It’s a bit hard to comprehend that a year ago I was in a throng of New Yorkers and Piedmontese Italians celebrating the release of the recent vintage from Piedmont. Wandering around a Midtown event center tasting Nebbiolo with a bunch of folks in the wine industry seems like a luxury from a distant reality much more removed than twelve months from today. Had the event occurred even a week or two later, it well could have been a super spreader event. As it is, most of us escaped by the skin of our wine-darkened teeth, and are left with what, for me, are among the last normal memories of the Time-Before-COVID.

And of course, I ended up with some tasting notes for some really excellent wines that I’m long-overdue for sharing with readers. We are now living in the age of the long overdue, it seems.

The event in question was the Barolo and Barbaresco World Opening, a first-of-its-kind marketing premiere of the recent vintages from the region, which also had as a focus telling the story of the region’s MeGA (Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive), the term used to indicate single-vineyard bottlings. In conjunction with the event, famed Italian cartographer, Alessandro Masnaghetti released his updated maps and encyclopedia of both regions featuring… wait for it… MeGA detail.

Two Excellent Vintages

For the most part, everyone was pouring the 2015 and 2016 vintages, though there were a few random older wines sprinkled about the room and a few 2017 Barbarescos on offer. Both the 2015 and 2016vintages were excellent and largely untroubled by the hail issues that plagued the region in 2012 and 2014.

July in 2015 proved quite hot, but by all accounts, most growers dealt with the heat well, and near-perfect (read: cooler) harvest conditions gave vintners the opportunity to ensure they showcased their best fruit in their wines from this slightly smaller-than-usual crop.

With a later bud-break and flowering than the year prior, thanks to a cool spring, 2016 thereafter proved to be a Goldilocks of a vintage (barring a small bit of hail damage in a couple of spots) building to a warmer-than-usual harvest season and resultant wines that some are calling the best made since the equally acclaimed 2010 vintage.

I don’t taste Piedmont wines comprehensively or regularly enough to speak very authoritatively about the vintages, beyond characterizing them as I have, but I found many wines to like from both, and feel like Nebbiolo lovers can’t go wrong purchasing either from known producers.

Here are my favorites of the wines I tasted in that other era, when milling about in a crowd was not a particularly foolish thing to do. The wines are listed in descending order by score, and a number of them were tasted blind at a seated tasting earlier that same day (look for the tasting notes with better grammar).

Tasting Notes

2013 Oddero “Bussia Vigna Mondoca” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine is wonderfully floral and citrusy on the nose, while in the mouth, exceptionally fine-grained tannins flex their athletic muscles to grip wonderfully citrus and bright berry flavors tinged with dried flower petals. Gorgeous, poised, and shimmering on the palate, this wine is entering its prime and will likely develop and improve for the next 5 years at least. Incredibly compelling and delicious. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $125. click to buy.

2016 Pertinace “Marcarini” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine has a wonderfully floral berry nose, with hints of herbs. In the mouth, strawberry and herbs, and notes of flower petals are draped in a taut blanket of tannins. Notes of incense and leather emerge on the finish leaving a citrus-peel snap in the end. Excellent acidity and length. Outstanding. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2015 Fratelli Alessandria “Monvigliero” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in color, this wine has an earthy nose of berries and a touch of leather. In the mouth, cherry, earth, and citrus are bound up by tightly wound tannins, which maintain a firm grip through a long, beautifully balanced finish with citrus and incense notes. Fantastic and elegant, and likely to improve over a decade or more. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2013 Fratelli Revello “Conca” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy

Medium garnet in color, this wine has an intense nose of smoky red fruit. In the mouth, cherry, smoke, citrus, and dried herbs are beautifully bright thanks to fantastic acidity. Gorgeously balanced with tight tannins that grip the palate through the very long finish. Outstanding and quite ageworthy. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2016 Renato Ratti “Rocche dell’Annunziata” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of strawberries and a touch of oak. In the mouth, the wood fades to the background letting gorgeously bright and juicy fruit and remarkably restrained, powdery tannins swirl across the palate. Fantastic acidity and impressive length. Juicy and delicious and surprisingly accessible in its youthful state. Highly recommended. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $120. click to buy.

2017 Giovanni Sordo Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in the glass with a bare hint of orange this wine smells of dried flowers and strawberries. In the mouth, intensely bright juicy strawberry and dried herb flavors have a wonderful dynamism and brightness with gorgeous balance and length, fine tannins, great finesse. Outstanding. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2014 Marchesi di Barolo “Sarmassa” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet strawberry and cherry. In the mouth, plush tannins caress juicy and bright citrus and berry flavors. Fine-grained tannins are wonderfully supple, and sweet berry fruit lingers in the finish. Quite lovely. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2016 Marcarini “La Serra” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in the glass with orange highlights at the rim, this wine smells of sweet floral notes layered on top of berry fruit. In the mouth, plush, almost velvety tannins wrap around a core of juicy berry fruit tinged with herbs and dried flowers. Excellent. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2013 Paitin “Serraboella Sori’Paitin” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy

Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of berries, herbs, and rose petals. In the mouth, tight, muscular tannins wrap around wonderfully floral and herbal notes of strawberries and cherry. Notes of dried herbs linger in the finish. Excellent acidity. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2015 Pecchenino “Bussia” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color with orange at the rim, this wine smells of herbs and citrus peel, and red fruits. In the mouth, dried berries and strawberry fruit is wrapped in tight tannins that are gorgeously supple, and excellent acidity lends a stony quality to this wine. Elegant as hell with lovely citrus notes lingering in the finish. Excellent. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2015 Réva “Ravera” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a slightly shy nose of berries and herbs and dried flowers. Those aromas blossom, though, on the palate with tight citrusy berry fruit and dried herbs tightly wound up with firm tannins. Fantastic acidity, but this wine needs some time to open up. Give it 5 to 10 and watch it sing. Beautiful citrus notes in the finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $90. click to buy.

2015 Gaja “Sperss” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of red fruit with floral overtones. In the mouth, velvety tannins cushion flavors of cherry and strawberry shot through with dried flower petals. Good acidity and surprisingly supple tannins. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $280. click to buy.

2012 Luciano Sandrone “Cannubi Boschis” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in the glass with some purple highlights, this wine has wonderfully floral aromas of strawberries and herbs. In the mouth, plush tannins caress strawberry fruit and wonderfully juicy citrus peel acidity. The tannins tighten over time and linger through a very long finish. Excellent and built for the long haul. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $140. click to buy.

2015 Produttori del Barbaresco “Ovello” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color, this wine has a snappy berry and dried flowers aroma. In the mouth, powdery tannins wrap, tendril-like around a core of beautifully floral berries as notes of leather and citrus emerge in the finish. A classic expression of Nebbiolo, beautifully structured and balanced. Excellent. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $100. click to buy.

2016 Pietro Rinaldi “San Cristoforo” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and strawberry. In the mouth, the wine is quite stony, with cherry and strawberry fruit crisp and zippy thanks to excellent acidity. A tight fist of tannins gradually squeezes the core of fruit but leaves citrus and strawberries lingering in the long finish. Fantastic, and even more so at this reasonable tariff. Highly recommended. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2016 Tenuta Montanello “Montanello” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of the classic tar and roses notes of Barolo. In the mouth, fantastic acidity lifts flavors of raspberry and cherry to wonderful heights, and notes of dried herbs and dried flowers mix with a touch of aniseed and dried citrus peel in the finish. Excellent tight powdery tannins. A lovely wine. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70.

2017 Armando Piazzo Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Bright light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of berry fruit and flower petals. In the mouth, juicy bright strawberry and floral flavors have great intensity and length with powdery but muscular tannins. Citrus notes enter the finish. Delicious, fresh thanks to fantastic acidity and quite compelling. Highly recommended. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2015 Marziano Abbona “Ravera” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of a hint of barnyard layered over florals and fruit. In the mouth, cherry and strawberry fruit flavors are juicy and balanced by some nice dried herbal notes. Restrained but muscular tannins put a squeeze on the palate as excellent acidity keeps going through a long finish. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2015 Aurelio Settimo “Rocche dell’Annunziata” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of manure, with notes of citrus and berry. In the mouth, however, the wine is more fruit than barnyard, though there is that leathery quality to the wine along with a deep earthiness. Putty-like tannins and very good acidity. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2012 Punset “San Cristoforo Campo Quadro” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of bacon fat and barnyard. In the mouth, earthy and herbal flavors of strawberry and cherry lean towards the savory as dried herbs linger through the finish. Score: around 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2016 Ratti “Rocche dell’Annunziata” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of bright floral fruit. in the mouth, juicy raspberry and coffee flavors have fine tannins draped over them that flex as the wine finishes with a hint of citrus peel and dried herbs. Solid, with excellent acidity but perhaps slightly over polished for me? Score: around 9. Cost: $112. click to buy.

2016 Roccheviberti “Rocche di Castiglione” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of new oak. In the mouth, wonderfully juicy flavors of berry and herb and earth have excellent acidity and brightness with a citrusy character. A more modern Barolo but with well-managed tannins and very pretty fruit. Score: around 9. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2016 Fratelli Giacosa “Vigna Mandorlo Scarrone” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in the glass with a hint of brick, this wine smells of rose petals and a touch of asphalt. In the mouth juicy berry and slightly saline flavors of strawberry dried herbs and incense have powdery drying tannins and a wonderful savory character, excellent acidity and length, with a very nice elegance. Score: around 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.

2016 Livia Fontana “Villero” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Very light in color — a light ruby with bricking on the edges, this wine smells of orange peel and dried berries. In the mouth, delicate flavors of flower petals and berries have a fine-grained, silky tannin and elegant subtlety. Not as intense as it could be but very accessible for its youth. Tasty, but drink sooner than later. Score: around 9. Cost: $136. click to buy.

2016 Giovanni Rosso “Cerretta” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nice floral aroma, with bright berries underneath. In the mouth, juicy strawberry and cherry flavors are supple and plush with nicely restrained tannins, but the wine is also missing some acidity to give it a good kick. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.

2016 Palladino “Parafada” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of berries and herbs with a hint of barnyard. In the mouth, wonderful flavors of citrusy strawberries and cherries are bright with acidity and balanced by a hint of funk. Tight muscular tannins grip the palate. Built for the long haul, but quite tasty now. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2015 Pio Cesare Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of leather and smoky berries. In the mouth, strawberry and cherry flavors are smoky and earthy with lovely dried herb notes that linger in the finish. Very good acidity. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $80 . click to buy.

2015 G.D. Vajra “Bricco delle Viole” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dark fruits and smoky earth. In the mouth, cherry and strawberry fruit is juicy and shot through with the scent of leather and a touch of woodsmoke. Leathery tannins, decent acidity. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2016 Fratelli Revello “Gattera” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of nutty incense and dried flowers. In the mouth, cherry and strawberry flavors have a bright generosity to them but less dynamism and complexity as I would like. Less acidity, too. Shorter finish, fine tannins. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $42. click to buy.

2016 Mario Olivero “Bricco Ambrogio” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of darker fruits, black cherry, and cedar. In the mouth, the wine is polished with fine-grained tannins and smoky herb and fruit flavors with great acidity and nice length. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??.

2016 Cavallotto “Bricco Boschis” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium to dark ruby in the glass, this wine smells of smoky berry and dried flowers. In the mouth, strawberry and cherry flavors are nestled under a fleecy blanket of tannins, with hints of lavender and other cooking herbs that linger in the finish with a touch of citrus peel. Excellent acidity. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $80. click to buy.

2017 Vite Colte “La Casa in Collina” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color, this wine smells of dusty road and berries and sawdust. In the mouth bright sour cherry and strawberry flavors mix with cedar and earthy dust. Great acidity, fine powdery tannins. Possesses quite admirable savory qualities. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $140. click to buy.

2017 Musso “Bricco Rio Sordo” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color, this wine smells of bright strawberry and sour cherry fruit. In the mouth, bright sour cherry, raspberry, and strawberry fruit flavors are wrapped in a tight skein of tannins. Juicy acidity and nice length. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2011 Batasiolo “Boscareto” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color this wine smells of struck match, citrus peel, and raisins. In the mouth, ripe strawberry and raisiny flavors are wrapped in a tight fist of tannins but the fruit has a nice purity and enough acidity to keep the riper flavors from being flat. Long finish. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2016 Negretti “Bricco Ambrogio” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby in color with a bit of orange at the rim, this wine smells of exotic woods and incense. In the mouth flavors of oak mix with Chinese herbs and red fruits mixed with a touch of fig and caramel. The oak is a bit too strong for me in this wine, but it is well balanced otherwise. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2016 Cavalier Bartolomeo “Altenasso” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color, this wine smells slightly of struck match smokiness and berries and herbs. In the mouth, drying tannins suck the moisture out of the mouth and make it a little harder to concentrate on berry and herb flavors that take on a slightly saline quality. But for the aggressive wood tannins, this would be a very nice wine. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2016 Rosoretto “Parussi” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color, this wine smells of rose petals and herbs with a touch of sulfur and oak. In the mouth, the oak influence makes itself felt in the form of drying tannins and a toasty quality that somewhat obscures some pretty berry fruit and herbal notes. But good acidity and nice fruit underneath it all. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??.

2016 Oddero “Rocche di Castiglione” Barolo, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry and dried flowers. In the mouth, muscular tannins close in a tight fist around flavors of strawberry, cherry, and dried herbs with notes of road dust. Good acidity and length, with a touch of sour cherry in the finish. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.

2017 Taliano Michele “Montersino Ad Altiora” Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Medium ruby in color with a hint of brick, this wine smells of berries and flower petals. In the mouth intense berry and incense and floral notes are backed by fine, powdery but drying tannins. Good acidity but slightly hollow on the mid-palate. Still, quite flavorful. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2017 Ricossa Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light to medium ruby with an orange rim, this wine smells of sweet oak and red berries. In the mouth, oak and cherry and strawberry flavors have a drying wood tannin quality. Good flavors and decent acidity but too much new oak for my taste. Decent finish. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2017 Bera Barbaresco, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Med ruby with a hint of orange, this wine smells of berry and a touch of oak and dusty road. In the mouth, decent acidity enlivens flavors of red berries and a hint of sour cherry. A touch of bitter dry herbs lingers on the finish. Offers a somewhat creamy complexion. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30.