Listen, we have our personal biases.  In the wine business we are expected to reflect our professional outlook.  We are asked, even, to possess a bit of cunning... "invest in this, focus on that..."  The "Barolo Direct Import Offer" is my vacation from this every year. 

Due, in part, to the magic of Nebbiolo, in part to the world class growers and winemakers in our portfolio, and, of course, the natural environment of Northern Italy, when the growing season of 2017 carried some unusually warm weather and unpredictable rain, we read, we researched, and then we licked our chops as we prepared to taste and discover some of the most aromatic wines of the Modern Age.  To return to the Direct Import Offer, Please Click Here.

So, is there vintage variation year in and year out in Barolo and Barbaresco?  Of course.  And, thank GOODNESS.  Something can't be grown properly on a farm if it isn't subject to the weather.  This year, I am so very excited for all that 2017 delivered.  As I confess on a routine basis, I only know what I know.  In other words, my journey with fine wine has been the very same as yours, I imagine:  I get interested in a region or producer (or both!), I purchase as many bottles as I can get my hands on from as many vintages as are available then and in the future, and I take them home, pull the corks, and try to figure it out.  This happens over time, and just like any discipline, I build up a body of experience.  I start to remember the bottles I've drunk when I'm opening a fresh one.  I scaffold my experience(s)... it takes awhile.  And, it is DELICIOUS.

Last year, we had the pleasure of introducing many of you to these beloved wines in out portfolio with the highly acclaimed 2016 vintage.  Indeed, magnificent wines by any measure, and those bottles (I imagine) have brought you pleasure this past year...and, it is my hope that you've saved some, too...because, patience is rewarded in Barolo and Barbaresco.  To return to the Direct Import Offer, Please Click Here.

2016, when we spoke about it last year, carries that other-side-of-the coin too, doesn't it?  I had countless conversations about *when* to drink the wine...and how long to wait.  I love fresh wine...but, I confessed that many of the wines from 2016 really did ask of you to wait.  2017, much like 2015 (AROMA!) is unfolding to tell a different tale.  Will these wines age beautifully and bloom into some of the greats?  Absolutely.  If you had a special event in 2017 (a wedding, a birth of a child), should you purchase extra to commemorate in the future?  Absolutely.  On the other hand, can you misbehave and raid your cellar this upcoming Christmas to serve up something truly special with the roast...or, even to drink latenight by the holiday fire?  YES.  And, herein lies the magic of what I am most excited about this year: 2017 echoes 2015 (Henry's birth year - I bought a LOT - and, I've drunk a LOT of 2015) and what a marvelous thing it is to bear witness to a truly fine wine of such sublime *utility*... a wine for right now...a wine for 10 years from now...a wine for beyond. 

Because, while 2001, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2016 are some of the most *lauded* vintages in Northern Italy, I confess, that, if you got me in a box and pushed... yes, I confess, I'd talk, INSTEAD, a LOT about 2012 and 2014 and 2015. 

To flesh that out, 2012 was, on release, just so Mr.-Right-Now...and, yet, has proven to be so deliciously elegant (and still flashy) with some age.  Each passing day finds these wines deepening...almost as though they continue to ripen.  Indeed, a recent bottle of 2012 San Lorenzo from Alessandria represents a reawakening for our friend Thomas; weeks and weeks after I opened a '12 and '15 at dinner, the tasting of that wine together continues to inspire and beguile with an electric balance of powerful fruit, crunchy acidity and polished tannin.  We can't stop talking about it.

2014 was questioned by so many on release; the haters declared 'closed' aroma, short finish, etc.  Yikes did "they" get that wrong!  2014 is jussssst beginning her time in the sun... really special, structured , fruity wines that are just so darn delicious (while maintaining a hearty prettiness). 

And then there's 2015...a PLEASURE DELIVERY VEHICLE.  As I said above, I DRINK THEM CONSTANTLY.  And, they represented the backbone of our pop up supper at the house this week with Cantina del Pino as an organic opportunity to share some of my favorite wines with friends around my own dinner table.  And, smile we did.  Indeed, in just over a week, we host a similarly structured Alessandria pop-up supper...if you have tickets, prepare for a deep dive on 2014 and 2015.  To return to the Direct Import Offer, Please Click Here.

And, here we are.  Artisan Wines receives the largest allocation of these growers in the World.  After many years of our trusted collaboration, and constant support, our humble Shop, in turn, receives the largest allocation, as well.  That said, 2017 is an unusually *short* vintage with fewer bottles available across the board.  Aromatic sexy wines that deserve your immediate attention.  I propose we DIG IN.  Buy Early.  Buy Heavy.  As always, absurd discounts to the 'Early Bird.'  I am available to discuss; I am excited.  Let's run game, together.

-JZS, September 2021


In tasting, the 2017s are mid-weight Barolos with the classic structure of Nebbiolo. They are often intensely aromatic. Acids and tannins are prominent in many wines. The fruit profiles are ripe, often distinctly red-toned, but not cooked or over-ripe. Perhaps most importantly, the 2017 Barolos are very true to site, which is always a concern with vintages marked by warm weather. The best 2017s are exceptionally polished, vivid and flat-out delicious. If tasted blind, my guess is that few people would identify the wines as coming from a hot and very dry year. The question is: Why?
First and foremost, growers have learned a tremendous amount about dealing with hot growing seasons since 2003. This can’t possibly be overestimated. Producers are simply better at working through these challenges than they were back then. In 2017, that meant deleafing as little as possible and leaving a bit more crop on the vine, which helps delay ripening and keep acids bright. Several growers also spoke of the positive effects of hail netting in also protecting fruit from intense sunlight. Hail netting is not widely used in Piedmont, but that will likely change going forward.
From May through to the end of August, temperatures were higher than average, while rain was far less than normal. Importantly, though, evening temperatures moderated an important element that separates 2017 from relentlessly hot years like 2003. Heat stress was a big challenge, especially in younger vineyards. Older vines, those with the deepest root systems, were able to withstand the rigors of the year better. Ultimately, quality-minded producers used the younger vine fruit for their entry-level wines rather than for their top bottlings.
Most producers I spoke with opted for gentle winemaking, with lower temperatures in vinification. Some traditionally minded producers who do extended submerged cap fermentation opted not do to so in 2017, although that is very much on a case by case basis. Others bottled on the early side to preserve as much freshness as possible. Two thousand seventeen is clearly a vintage that demanded a lot of attention and carefully considered decisions.
Structurally, the 2017 Barolos are lighter than the 2016s. Excessive heat resulted in uneven ripening and wines with less depth and structure than seen the year prior. The perception of acidity and tannin in the 2017s is often high, precisely because the 2017s don’t have the mid- palate richness and fruit depth of the 2016s. With few exceptions, the 2017 Barolos are not rich or opulent wines, like the 2003s, 2007s or 2011s. Rather, they are mid-weight, nervy Barolos that are reminiscent of the 2015s in feel, with edgy tannins that recall the 2005s, and, in most cases, a great deal of site expression, as readers would expect to see in a more ‘classic’ vintage. The finest 2017s are distinguished by suave, polished tannins that are inside a core of fruit rather than on the outside.
- Antonio Galloni, February 2021
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