2016: A Superlative Vintage in Piedmont

The 2016 vintage is simply superb.
In a recent conversation, Aldo Vacca of the Produttori del Barbaresco, described it as the vintage of the Century and likened it to the legendary 1971s.
While we may be worried how much climate change will warp our perception of just what makes a vineyard great, 2016 is one of those windfall vintages that channel all that energy into a classical frame to produce wines of real brilliance. The vintage is deeply concentrated but it is also extraordinarily well-balanced. It twists global warming into a blessing, showing a wealth of fruit and concentration without stepping into over-ripe flavors and retaining a classical structure to balance and hang all of that onto.


Looking back over the archives, I see that we have made a habit of trumpeting each of Brovia's new releases.
Five years ago we were able to draw the analogy between the discovery of the little known wines from Brovia and possession of Frodo’s ring. Now that we are on to the 2016s; how times have changed! Brovia has been fully adopted by the traditionalists and purists, and is now established as one of the pillars of the neo-traditionalist ‘New Guard.’ Their wines are vigorously pursued by an international audience that prize them highly among the top rank of Barolo producers.
The recognition is well deserved. While many of their neighbors on the valley road to Barolo have sold-out to allow huge, hangar-like, tasting rooms, and luxury-retreat complexes to burst out, like boils across the lower slopes of Castiglione and Annunziata, Brovia’s cantina has a respectful and solid façade that is neither run-down nor swanky.
That’s their style and it follows through to the wines. They reflect Castiglione’s pivotal importance at the center of the Barolo zone. With its complex mix of soils and aspects, Castiglione is a microcosm of the Langhe. 
Brovia’s four cru Barolos are all distinct and uniquely expressive of their sites, such that Brovia now carries the torch for the terroirs of Castiglione, where many would have looked to Vietti in the past.

The crus in this offer
Rocche di Castiglione – there is no grand cru designation in Barolo but if there were, Rocche di Castiglione would easily qualify. It faces due south-east and is a dramatic site; a near cliff face, in fact, that would not be cultivated at all except for the brilliance of the wines. The soil is rocky, mean, and well-drained. The roots go deep, so that even in the hot years, the vines keep on going, while the morning-sun aspect and the steepness of the grade mean that Rocche feels the benefit of the sun’s light more than its heat.

Garblet Sue is within a Castiglione site that is better known as Fiasco or as ‘Fiasc’ when it appears on the Paulo Scavino label. It has a beautiful southwest exposition and essentially occupies the prime fillet of the ridge parallel and between that of Villero and Mascarello’s Monprivato, though it is lower in elevation. The soil has a little more clay than those higher sites, so while the wines do not lack for power, Garblet Sue is the most openly seductive of Brovia’s top wines and usually the first to come to maturity.

Ca Mia is Brovia’s only Barolo vineyard that is outside of Castiglione. It is across the valley, in Serralunga. It is a monopole of the Brea cru and archetypical of the powerhouse wines that come from the deep and dense dark soils of Serralunga; high in pH, rich in calcium and most distinctively, rich in iron. Ca Mia is the most overtly powerful of Brovia’s wines and the longest-lived.
Barolo Brea 'Ca Mia' 2016 - $95
97+ Antonio Galloni
The 2016 Barolo Brea Vigna Ca' Mia' continues a theme of total sensuality in this range. Black cherry, plum, spice, lavender, mint, licorice, sage, black pepper and leather infuse the wine with striking layers of nuance. The 2016 possesses striking inner perfume and tons of depth, with impossibly refined tannins that add to the wine's captivating balance. As always, this is the most reticent and inward of the four Barolos at Brovia, with a massively powerful finish. Even so, the 2016 possesses tremendous brilliance and plenty of the refinement that is such a signature of the vintage at this address. I can't wait to taste the 2016 with more time in bottle. What a wine!

Barolo Rocche di Castiglione 2016 - $89
96 Antonio Galloni
The 2016 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione Brovia is explosive and exuberant from the very first taste. There is a rush of sweet red plum, red cherry, mint, blood orange, cinnamon and wild flowers in this rich, heady Barolo that captures the essence of this Castiglione Falletto site. Plush fruit and silky tannins suggest the 2016 will drink well with just a few years in bottle. The 2016 is so alluring, even in the early going; it is not austere at all. The 2016 is fabulous - that's pretty much all there is to it.

Barolo 'Garblet Sue' 2016 - $85
96 Antonio Galloni
The 2016 Barolo Garblèt Sue' is laced with bright red small berry fruit, wild flowers, sage, mint, star anise, apricot and blood orange. In 2016, the Garblèt Sue' is incredibly sensual, with finer tannins than are the norm. A range of floral and savory notes add striking aromatic lift and exotic perfume. This is the most polished vintage of the Garblèt Sue' I can remember tasting. As always, the Garblèt Sue' is marked by a very obvious nervousness in its tannins, but the 2016 also has more than enough fruit to balance things out.

Barolo DOCG 2016 - $55
Not yet reviewed but don't let that stop you!

These wines are now released by the cantina and are on the way.
ETA Late January or February

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