A week or so before, he asked a similar question to Antonio Galloni (that podcast here), who has been going there since 1997. Antonio expressed concern that the wines and the social climate of Barolo (and Barbaresco) might be shifting towards the more exclusive and limited (and expensive) world of wine in which Burgundy finds itself. Not at all the least because both of these wine producing areas are rather small compared to Bordeaux or Napa Valley. But the tendency for wealthy collectors to gravitate towards the rare and unobtainable is something we probably won’t see going away, unless there is a worldwide pandemic. At which point, who will care about wine of any kind?
The two AC's: Alfredo Currado and Alfonso Cevola in Castiglione Falletto circa 1984
Today, Gaja’s wines are approaching the DRC club. Only the wealthiest 1% of the 1%ers can savor these wines in their Lalique “100-point” or Zalto crystal wine chalices. Even a visit to Gaja today (see Gaja winery visit letter here) will set back the average Joe a €300 ‘donation’ (to one of several of the Gaja family selected charities). For such a donation (bank wire transfer, one month in advance and reconfirmed by email) one is granted a visit at Gaja that will “include a cellar tour and a wine tasting with wines selected by the Gaja family, which in total will last approximately two hours.”
which is public and on the record) when pressed by Levi, he admits that some wineries have not been smitten with some of his reviews. One in particular, Bruno Giacosa, it was reported by Galloni himself, even went so far as to ban him from visiting.
“There are people who don’t want to let you taste their wines, which is, I think, a bit shortsighted, but it’s unfortunate. I mean there’s places definitely where I can’t go back and taste. We were talking before about Bruno Giacosa, that’s another one, I mean. They were just livid after I wrote what I wrote about their Riserva, their ’08 red label, and I can’t go back there and taste. That’s OK; I’ll just go buy the wines.Imagine someone as passionate and influential as Antonio Galloni, and indeed a nice guy, being shown the door by the Giacosa family? Limiting access to only those wealthy enough or anointed by a winery owner? This doesn’t bode well for people who love wine and have a brain, but maybe not so large of a bank account.
“Bruno Giacosa 2008’s, 2009’s are very disappointing vintages, relative to what has happened there since 1961…That’s one of the producers that I own the most of. I still have 1960’s Barolos and Barbarescos in my cellar of Giacosa, so I mean I know these wines really well, I’ve tasted them forever. But they had a really - I think coming out of it slowly - but they really had a rough patch there. I know ’08 and ’09, the wines were really disappointing and I wrote what I thought.”
Compound that with the upsurge of interest in the coming vintages in the Langhe, and who knows what kind of a place it will be for wine lovers and wine tourism in 10 or 20 years?
Again, from the recent podcast with Levi Dalton, Antonio Galloni shared his concerns about the Burgundization of Barolo, and the Langhe at large:
“What worries me is that Barolo might become the next Burgundy. Producers might become inaccessible, it’s harder to go now, producers travel more.”Tuscany has its share of elite wines for the super-rich, but it is large enough for folks without a million bucks in their checking account to obtain good wines and open doors. You can still sit with a winegrower at a kitchen table.
“But I don’t mean just in terms of the wine, I mean in terms of lack of access.”
“There are serious foreign groups - American, European, Asian, ex Italy - of course, looking to make investments in Italy, including the biggest luxury brand and mass market wines groups that you can think of. You name five of them, you’re going to get three right away, that are looking, right now, to buy vineyards in Piedmont. And that will change forever the economics of vineyard land in Piedmont. The local winemaking family can still afford to buy even top tier vineyards in Piedmont. You might have to get a loan, or securitize versus other assets that you have, but it’s still possible. But In five years, it won’t be possible. It’ll become like Burgundy where all the vineyards are slowly going to be owned by investors.”
|Roberto Voerzio having a little fun at Vinitaly|
Yesterday, I dropped into my local Italian wine shop to pick up a deli platter. In the wine section, I asked a well-dressed lady if I could help her. She said she was picking up a (6-pack) case of Vietti for her party that night. It so happened to be the 2010 Vietti Barolo “Ravera.” Antonio Galloni raved about this wine, writing:
“The 2010 Barolo Ravera is one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from Vietti. Stunning. It’s as simple as that. Freshly cut flowers, mint, spices, crushed rocks and pine jump from the glass in a vivid, crystalline wine endowed with captivating purity, clarity and finesse. The 2010 takes hold of the palate and never lets up, gaining body, breadth and volume over time. A breathtaking, perfumed finish rounds out the finish” 100/100 points.
|Someday, before they turn the lights out, I'd like to try a wine from my birth-year|
I’m not sure I will ever live long enough to taste the 2010 Ravera when it will be perfectly ready. And I’m sure most of this wine will be drunk long before maturity sets in. The good news is, these wines are easier to drink when young than the wines being produced 50 years ago. The bad news is, fewer and fewer of us will be able to know these pleasures, if the current sea change that is appearing in the Langhe continues and the Burgundization of Barolo is no less than a fait accompli.
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