Last October 2020 had the chance to taste a range of 2017 Baroli and I was pleasantly surprised. It is clear that the vintage is not generally on the same level of 2016 but it is also clear that the wines do not succumb to the characteristics some hot vintages with drying tannins, alcohol imbalance and cooked fruit.
In tasting, the 2017s are mid-weight Barolos with the classic structure of Nebbiolo. They are often intensely aromatic. Acids and tannins are prominent in many wines. The fruit profiles are ripe, often distinctly red-toned, but not cooked or over-ripe. Perhaps most importantly, the 2017 Barolos are very true to site, which is always a concern with vintages marked by warm weather. The best 2017s are exceptionally polished, vivid and flat-out delicious. If tasted blind, my guess is that few people would identify the wines as coming from a hot and very dry year.
Structurally, the 2017 Barolos are lighter than the 2016s. Excessive heat resulted in uneven ripening and wines with less depth and structure than seen the year prior. The perception of acidity and tannin in the 2017s is often high, precisely because the 2017s don’t have the mid-palate richness and fruit depth of the 2016s. With few exceptions, the 2017 Barolos are not rich or opulent wines, like the 2003s, 2007s or 2011s. Rather, they are mid-weight, nervy Barolos that are reminiscent of the 2015s in feel, with edgy tannins that recall the 2005s, and, in most cases, a great deal of site expression, as readers would expect to see in a more ‘classic’ vintage. The finest 2017s are distinguished by suave, polished tannins that are inside a core of fruit rather than on the outside.
Antonio Galloni - Vinous