With California, as well as New York, a privileged destination: Nebbiolo, on the West Coast, is no longer a niche, but a real passion, for novice wine lovers as well as for the most experienced connoisseurs. Star not only of the wine lists of the many Italian restaurants, but also of the cellars of the places where one eats French or Californian food, because Barolo and Barbaresco, besides being ambassadors of the Langhe in the world, have been “playing” for years in the field of the greats, with the wines of Burgundy and those of Bordeaux, protagonists in international auctions and wine clubs, as the protagonists of the Californian market, where Barolo and Barbaresco are the diamonds in the crown of Italian quality wine, tell WineNews.

“The wine lover who has always bought Barolo and Barbaresco is giving way to the curiosity of young enthusiasts who are approaching Nebbiolo, because they find a fascinating world in this wine”, says Dino Capriotti (Vinity Wine Company). “Sales continue to grow, and the interesting thing is that Barbaresco and Barolo are no longer strictly tied to Italian restaurants. We offer it to a wider range of restaurants, including California and French cuisine. The key to the success of these wines lies in their history and tradition, and so if I had to give a suggestion to producers, it would be to stay true to themselves by making the best wine possible, and not get confused in making wine for the market”.

Roberto Bruno, general manager and chief commercial officer of Fontanafredda, underlines the “great restart of the Piedmont Langhe on the American market, which is very receptive especially for Barolo, more and more a brand of territory with a growing trend since a long time. The style of wines appreciated by wine lovers, even in California, is getting closer to those that were once labeled as “food-wine”, for their elegance and complexity, and for this reason denominations like ours, which have made those values their strong point, are having great success. Thirty years ago, our Barolo Serralunga was the first to be given a communal appellation, and today, as the territory and its nuances are at the heart of the appellation’s storytelling, we must all strive to enhance and narrate it. In the long history of Barolo, there have been less favorable moments, as well as happy ones like this one, so we must always stay united”.

For Justin Gallen (Rinascimento Wine Company), “right now in the United States, despite the unfavorable exchange rate of the dollar with the euro, wine is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Above all, Barolo, which for almost 20 years has consolidated the value of the territorial brand, and together with Barbaresco is growing uninterruptedly, and this independently from the specific Mga - Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva (Additional Geographical Mention), because Barolo is already synonymous with quality, just like Burgundy. Our philosophy is to support producers independently from the rating of the vintage, buying every year the same quantity, even if nature was not generous, and this also because the image of the appellation is a guarantee of excellence”.

Even Hayley Black, Fine Wine Specialist (Winebow Imports)< believes Barolo is “a denomination on the rise, not only for collectors who follow auctions and have known its value for a long time, but also for neophyte wine lovers who participate in events dedicated to them, or to wine clubs, who see in these wines a product of great quality. Barolo has been the forerunner of Barbaresco, which is a wine still to be discovered. Barolo and Barbaresco before were almost exclusively wines for important cards, in restaurants with a sommelier capable of suggesting them, whereas today they are also found in steak houses and in restaurants that do not want to have only local Californian wines, a bit like what happened to French wines. Even wine clubs, which are always looking for something new to propose to their members, are investing on Barolo and Barbaresco, which have important longevity and are therefore suited to enter the wine lockers of the coolest clubs. Certainly, prices of these wines are increasing, but fine wine consumers, at least for now, were not sensitive to inflation, but we will see what will happen in the future”.

Jason Chietti, vice president and operating owner of Siena Imports, recalls how, in the last 10 years, Nebbiolo has become “the cult grape, and Barolo and Barbaresco, especially in the restaurant industry, have found a really important space. Especially in California, where there is an abyss among consumers, because there are those who are now approaching Italian wine and those who know more about it, and this is also thanks to the strong presence of online and of wine clubs, which have even specialized in Piedmont. There are so many opportunities right now, after the slowdown due to the pandemic, which, however, mainly affected those who were working on volumes. For two years a lot of people stayed at home, cooking and drinking wine, and the people who are back to restaurants today are more aware and also like to complete their experience with valuable wines”.

Giuseppe Lo Cascio, at the helm of Lucidity Wine, underlines how California, in terms of consumption, is “among the top 3 markets along with New York and Texas, its population has a great capacity for spending, and here there are many collectors and high-level restaurants. Being in Los Angeles with the “Barolo & Barbaresco World Opening” is important, because it brings producers to America, keeping direct relationships between wineries and clients alive. Right now the market is growing, despite the slowdown linked to Covid and a situation of inflation and instability that leads to price increases, with import and distribution costs growing exponentially. For now, consumers are willing to pay for a quality they perceive as high and consistent, and the premiumization that has taken place also thanks to the work on the MGAs has certainly contributed to strengthening the positioning of the denomination on the market”.

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