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The year 2018 began with an exceptionally cold winter, followed by a wet and also too cool spring. Although this had the advantage that the water reserves in the soil were replenished somewhat after the extremely dry previous year, the precipitation was so heavy, especially at the end of May and beginning of June, that the vineyards were in part hardly accessible or not accessible at all - and certainly not drivable. Conditions subsequently became more favourable, and from mid-July onwards, stable high-pressure weather ensured a more relaxed ripening process. October also offered stable harvesting weather, so that the winegrowers were able to harvest their grapes without any hectic.
©Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani

In the Langhe, one speaks of a classic vintage or a winegrowers' year - both ciphers for a vintage that was rich in challenges and demanded a lot from the winegrowers. This is also evident in the wines, which cover the whole range of qualities and styles that Barolo has to offer. The best wines of the vintage are to be found above all on the more elegant side and thus rather among the traditionalists - even if the dividing line here is no longer as clear as it once was. At their best, they are complex, fine, deep and ideally already beguiling. However, many Barolos of the vintage also have a relatively brittle tannin, which is not always countered by enough ripe juice. At the other end of the scale, on the other hand, there are wines with plenty of alcoholic power, but only some of which have sufficient concentration and depth to achieve a good balance.

2018 is a vintage for which we advise caution as far as long storage is concerned. The great classics will have no problem with 20 or more years, and that although most of them taste irresistible even today. The majority of wines, on the other hand, will probably reach their best drinking phase in just a few years. Especially those with rather brittle tannins or a certain alcohol overhang are often said to need only enough time to harmonise. This has always been wishful thinking.

The best prerequisites for harmonious maturity are always those wines that are already in balance in their youth. They may not be in the majority in 2018, but they are certainly plentiful - and where everything is right, the wines are so delicious that you should definitely look out for them. The same goes for the best Riserve from the great 2016 vintage, which are also now on the market.

We tasted around 200 wines for this In Focus, of which we present the best here. Links to all the wines tasted with detailed descriptions as well as the producers can be found at the end of each of the best lists.

In FocusBarolo Vintage 2018