Exactly one year ago I wrote an editorial for Doctor Wine entitled: Barolo, the next icon (LINK). I would never have imagined predicting so precisely what then took place in the following, even if there were many elements to make such a forecast. Due to the combination of some disappointing vintages in Bordeaux and Burgundy and an extraordinary one for Barolo, vintage 2010 for the Italian wine had an enormous success among the world of wine’s ‘big spenders’ and it is now almost impossible to find a bottle.
The lion’s share of Barolo wineries came under siege and were literally gutted and with the first 2011 coming out, the product of a harvest that was almost as good as the previous one, the Barolo ‘craze’ seems far from subsiding. This is great because finally an Italian wine, and not just an estate ‘brand’, is firmly establishing itself as a choice among those wine-lovers who normally drink the great Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, the Mosel whites and some ‘iconic’ wines from the New World. Let’s hope that this success in sales does not translate into outrageous price hikes, as occurred with the above-mentioned wines.
For us ‘normal’ wine-lovers many of the wines that were affordable, or at least within our reach, only 15 years ago are now totally beyond our economic means. The risk that Barolo will become a member of that high-priced club may be positive for the image of Italian wine and for producers’ pockets, but it bleed the rest of us dry.