MCF Rare Wine

Brovia Barolo 2015
(...and '14...and some 2015 Crus...)


Note: This one is a little rant-y, and when I went to proofread it, I had every intention of whittling it down to something less...rant-y...but then I decided to leave it as is, because this is something I really believe in and, I will admit, something I've personally evolved on, as well...particularly when it comes to the 2014 Barolos. 




Today's email is about the dark, powerful and thoroughly-enjoyable 2015 Barolo Normale of Brovia, easily one of the most ascendant producers in the appellation over the last 5-7 years. 


It's a fantastic, brawny Barolo, one that will offer plenty of muscle out of the gate, and also one that will age well for at least 10-15 years (at least)...and, to be honest, it probably deserves its own newsletter...


But, after being so inspired by how fantastically delicious the 2014 Baroli of Vajra were a few weeks back when we were pouring them here at the shop alongside the equally wonderful, yet quite different 2015s, I cracked a bottle of the Brovia 2014 Barolo Ūnĭo this past weekend, to see how this once nervous and slightly disjointed wine has progressed. 

Well, it has progressed...and the progress is good...

So, I thought I would verbally pound my fists against the wall with all of my dramatic skills yet again to emphasize that only buying 'good' vintages is...

...kinda like only listening to the 'hits' from an album (for those of you who are old enough to understand the concept of an album)...

...or going to a restaurant and only trying the 'signature' dish...

...or going to a city and only seeing the famous, touristy things... other's kinda boring...and limiting...'re missing the opportunity to truly experience the place, the terroir...the real history. 

'Rainy', 'cool' or 'hot' years in Piedmont aren't any less 'Piemontese' than years where the weather was just perfect from flowering to harvest, and one of the most beautiful elements of vintage wine is that it is, in many ways, the ultimate time stamp...a perfect historical record. 

And the way that the year expresses itself over time in the bottle and the glass, whether it be a 'benchmark' year, a 'challenging' one or somewhere in between, isn't any less 'perfect' than any other year...because that's how it was, and exactly how it was supposed to be. 


Now, of course, there are individual wines that end up being unsuccessful, and often times they occur in 'challenging' vintages, but we've all heard or read about wines in 'good' years that 'under-performed for the vintage'. 


Of course I'm not saying there's no such thing as a 'good' vintage (in Barolo, for example '99, '01, '10, just to name a few recent ones) or 'bad' vintages (like 2002), but the idea is that it's more than just the weather that contributes to the wine's quality.  The raw material, the farming, the winemaker's style and skill, all of these play hugely important rolls in what the end product has to say. 


(This is where sayings like 'Buy a producer, not a vintage' come from...)


Anyway, Neal Rosenthal (who imports these wines) loves to say that 'you're not an importer (of a producer) if you don't buy every vintage!'...and, while there is perhaps a little more at play there than meets the eye, I've come to appreciate that notion. 


If you believe in a producer, you know they'll do fine work with whatever they've got at their disposal. 


Plus, nowadays, 'challenging' vintages are rarely 'catastrophic' because of how much better people are at making wine than they were 40 or 50 years ago...


...and producers as skilled as Brovia, do great things in cooler/wetter vintages, like '14 and in warmer/richer vintages like '15.


And the proof?  Well it's in these two bottles...


The 2015 Barolo is broad and brooding, with a decidedly dark tone to it, especially for a Brovia (which typically tend towards the brighter/redder side of things) and it has a very firm, compact backbone to it that's going to hold this wine together for years to come.  The brawny, angular elements will eventually calm down, and this will be another fabulous, if slightly weightier, example of Brovia.   


The 2014 Barolo Ūnĭo, on the other hand - which I should point out is a single wine made from all of the non-hail-destroyed plots (and a bit of purchased fruit) that Brovia had -  is a wine that I had a lot of respect for last year when it landed, but I think it's safe to say that the wine seems to be living up to (or even exceeding) what my highest hopes for it would have been. 


The disparate elements that were so obviously competing for the spotlight in this wine 12-18 months ago have organized themselves quite nicely.  It's still an unmistakably cool/wet vintage, but, as I've come to realize with each passing mature wine I taste from a 'challenging' year, these are the wines that always ending up having the most unique, transparent character. 


Sure, they sometimes aren't 'textbook' in their profile and they probably won't last 70 years like the greatest vintages might...


...but these are the quirky, exciting wines...the characters in the room...the ones who have interesting things to say, even if they are...characters...


The high-toned, fragrant and wild, herb-y mineral elements of this 2014 are only going to get cooler and more pronounced as time goes by, and I can't wait to watch how this wine progresses in the coming years.


Baseball purists love to watch great pitchers who can battle their way through a start without their best stuff (Max Scherzer last night), as much (or even more) than we love to watch them on days when everything's clicking.


And I feel the same way about winemakers - lots and lots of people can make good wine in a great vintage, but only the best can battle their way through 'less than ideal' conditions and still leave us in awe...

Brovia's done exactly that in 2014 and 2015...and not experiencing it for yourself is just selling yourself short. 

Besides, you're going to need something to drink while you wait 30 or 40 years for the 2016s you buy next year to mature...

...but hey, what do I know? 

(Before I forget, I have a tiny amount of the Brovia 2015 Crus left after all my longtime Brovia buyers were taken care of, but quantities are extremely limited at this point.)

You may order by emailing or calling 212.255.8870.


Matt Franco

MCF Rare Wine, Ltd

249 West 13th Street NYC 10011