The warm 2015 growing season in Barolo posed a few challenges for growers, but overall, it was excellent. Coming after the extremely difficult 2014 vintage, which was marked by cool summer temperatures and intense rain during the growing season, the overall hot 2015 vintage was a welcome relief for growers.
Despite the above-average summertime temperatures, 2015 Barolos are balanced and poised, with restrained alcohol levels. Vineyard management was crucial during the summer, especially leaf canopy management, and great care had to be taken to avoid exposing clusters, which would have resulted in scorching the berries, namely in south and southwest facing vineyards. Nebbiolo ripened extremely well and grapes were remarkably healthy, with the Barolo harvest starting between the end of September and the beginning of October.
The 2015s have higher acidity and better color stability than other hot years, and have more restrained alcohol than other hot vintages, ranging between 14 and 14.5% alcohol by volume with 15% being rare. The quality of the tannins is also outstanding. While most wines will be approachable starting around the eight-year mark after the vintage, they also show good aging potential, up to 20 years or more.
Cantina Bartolo Mascarello 2015 Barolo; $240, 98 points. This gorgeous wine has heady aromas of violet, rose, baking spice and ripe, red berry. On the smooth, juicy palate, taut, polished tannins support succulent red cherry, raspberry compote, licorice and wild herbs. It’s already delicious and accessible but will also age well for years to come. Drink through 2035. Polaner Selections. Cellar Selection. –Kerin O’Keefe
Brovia 2015 Rocche di Castiglione (Barolo); $104, 97 points. Rose petal, fragrant blue flower, wild berry, baking spice, menthol and new leather are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this gorgeous, fragrant red. Smooth, enveloping and loaded with finesse, the focused palate delivers pomegranate, red cherry, licorice and chopped mint alongside taut, lithe tannins and bright acidity. It’s still youthfully tight but already shows depth and pedigree and will develop even more complexity with aging. Drink 2023–2035. Rosenthal Wine Merchant. Cellar Selection. –K.O.
Ettore Germano 2015 Cerretta (Barolo); $75, 97 points. Aromas of red cherry, pipe tobacco, menthol and star anise with a whiff of new leather shape the nose of this fragrant, captivating wine. The intense, structured palate doles out raspberry compote, licorice, graphite, crushed mint and a whiff of smoke. It’s impeccably balanced, with firm, fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity. Drink 2023–2035. Oliver McCrum Wines. Cellar Selection. –K.O.
Massolino 2015 Parafada Serralunga d’Alba (Barolo); $107, 97 points. Forest floor, new leather, rose and perfumed berry align with menthol and tobacco aromas in this stunning wine. The focused, full-bodied palate has great fruit and tension, delivering wild raspberry, juicy Marasca cherry, white pepper and ground clove, while firm, polished tannins and fresh acidity provide support. Drink 2023–2035. Vineyard Brands. Cellar Selection. –K.O.
G D Vajra 2015 Coste di Rose (Barolo); $70, 96 points. Enticingly floral, this fragrant red opens with aromas of rose, violet and iris that mingle with perfumed berry and eucalyptus. The palate is equally captivating, boasting great finesse that surrounds strawberry compote, raspberry, star anise and crushed herbs before a white pepper note graces the lingering close. It’s impeccably balanced, with bright acidity and taut, refined tannins. Drink 2023–2033. Winebow. Editors’ Choice. –K.O.
Marcarini 2015 Brunate (Barolo); $99, 96 points. From one of the most celebrated vineyards in the denomination, this stunning red opens with enticing scents of rose, camphor, aromatic herbs and a whiff of sandalwood. The succulent, elegant palate delivers juicy Marasca cherry, crushed pomegranate, licorice and sweet tobacco framed by taut, polished tannins. It’s nicely balanced by fresh acidity. Drink 2022–2032. Empson USA Ltd. –K.O.
Paolo Scavino 2015 Prapò (Barolo); $73, 96 points. Aromas of incense, rose, iris and eucalyptus carry the nose of this compelling wine. The full-bodied palate is smooth and enveloping, delivering juicy black cherry, pomegranate, licorice, tobacco and clove. It has a fantastic combination of structure and finesse that shows the power of Serralunga and the elegance that is the hallmark of this estate. Hold for even more complexity. Drink 2025–2035. Skurnik Wines. Cellar Selection. –K.O.
Brezza 2015 Barolo; $46, 95 points. Juicy and generous, this delicious red opens with aromas of dark-skinned berry, fragrant blue flower and baking spice. On the round, almost creamy palate, refined tannins and fresh acidity accompany juicy raspberry, cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of eucalyptus. Just lovely. Coeur Wine Co. Editors’ Choice. –K.O.
Michele Chiarlo 2015 Cannubi (Barolo); $110, 95 points. Aromas of rose petal, grilled herb, camphor and a whiff of pipe tobacco shape the nose. Elegantly structured, the smooth, delicious palate doles out crushed raspberry, cherry compote, cinnamon and licorice while taut, fine-grained tannins provide finesse and support. Drink 2023–2030. Kobrand. –K.O.
Prunotto 2015 Bussia (Barolo); $95, 95 points. Rose, violet, red berry and pine aromas take center stage on this stunning red. The delicious palate is taut and enveloping, offering cranberry, red cherry, exotic spice and licorice while firm, fine-grained tannins provide the framework. Drink 2023–2035. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. –K.O.
Pio Cesare 2015 Barolo; $82, 94 points. Camphor, cedar, mature berry and pipe tobacco aromas are front and center. The full-bodied, linear palate shows strawberry compote, wild cherry, licorice and white pepper framed in taut, fine-grained tannins. Drink 2020–2027. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA. –K.O.
Fontanafredda 2015 del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba (Barolo); $45, 94 points. Aromas of woodland berry, rose, eucalyptus and forest floor are front and center. Elegant yet structured, the focused palate offers juicy cranberry, wild cherry and star anise accompanied by fine-grained tannins. Drink 2021–2027. Taub Family Selections. Editors’ Choice. –K.O.