Home Winners > Winners 2016 > ITALY: North-West Reds, including Barolo & Barbaresco

Winner Details

Italy: North-West - Red, including Barolo & Barbaresco

2016 Gold: 7 Silver: 8 Bronze: 2 Commended: 11
2015 Gold: 4 Silver: 7 Bronze: 4 Commended: 7

When the Sommelier Wine Awards started 10 years ago, this section of the competition was typically all about the bling of Barolo and Barbaresco. But this year we saw a double whammy – a good showing from the two five-star appellations, as well as a lot of positive feedback for the bits of Lombardy and Piedmont that are less well known.

Interestingly, our pricing clichés were turned on their head in this year’s competition. Sure, there were plenty of expensive Barolos and Barbarescos, but there were also some really good examples at ‘how-do-they-do-that?’ prices, not least the Dezzani, which could squeak on to a wine list at £40 if you were feeling generous.

The other north-western reds, meanwhile, which usually fill the ‘amazing-character-for-the-money’ slot, were generally about 10% more expensive than we’re used to seeing. Tellingly, not one of our medal-winning wines was under £10, making these lesser-known styles even more of a hand-sell.

Hearteningly, while this part of Italy clearly isn’t cheap, our tasters really liked what they saw across the board – seven Golds is one of its best-ever performances – and the ‘no fruit, too much tannin’ complaints of last year never materialised in 2016. A region worth exploring.


‘Overall, the Barolos were a strong flight, with good expressions of Nebbiolo at fair prices… We’re seeing increased interest from consumers. We have one on by the glass, and despite the price, people go for it.’ Nausicaa Rotoloni, Roka Mayfair

‘The customer won’t be familiar with these wines, so you have to hand-sell them. But that’s our job as sommeliers, to try and promote stuff like this.’ Carlos Ferreira, The Sign of the Don

‘North-west Italy used to be a great place for value for money; wines with a bit of fun and elegance for under £40 on a list. We got a few of those at the right price points, but it got over that level pretty quickly.’ Laura Rhys MS, team leader.

‘The quality [of the non-Barolo flight] was very good. They all had good structure – whether as food wines or for easy drinking. From ham at the lighter end, through pork to game, there were plenty of options.’ Tamas Czinki, Northcote

‘I loved the fact that nothing was sanitised – that volatility and meatiness. They were proudly Italian. Good on them!’ James Fryer, Portland

‘Barolo is a classic – it works better in England than Barbaresco; it’s better known.’ Victor Amaro, Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells

“The price has gone up in the last 5 to 10 years. Barolo is the new Burgundy.” Enikő Heidenwolf, 67 Pall Mall

“The north-west is known for Barolo and Barbaresco, which need a lot of time. These other reds are more approachable – which makes them useful for wine lists.” Michael Fiducia, Drake’s Restaurant

FOOTNOTE: Includes wines from Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Piedmont & Liguria.

Award winners

Found 28 wines

Italy: North-west reds, including Barolo & Barbaresco

Nera, Sforzato di Valtellina 2009, Lombardy, Italy

Gold medal winner

A complex array of flavours, according to an impressed Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don: 'Eucalyptus, mint, pine, lots of tannins on the palate with tobacco, tomato, green and black pepper notes, fine complexity with a really good finish.' Avenue Restaurant's Andrés Ituarte agreed: 'Showing some age, this has notes of black tea and violets. Dense red berry fruit marries well with the tannin structure and balanced body.'

£22.71 Alivini

Dezzani, Stardé, Barbaresco 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Gold medal winner

Great value and good food-matching potential took Dezzani's Barbaresco to the top. 'Dried fruit and attractive notes of sour cherry on the nose, with leather and spice,' began Charles Van Wyk of FJB Collection, continuing: 'Vibrant acidity with ripe, well-integrated tannins. Wonderful for a starting-point Nebbiolo.' Team leader Annette Scarfe MW agreed, saying: 'Lovely example showing roses and petals with red fruit. A more feminine style.' Match with steak and much more.

£12.36 Eurowines

Anna Maria Abbona, Barolo 2011, Piedmont, Italy

Gold medal winner

A star in the traditional style, this is long and complex with perfumed notes on the nose and a slightly gamey palate. 'Firm yet poised. Elegant. An iron fist in a velvet glove,' said team leader Annette Scarfe MW. 'Slightly shy at first on the nose, but gains in complexity as it evolves in the glass,' began Nausicaa Rotoloni of Roka Mayfair, continuing: 'Displays mushroom and leathery characteristics on the palate, with good tannin balance and acidity.'

£22.50 Moreno Wines

Cascina Ballarin, Bricco Rocca, Barolo 2009, Piedmont, Italy

Gold medal winner

'A fantastic, traditional example of Barolo, showing evolution, with its garnet rim,' said team leader Annette Scarfe MW, advising decanting because it's 'still very big'. First noting this wine's 'lovely orange-brick colour', Enikő Heidenwolf of 67 Pall Mall said: 'Old-fashioned, very ripe with a velvety texture on the palate and well-integrated tannins.' 'Structured and complex with silky concentration, a superb expression of Nebbiolo,' added FJB Collection's Charles Van Wyk.

£35.35 Jascots Wine Merchants

GD Vajra, Barbera d'Alba Superiore 2013, Piedmont, Italy

Gold medal winner

'Super-depth on this long-lasting, exquisite wine,' said Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs, pinpointing 'notes of chocolate, mocha, rose and violet'. 'Initially very fruit-forward, but with a good, grippy finish,' continued Chris Wood of Chelsea Vintners, with team leader Laura Rhys MS adding: 'Bright, juicy dark fruits, elegant with some punchy but integrated oak.'

£12.95 Liberty Wines

Nino Negri, 5 Stelle, Sfursat di Valtellina 2013, Lombardy, Italy

Gold medal winner

'Very seductive,' began Avenue Restaurant's Andrés Ituarte, highlighting what propelled Nino Negri's wine to Gold: 'Big oak notes, ripe red fruits and vanilla and coconut notes.' 'Beautiful, smooth palate, with a style reminiscent of ripasso,' added Chris Wood of Chelsea Vintners, continuing: 'The length is extraordinary, almost endless.' 'Menthol, cherry fruit, liquorice, a good food wine,' added Ian Howard of The White Hart Inn at Lydgate.

£40.00 Enotria&Coe

Olim Bauda, Nizza, Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Gold medal winner

Full bodied and well integrated, a stylish addition to the Gold List. 'Ripe, desnse fruit that stays pure, with big tannins that are well integrated and a long finish,' said an approving Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant. 'Earthy aromas with floral notes and dark red fruits, juicier red and purple fruits on the palate, a touch of meaty extraction and chalky, drying tannins,' added Portland's James Fryer.

£19.50 Alliance Wine

Costaripa, Campostarne, Valtènesi 2013, Lombardy, Italy

Silver medal winner

'Elegant style with good balance and structure, and very good length,' began Chris Wood of Chelsea Vintners, while Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don found 'spicy-sour body and red fruits'.

£10.16 Alivini

Cascina Castlet, Passum, Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2011, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

Team leader Tom Forrest noted 'aniseed and herbs on the nose, soft cherry and currant fruits in a juicy style with sweet spice on a ripe finish', while Northcote's Tamas Czinki added: 'A more earthy style, warm fruit and spices with balanced structure.'

£17.75 Alivini

Cascina Castlet, Policalpo, Monferrato Rosso 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

'Showing a little volatility on the nose, but also spices, crushed green herbs and red fruit,' began Northcote's Tamas Czinki, concluding: 'Good structure with fresh acidity on the palate, which is well balanced and long.' 'Medium bodied with tight tannins, a good woody structure and savoury spices,' added Avenue Restaurant's Andrés Ituarte.

£15.09 Alivini

Mamete Prevostini, Grumello, Valtellina Superiore 2012, Lombardy, Italy

Silver medal winner

Michael Fiducia of Drake's Restaurant found a 'concentrated nose of dried fruits and rose petals with spices on a dry palate and a leathery finish', while Portland's James Fryer also noted 'strawberry, raspberry, tar and roses, with red apple hints and chalky tannins'.

£13.75 Berkmann Wine Cellars

San Silvestro, Patres, Barolo 2011, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

'Heady spice aromas with perfumed red berries,' began Victor Amaro of Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells, continuing: 'Silky texture on the palate, with cherry fruit, good depth and a pleasant finish.' 'Initially shows a leathery character, but on second taste the evolution is more complex,' added Nausicaa Rotoloni of Roka Mayfair.

£16.54 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Massolino, Parussi, Barolo 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

Still a baby in Barolo terms. Bar 44's Owen Morgan said: 'Excellent wine, but needs cellaring.' 'Shows a complex richness of tobacco and tar notes, juicy and intense on the palate, and young overall,' said team leader Andrea Briccarello.

£45.00 Liberty Wines

Cascina Ballarin, Pilade, Barbera d'Alba 2014, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

'Easy-drinking, fruity red with red fruits and green herbs on the nose and hints of liquorice spice,' said Northcote's Tamas Czinki, who suggested it would make a 'perfect house wine'. Portland's James Fryer found 'juicy purple florals with slightly oxidative notes, apple and nice velvet tannins'.

£10.65 Jascots Wine Merchants

Bava, Stradivario, Barbera d'Asti 2009, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

'Juicy purple fruits, soft velvet tannins with some leathery, meaty notes on the palate,' began Portland's James Fryer, with Michael Fiducia of Drake's Restaurant finding 'light herbaceousness and soft fruit on the nose, and a palate with depth'.

£27.85 Bava Azienda Vitivinicola

Nino Negri, Vigneto Fracia, Valtellina Superiore 2013, Lombardy, Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Plummy nose with some red fruit on the palate, grippy tannins and a maraschino note,' said consultant sommelier Emily Bonsor, with Portland's James Fryer also finding 'dry earth, red cherry and bath salt aromas, with desiccated rose and tamarillo fruit on the palate'.

£16.00 GIV UK

Prunotto, Pian Romualdo, Barbera d'Alba 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Bronze medal winner

'A very good, grippy style with lovely violet and rose fruit. A well-made offering,' said Chris Wood of Chelsea Vintners, with Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don picking up more developed notes of 'tobacco, leather, plums and mushroom'.

£15.45 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Vietti , Castiglione, Barolo 2011, Piedmont , Italy

Commended medal winner

£32.72 Bibendum

Nera, Sassella Riserva, Valtellina Superiore 2008, Lombardy, Italy

Commended medal winner

£15.90 Alivini

La Gironda, Le Nicchie, Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2012, Piedmont , Italy

Commended medal winner

Cascina Castlet, Litina, Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2011, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

£11.72 Alivini

Prunotto, Barolo 2011, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

Lupi, Braje, Ormeasco di Pornassio Superiore 2012, Liguria , Italy

Commended medal winner

£18.85 Eurowines

Vite Colte, La Luna e I Falò, Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2013, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

£11.03 VinumTerra

Tenimenti Ca' Bianca, Barolo 2011, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

£18.00 GIV UK

Pelissero, Tulin, Barbaresco 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

£34.50 Alivini

Pelissero, Piani, Barbera d'Alba 2012, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

£12.75 Alivini

Bava, Scarrone, Barolo 2009, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner


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