New Vintage: Piedmont’s striking and seductive 2012s
Is there a more addictive and fascinating wine landscape than Piedmont? Not as far as this buying team is concerned.
Tasting the new 2012 vintages from Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero, far exceeded our expectations. We were struck by how attractive and beautifully-structured the wines were. They have the most wonderful perfumed, sweet, fresh fruit character, set in a slender but classic tannic frame. These wines are powerful but neither too austere nor heavy, abound with fragrance and energy. Like all very good Nebbiolo they have the structure to age 10-15 years, but their ripeness of fruit and open character will make them enjoyable relatively young. Producers, be it traditional or modern, are more rigorous and enthusiastic in their work than ever before. Production is smaller than in Burgundy and vineyard intricacies potentially more complex. Piedmont’s time has most definitely come.
Winter was severe, by the end of January the mercury had dropped to minus 20, but mercifully there were not too many vine casualties. In spring rains affected flowering, but at worst 15% of the crop was lost at this early stage. By contrast mid-summer became hot, very hot. So much so that vines started to stress. Some localised hail struck in July but did not cause too much concern. Rains fell at the end of August and beginning of September, marking a return to “a more typical autumn season, characterised by strong day and night temperature differences - the best conditions for ripening Nebbiolo and giving it perfume,” Giorgio of Paolo Conterno. In the end the wines, elegant and fresh, are characterised by the cooler September weather more than the midsummer heat, though they nonetheless boast an undeniably seductive sweetness of fruit. So hear, hear to the words of Vietti’s Mario Cordero “we love this vintage, it's fresher than 2011, very fine and elegant, perhaps it’s up and down in parts but with all of the usual serious producers, it’s unquestionably a very good vintage.”