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A survey of our rather expert group, currently visiting in Piedmont, yielded the same response from everyone: the winemaker trumps the vineyard, and the vintage. Can you imagine a history of the last 50 years of wine in Piedmont that doesn't put Bruno Giacosa at the top, or at least in the top 2? There's no doubt that (as with chefs and artists of all kinds) great winemakers exist, and that their work stands above most of their peers. So goes the old saw: good winemakers make good wine, regardless of the vintage.
Burlotto proves this in 2012, a year that in the right hands has produced some very good wines. There is a lot of variability in quality, from commune to commune, and from one winemaker to the next, but if you pick the right producer you will find harmonious and elegant wines with more finesse than the denser 2011s. They may mostly not be for the long term, but we can all appreciate wine that we don't have to wait a couple of decades to drink at its peak. And Burlotto is moving from strength to strength, making wine that, while it naturally reflects vintage character, far transcends it to offer, as usual, transparent expressions of great terroir. Jamie Wolff
Really quite a lovely Barolo, not powerful but (for lack of a more original metaphor) quite feminine; "Barbaresco-like", says one of our group, and it makes sense. The tannins are very fine-grained and elegant, and the overall impression is of a wine that's beautifully balanced. This will probably be quite easy and pleasurable to drink young. Jamie Wolff
Meaning "steep", Acclivi is a blend of fruit from 3 vineyards in Verduno (Monvigliero, Neirane, and Rocche dell'Olmo). As always, in 2012 Acclivi is a big step-up from the Barolo in concentration and structure, and it's a considerably more demanding and sophisticated wine. There are complex aromatics of dark fruit, orange peel, quinine; the tannins suggest that this may need the most time to develop of Burlotto's 2012s. A really classic wine. Jamie Wolff
Burlotto's Monvigliero is famous in part because of its very old-fashioned 90-day maceration in wood; what's interesting to the non-scientific mind is that it's much more elegant and silky than many other wines that see much shorter maceration - somehow the extended process yields a super-elegant wine. Aromatically savory and herbal (but not green), with distinct notes of quinine and orange peel, the wine is very fresh and long. As usual a remarkable wine. Jamie Wolff
The Cannubi 2012 is my favorite Burlotto Cannubi to date (I am very much a Monvigliero partisan in any case). It's a lovely expression - light to medium bodied, with beautiful light fruit and a fine chalky tannin. Perhaps not a blockbuster, but a very classic wine. Jamie Wolff