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Nebbiolo Prima: Barolo Outshines other Piemontese Wines

Posted: Friday, 10 June 2011 13:30

Nebbiolo Prima: Barolo Outshines other Piemontese Wines

June 10: After a recession hit in 2008-09 that brought down the sales of all Italian wines in 2009, the market looked up in 2010 and Barolo production made a jump of 36% , while there was an average increase of 17% according to the figures released by Mr. Pietro Ratti, President of the Consortium of Barolo, Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Roero last month at the ‘Nebbiolo Prima’, the annual event organized by the association of Albeisa producers for select journalists and importers, writes Subhash Arora.

A total of 11.27 million bottles of Barolo docg were bottled in 2010, compared to only 8.3 million in 2009 and 9.77 million in 2008. Barbaresco docg, a much smaller appellation usually makes slightly over a third of total Barolo production. The production of 3.52 million bottles in 2010 represents only a 15% increase over the previous year. Mr. Ratti said with a big smile that during the last quarter of 2010, sales of all Piemontese wines, including the higher valued Barolo and Barbaresco took a sudden jump, especially in the US market and it continued well into the first quarter, giving a ray of optimism to the producers who had a couple of tough years due to recession.

A total of 46.23 million bottles were produced in Toto last year as compared to 39.39 million in 2009 and 36.79 million in 2008-the increase in 2009 was due to higher production of lower cost  Barbera d’Alba and DOC Langhe appellations. 

The production of grapes remained steady with about 2% increase at 715.6 k quintals as compared to 700.7k quintals in 2009. Barolo and Barbaresco were almost same at around 133-134,000 quintals and 48,000 quintals respectively.

For the first time Barolo production crossed the 12 million mark with 12.15 million bottles produced in 2010 while 4.33 million bottles were produced for Barbaresco docg.

An interesting statistic for those oriented towards such figures was that 60% of the grapes were consumed by the wineries while 26% were sold in the market. The balance 14% was given for bottling.

As Mr. Ratti explained to the visitors, Piemonte vineyards were  scattered and producers fragmented with several growers having very small parcels of land and the concept of family wineries still quite prevalent, making export sales a difficult proposal for many.  For instance, Barolo denomination had 1827 hA of registered vineyards with  670 growers, bringing the average area per grower at barely 2.73 hA per family. Similarly Barbaresco with a surface area of 690 hA and 326 growers had an average area of 2.12 hA per family. This included a multitude of growers that had a small piece of land where they could not produce any wine but sold the small quantity of grapes they produced to wineries. Roero had only 197 hA of cultivation among 519 growers, making it a very fragmented segment.

While there were numerous grape growers, the bottlers were only 333. But a break-up of the bottles produced showed that 269 or 77.7% produced less than 60,000 bottles or 5000 cases (9-liters). There were only 4 producers that bottled between 1-2 million bottles (83,000-166,000 cases) and only one that produced 2-5 million bottles, a category where Sula, India’s leading producer would fall.

Nebbiolo Prima was the event organized annually in May, to give an opportunity to the target group a taste of Barolo docg 2007, which by regulation could be released only on January1,  2011 but several producers have still not released as it is in the bottles awaiting proper maturing. Similarly Barbaresco docg 2008 and Roero docg 2008 were tasted during 5 days of tasting in which around 400 wines were tasted with the option to taste them blind. There was nothing exceptionally different except that Barolo 2007 looked like it would mature earlier than 2006 which will have a longer life too.

The small and fragmented size means that branding is quite a problem for several producers making quality wines. That is why a majority of the producers had to buckle under the market pressure in 2008-2010 to significantly lower their prices which had been escalating unabated, according to many importers.  Confirming the trend, Angelo Gaja the iconic Barbaresco producer who also experienced  fall in sales during the last 2 years said, ‘our philosophy is pull-oriented sales while many of the smaller producers have to follow the push type of sales. We did not bring our prices down but worked harder to improve the pull factor by organizing more events and marking our presence felt more.’ He added that since October – November 2010, there had been a sudden surge in demand. ‘Although we may not yet reach the peak of 2007, we are optimistic that the increasing trend will continue,’ he added.

The recession may have been a bonanza for the consumers. Several high quality wines from the region have been available at much lower prices-sometimes even 30-40% cheaper. With the age-worthiness of the wines-Barolo is not really drinkable before a decade and Barbaresco is ready a couple of years earlier - it may be the right time to look for good deals and stock up for the next 5-10 years. Both 2006 and 2007 for Barolo and 2007 and 2008 for Barbaresco are excellent vintages for future storage. Roero docg red wines are generally much lower priced wines and offer good value-for-money alternatives.

Subhash Arora



Subhash Arora Says:


None. Subhash Arora

Posted @ August 01, 2016 11:15


S Acharya Says:

Which red wine brands in India have Nebbiolo grapes????

Posted @ August 01, 2016 10:00


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