Sixteen collectors from the Hong Kong Wine Society had used the Accademia del Barolo’s Asta del Baroloas an excuse to spend a week in Alba. Their presence at the wine auction, plus a live video link for bidders in Hong Kong, raised the prospect that Barolo would soon follow Burgundy as the next collectible wine in China. In the end, the video bidding from Dubai and the Italians assembled at the Castello di Barolo closed on most of the lots. And those of us who can still afford a Barolo now and then got a momentary reprieve: Prices have not yet gone the way of Burgundy.
The best of the 2010s, tasted during the Auction lunch and in cellars around Barolo, make a strong argument that now is a good time to add some Barolo to your cellar. It is the first vintage in which the cru designations for Barolo become legally defined, with a new map officially delimiting each cru. Tasting at the Auction lunch with Luca Gardini and Adua Villa, two of Italy’s most photogenic and talented sommeliers, we kept going back to the rich, earth and violet-scented Brunate from Vietti, comparing it to the old-fashioned deliciousness of Pio Cesare’s 2010.
Luca Gardini and Adua Villa
Luca, who trained at Enoteca Pinchiorri before earning the Sommelier World Championship in 2010, soon launched into an impassioned speech on how Italian sommeliers need to get out more—tasting wines of the world, rather than just focusing on Italy. Adua, who is all over youtube, brought out a copy of her new book, “Vino Rosso Tacco 12”: On the cover, a pair of 12-inch heels, the negative space between them forming the shape of a bottle of Bordeaux.
Marco Berry and Luca Gardini
When it came time to auction off the two biggest charity lots, Gianni Gagliardo, the auction chair, called Luca up to the podium to rile up the crowd with auctioneer, television news reporter (and, evidently, famed magician) Marco Berry. The proceeds of one lot went to Collina degli Elfi, a charity based in Govone supporting children with cancer. Another went to Marco Berry Onlus, a group that brings magic to children in Somalia and other war- or poverty-stricken parts of Africa.
In the end, there were some bargains in old wine, including three 750 bottles of Bruno Giacosa Barolo (a 1964 and two 1970) that Luca Gardini grabbed for 800 euros, and three 750 bottles of Giacomo Conterno 1961 that sold for 1,700 euros. American collectors would be smart to get in on the video bidding, to lend some competition to the folks from Hong Kong and Dubai.