Barolo is one of the great red wines of the world, but it’s actually fairly young as great wines go: Prior to the mid-1800s, most Piedmontese wines made from the Nebbiolo grape were sweet—“about as sweet as the silky Madeira,” Thomas Jefferson commented—and thus not at all like the dry, tannic, long-aging wine we know now.
Single-vineyard cru Barolos are an even more recent phenomenon, starting with a 1961 Vietti Barolo from the Rocche di Castiglione vineyard, the 50th anniversary vintage of which has just been released. As Luca Currado, Vietti’s owner and winemaker, recalls, “1960 was the year my grandfather passed away, and my father, who’d made many trips to Burgundy, decided to make a single-cru vinification [in his honor]. The DNA of the idea of terroir was always in our family—we’d been buying vineyards with the idea of great crus for some time.”
About the newly released 2011 vintage overall, Currado says, “It has part of the opulence of 2009, and some of the great acidity and finesse of 2010. You could say it’s like 2010 but with more muscles.”