Consorzio Collio 2024 (175x100)

Barolo, the market holds. Between research and charity, looks to “Barolo en Primeur” (October 25)

The charity auction by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo - Crc and Consorzio del Barolo e Barbaresco, in three editions, has raised €2.3 million

If red wines, on the consumption front, seem to be struggling a bit, the Langhe of Barolo and Barbaresco, with the strength of their prestige, seem to be running a bit of a separate race. Wine values remain very high: according to the latest data from the Cuneo Chamber of Commerce, 2019 Barolo travels between 911 and 990 euros per hectoliter, 2020 goes up to 956, while 2020 Barbaresco is quoted at around 700 euros, and 2021 Barbaresco goes as high as 804. While the value of the vineyards continues to remain around 2 million euros per hectare, reaching even close to 4 in the most prestigious “cru” of Barolo, an aspect that on the one hand capitalizes the estates, on the other complicates things for producers who still want to invest in the vineyard, and also makes the generational transition in the wineries themselves complex (and burdensome) (a theme already explored in the 2024 edition of “Grandi Langhe”, ed.). But, as mentioned, the market is holding up, as explained to WineNews by Sergio Germano, newly appointed president of the Barolo Consortium, with “bottlings in the first part of the year just below the levels of 2019, a record and in many ways anomalous year, with so many orders at the end of the year from the U.S., due to the fear of delivery delays related to logistical problems at that time”. And the prestige of Barolo and Barbaresco, along with the always effective appeal of solidarity, is behind the success of “Barolo en Primeur”, an international charity auction desired and promoted by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo in collaboration with the Fondazione Crc Donare Ets and with the support of the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani, which is looking ahead to the 2024 edition, with wines from the 2023 vintage, after having raised more than 2.37 million euros in the first three editions for the development of social and cultural projects, including support for the Scuola Enologica di Alba. An important aspect, as Sergio Germano stressed again, because “research will be increasingly decisive for the future, and also thanks to “Barolo en Primeur” we want to make the Alba School of Enology a reference educational center, even more than it already is, available to producers in the area”.
The stars of “Barolo en Primeur” are the barrels from the Gustava Vineyard at the foot of the Grinzane Cavour Castle, and which belonged to Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, vinified by enologist Donato Lanati, one of the most authoritative in Italy and guide of the Enosis Meraviglia Center, separately to give each its own unique personality, the result of parceling out the vineyard according to exposure, altitude and age of the vines. Barolo is auctioned off a year after the harvest, then must then wait for more than 2 more years before it can be put on the market, thus completing the minimum 38 months of aging from November 1 of the year the grapes were produced, as required by the Consortium’s production regulations.
In parallel with the Vigna Gustava barrels, the initiative involves the Consortium's production base by directly involving the wineries of Barolo and Barbaresco. Starting with the second edition, in fact, many wineries in the area donate their bottles, each in different quantities and formats, which are auctioned during “Barolo en Primeur” as communal lots, that is, collected in a super partes manner under the hat of the municipality to which they belong. The proceeds are donated to the Alba School of Enology and other territorial entities, an investment in the new generations that is essential to increasingly promote the territory, which in recent years has seen growth in many respects, thanks to the skills and attractiveness that only education can bring.
“Barolo en Primeur”, “fully embodies the values and mission of Fondazione Crc: enhancement and development of the territory, support for entities active in the social and cultural sphere, and attention to the training of the younger generations”, comments Mauro Gola, newly appointed president of Fondazione Crc. “This project represents an important legacy that, as president of the Foundation, I take up with enthusiasm: an initiative born from a far-sighted intuition that, in the first three editions, has been able to develop both the link with the territory and the positioning at the national and international level. I am sure that we will know, thanks to the teamwork that has characterized “Barolo en Primeur” from the beginning, to further grow this event in the coming years”.
“As a producer, I have been able to follow the auction project over the years and see its growth significantly”, comments Sergio Germano, new president of the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani. “In my new position, I would like to focus attention on the considerable potential that the project has shown and certainly enhance the Barolo and Barbaresco brands, which need to consolidate their high positioning and give prominence to realities that are still little known. Which is already happening with the communal plots, which bring together names of already famous wineries with others that are perhaps just emerging on the world scene and in secondary markets. In addition to these objectives, the involvement of the Alba School of Enology as a hotbed of talent along with other territorial ones brings attention back to the importance of training and education in the area, to which our wineries are very attentive”.
As mentioned, in the barrels there will be the 2023 vintage (protagonist, in recent days, of a technical tasting, a mini vertical, together with the 2022 and 2021 vintages of Vigna Gustava, conducted by Lanati himself in Alba, ed.), which, in the Langhe, “began under the banner of climatic unknowns (the previous year had been characterized by a long period of drought), developed from a colder winter than the previous one that lasted until the end of February, then continued with significant rains in the last decade of March. Plant development continued steadily despite the fluctuating climatic context: an early part of spring characterized by very little rain and a May and June by frequent and sometimes substantial disturbances with generally cool weather. After the very heavy rains and hailstorms of July 6, there was a climatic reversal that led to a warm and stable summer. Thus, veraison began in the first decade of August, revealing a good production load with remarkable bunch health that presaged a good harvest in terms of both quality and quantity”. The Nebbiolo harvest, the Consortium goes on to explain, took place in October according to the canonical timetable and not early as summer temperatures might have suggested. From a quantitative point of view on an overall level, no significant drops in production were noted as reported in other wine-growing areas. Nebbiolo 2023 presents phenolic and technological levels typical of great vintages, with no correlation between summer heat and excessive sugars or drops in acidity: another demonstration of the great ability of this vine to adapt to climatic changes, also strong from its privileged relationship with the Langhe territory, thus foreshadowing a vintage of elegantly balanced wines with great potential. Which will be the basis of another successful edition of “Barolo en Primeur”, scheduled for October 25, 2024.
Meanwhile, the Consortium looks to the future, including through changes to the specification. And if it did not pass, among others, the proposal put on the plate by the outgoing Board of Directors to open up the possibility of planting vines even in north-facing lands, without in any case opening the Register of Vineyards and thus increasing the number of hectares claimed in Barolo, the green light came for limiting the bottling area for Barolo and Barbaresco (which by law must coincide with the winemaking area), an area that is not provided for in the current specifications. But also approved was the amendment that allows producers to use, for Barbaresco, formats with a capacity of more than 6 liters and up to 18 liters also for sale (currently the use of these formats is allowed only for promotional purposes), as is already the case for wines packaged in containers up to 6 liters. Thus starting the legislative process necessary to make the changes implementable in the respective specifications.

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