Festa del Barolo Super Saturday 2019

What’s not to love about Piemonte. The breathtaking scenery, the incredible food, friendly people and most importantly the home of the greatest wines in Italy. What’s more we are living in the greatest epoch in this region’s storied history. At no time before have the wines delivered so much pleasure, value and excitement.

Of course in the hierarchy of Piemonte there’s little doubt that the undisputed heavyweight champion is Barolo and to a lesser degree Barbaresco. But, there’s more in them there hills than the double-B communes! As these stars of the region have risen so too have the prices and the scarcity, which in turn has meant that so-called lesser varieties and sub-zones have improved their game in order to catch the priced-out and adventurous consumer. I speak of indigenous varieties like Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa, Timorasso and more. Moreover, the emergence of quality categories Langhe Rosso, Nebbiolo d’Alba – often from established star producers – has meant that those consumers coming to the “party” for the first time can experience the flavour, aromatic and structural profiles without breaking the credit card.

This offer showcases a handful of Baroli and Barbaresci but more than anything it brings to center stage the “peripheral players” of sub-zone, category and variety that are creating so much excitement for the consumer. In doing this we have assembled some of the greatest names in the world of Piemonte wine. GD Vajra, Veglio, Alessandria, E. Pira Chiara Boschis, A&G Fantino, Benevelli, Trediberri, Rizzi, Domenico Clerico, Matteo Correggia, Bruno Rocca,  Luciano Sandrone, Massolino, Cascina Morassino, and Pio Cesare are just some of the names represented. It is a dream team of producers with something for everyone in terms of budget and flavour profile.

The 2019 Festa del Barolo is over and as a member of the organising committee, I have to say it was the best yet!

Over seven days gallons of Barolo and other Langhe hills varieties were slurped and swallowed and the love for the region’s wines has grown again in the eyes of existing devotees but we’ve undoubtedly picked up even more converts along the way. I’ve said before but it’s worth reiterating, the Langhe must be the quality capital of the wine world at the moment.

As is our tradition, we like to put out a short recap of our hit list of the Festa Saturday tasting. Over 60 wines were on tasting and if you weren’t in attendance then an offer on email can be a little daunting when trying to make sense of what you should add to the cellar. So, below is my hit list of the best of the best wines shown on the day. This year I have also combined this with the biggest selling wines so you can see what the punters thought was worthy of their hard earned. There are many common wines to both lists and as a general comment the wines across the board were of exemplary quality.





(* denotes common to both lists ** indicates it is just on MM’s list)

I can’t emphasise enough how impressive a set of wines we showed on the weekend. This list is a mix of my own picks and those chosen by the punters on Saturday. Most wines listed are common to both with a couple of exceptions. I was looking at it just now and thinking, you couldn’t put together a better Piemontese mixed dozen if you tried so I would consider this a great mixed dozen for those who want to line the cellar. The extra 5% off doesn’t hurt either!

Gianfranco Barolo 2015 –
$72 (*)
As so many critics have written over the years, Alessandria is an under-the-radar star of Barolo. The 2015 is another cracking wine.

Mauro Veglio Angelo 2017
$40 (*)
Always a great value but a better wine this year for the inclusion of Roero fruit which adds a softer texture and more vibrant fruit. A great way to get into Nebbiolo without shelling out big money.

Rocche Costamagna Rocche dell’Annunziata 2013
$80 (*)
An out-and-out bargain. A “Grand Cru” site from a great producer for a commune Barolo price.

Ca Viola Dolcetto 2015
$35 (*)
Beppe Ca Viola proves again how great he is with variety. In his hands it transcends the ordinary. A must buy and as Antonio Galloni notes in his review: Don’t miss it!

Burlotto Barbera d’Alba Aves 2016 – $44 (**)
You know what they say: producer, producer producer! Burlotto never puts a foot wrong. What a superb Barbera and well and truly worth grabbing. As Galloni says: what a gorgeous wine this is!

Varja Rosso 2017$29 (*)
I don’t think there is ever a year when this wine doesn’t feature as a people’s pick. The ultimate wine to intro the wines from this region without breaking the budget. 

La Ca Nova Barbaresco 2016
$68 (*)
Few producers have made better wines in 2016. Fragrant, balanced and batting above its station. A bargain.

Albino Rocca Rosso 2017
$32 (*)
Albino Rocca have been a roll for a few years now. They make characterful wines that balance the vibrancy of primary fruit without dumbing it down. Complimenti!

Renato Ratti Langhe Neb 2016
One of the legendary estates of the Langhe Hills and a Langhe Nebbiolo that transcends with extra depth and weight to the normal offering from many producers. You pay a little more but clearly the crowd Saturday thought it was worth the extra coin.

Marchesi di Gresy Langhe Nebbiolo 2017 – $49 (*)
The wines from this famed Barbaresco producer are notable for their lithe, feminine and balanced personality. I loved this again on the weekend.

Cascina Luisin Barbaresco Rabaja 2014$107 (*)
Another great wine from this ultra-consistent producer and from one of the greatest vineyards in the zone. A measure of its quality was the fact it sold well despite topping the ton dollar-wise.

Piero Benevelli Barolo Ravera 2015$80 (**)
It wouldn’t be a Festa Hot Picks without a Benevelli wine. This year it was the stupidly affordable cru Barolo Ravera. If you know anything about the wines from this guy and the vineyard hierarchy then you should be laying this in by the case.

We hope you enjoy.

Michael McNamara