Nebbiolo Previews: Barbaresco DOCG 2020 and Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2018

By Michael Godel

What’s in a vintage? If we are talking about 2020 Barbaresco there is so much to say because these are a group of nebbiolo that meet at the crossroads of variability, complexity, multiplicity and whimsy. At their finest the ’20s are a textural bunch, suave and sensorial because of high levels of glycerol and unctuousness. If there is density it’s of an elastic, chewy, often leathery and pliable kind. Many examples reach levels that heighten awareness and elicit deeper understanding of what it means to be Barbaresco. The best are the sort that exhibit experience, acumen, stage presence and when appropriate, also ambition. Top end Barbaresco are varietal distillate expressions of cru, soil, vintage and maker. Wines that finish with dignified tannins, often sweet ones that carry forward from nearly identical vintage acidities. Anyone will tell you that nebbiolo of this world are marked from the get-out, before they are bottled. Not all the 2020 Barbaresco can be credited as being exceptional but there are many worthy of kind and even reverential praise.

Nebbiolo Prima 2023

Related – Nebbiolo Prima Previews: Barolo DOCG 2019, Barolo Riserva DOCG 2017 and Retrospectives

While it is said that as a rule the wines of Barbaresco drink earlier than those of Barolo, the fact of the matter is they are bottled earlier and a more recent vintage is presented at each anteprima. It must also be explained that Barolo’s tannins are never sneaky, more like in your face but those from Barbaresco can lurk beneath the surface, pounce when you least expect them and in some cases create nebbiolo of longevity that rival Barolo. This is one of the fascinations about Barbaresco, especially when tasted blind and young, because a taster is made to concentrate, focus and try to determine if there may just be wily structure laid in hiding inside the fortifications of a wine. Barbaresco is so often a crafty and cunning example of nebbiolo worthy of decades of time in the cellar.

Related – Barbaresco DOCG previews and retrospectives: 2017, Riserva 2015, 2007 and 2005

Barbaresco is so many things. A village, commune and also a set of wines made from nebbiolo grown on the right bank of the Tanaro River, southeast of Alba. The eponymous village is joined by three others, they being Neive and Treiso, plus San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, an outlying district of Alba. In geological terms, the Barbaresco wine growing area is approximately 23 to 5.3 million years old, belonging to the Miocene Epoch of the Tertiary Period. A drone’s view might say the area resembles a horse’s head, or more appropriately a cluster of nebbiolo grapes. In 2020 vine space increased to 783 hectares and for the first time production exceeded five million bottles (5,128,920).

“If seeking Barbaresco cru from 2020 with a plan to hold and then drink well five through 15 years forward is the intended search, well then this Grand Crus like Asili, Rabajà and Martinenga will fulfil those hopes and dreams”

Barbaresco and the Langhe

There can often be depth to nebbiolo of no particular cru affiliation, a.k.a nessuna menzione but also those composed of fruit taken off of several vineyard sources, or what are called più comuni. The communes of Neive, Barbaresco, Treiso and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio each produce different styles of nebbiolo but one thing is certain. Barbaresco wines as a whole are more identifiable than those from Barolo, mainly because the hectarage and diversity of soils are much smaller by comparison. Barbaresco are not younger siblings and while they are cousins they are the cool, hip, intriguing ones full of interest, fantasy and meaning. As for the crus (referred to in the Langhe as menzione), yes there are in fact those considered Grand. The ridge that includes Asili, Rabajà and Martinenga receive the greatest respect. These sites along with Neive’s Santo Stefano and Treiso’s Pajorè are considered the finest vineyards anywhere in the the entirety of the Barbaresco DOCG. For Barbaresco commune the top menzioni have been classified as Pajè, Pora, Asili, Martinenga, Montefico, Montestefano, Muncagota, Rabajà, Rio Sordo, Roncagliette and Secondine. Then there are Albesani, Basarin, Currá, Cottá, Gallina, Santo Stefano and Serraboella from Neive. Out of Treiso the higher mentions have been Bernardot, Bricco di Treiso, Pajorè, Rombone and Vallegrande. For San Rocco Seno d’Elvio; Meruzzano, Montersino, Rizzi (all these are shared with Treiso) and Rocche Massalupo.

This 27th edition of Nebbiolo Prima took place in Alba back in January of 2023, with thanks to Albeisa and the organization’s President Marina Marcarino, along with Anna Barbon and Linda Foltran of AB Comunicazione. These 2020 Barbarescos are now showing up in the Canadian market and will continue to do so through the early months of 2024. Once again a reminder that not all producers participate in Nebbiolo Prima, for a myriad of reasons and so consider this report as a relevant snapshot of those that did. These 77 tasting notes, which include some older vintages poured that week, tell a vintage story, or at least Godello’s interpretation of it.

Barbaresco DOCG 2020


Masseria Di Delmonte Pierina Barbaresco DOCG Montersino 2020
Adriano Marco E Vittorio Sanadaive Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Manera Fratelli Barbaresco DOCG Rizzi 2020


Giordano Luigi Giuseppe Barbaresco DOCG Asili 2020
Giordano Luigi Giuseppe Barbaresco Cavanna 2020
Culasso Piercarlo Barbaresco DOCG Faset 2020
Culasso Piercarlo Barbaresco DOCG Faset Duesoli 2020
Chiarlo Michele Barbaresco DOCG Faset 2020
Tenute Cisa Asinari Dei Marchesi Di Gresy Barbaresco DOCG Martinenga 2020
Cascina Morassino Di Bianco Roberto Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Giacosa Carlo Di Giacosa Mariagrazia Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Giacosa Carlo Di Giacosa Mariagrazia Barbaresco DOCG Montefico 2020
Moccagatta Barbaresco DOCG Bric Balin 2020
Castello di Verduno Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Cascina Morassino di Bianco Roberto Barbaresco DOCG Ovello 2020
Musso di Musso Emanuele Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Cascina Luisin Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Musso di Musso Emanuele Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Poderi Colla Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Albino Rocca Barbaresco DOCG 2020


Antichi Poderi dei Gallina di Francone Marco Barbaresco DOCG Albesani 2020
Castello di Neive Barbaresco DOCG Vigna Santo Stefano Albesani 2020
Adriano Marco e Vittorio Barbaresco DOCG Basarin 2020
Cascina Luisin Barbaresco DOCG Vecchie Viti Basarin 2020
Fontanabianca Barbaresco DOCG Bordini 2020
Cascina Vano di Rivetti Bruno Barbaresco DOCG 2020 Canova
Cascina Saria Di Abbruzzo Francesco Barbaresco DOCG Colle Del Gelso Canova 2020
Albino Rocca Barbaresco DOCG Cotta’ 2020
Taverna Roberto Barbaresco DOCG Senteùndes Cotta’ 2020
Roberto Sarotto di Cavallotto Aurora Barbaresco DOCG Gaia Principe 2020
Negro Giuseppe di Negro Piergiorgio Barbaresco DOCG Gallina 2020
Poderi e Cantine Oddero Barbaresco DOCG Gallina 2020
Pelissero Pasquale Barbaresco DOCG Cascina Crosa 2020
Bera Barbaresco DOCG Serraboella 2020
Cordara Ornella Barbaresco DOCG Tufo Blù 2020
Taverna Roberto Barbaresco DOCG Duicrü 2020
Pietro Rinaldi Barbaresco DOCG San Cristoforo 2020
Pelissero Pasquale Barbaresco DOCG Bricco San Giuliano 2020
Fontanabianca Barbaresco DOCG Serraboella 2020
Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco DOCG Serraboella 2020
Collina Serragrilli Barbaresco DOCG Starderi 2020


Cantina del Nebbiolo Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Masseria di Delmonte Pierina Barbaresco DOCG Mon Sertù 2020
Socré Barbaresco DOCG 2020
Molino Barbaresco DOCG Ausario 2020
Nada Giuseppe Barbaresco DOCG Casot 2020
Cascina Alberta Barbaresco DOCG Giacone 2020
Cantina Vignaioli Elvio Pertinace Barbaresco DOCG Marcarini 2020
Nada Giuseppe Barbaresco DOCG Marcarini 2020
Cantina Vignaioli Elvio Pertinace Barbaresco DOCG Nervo 2020
Molino Barbaresco DOCG Teorema 2020
Lodali Walter Barbaresco DOCG Rocche Dei 7 Fratelli 2020
Bosio Family Estates Belcolle Barbaresco DOCG Pajorè 2020
Piazzo comm. Armando di Piazzo Marina Barbaresco DOCG Pajorè 2020
Ada Nada Barbaresco DOCG Elisa Rombone 2020
Vigneti Luigi Oddero e Figli Barbaresco DOCG Rombone 2020
Ada Nada Barbaresco DOCG Valeriano 2020
Grasso Fratelli Barbaresco DOCG Vallegrande 2020
Ca’ Del Baio di Grasso Giulio Barbaresco DOCG Vallegrande 2020

Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2018

Manera Fratelli Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Rizzi 2018
Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Martinenga 2018
Socré Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Roncaglie 2018
Castello di Neive Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Albesani 2018
Giacosa Fratelli Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Basarin Vigna Gianmate’ 2018
Punset di Marcarino Marina & C. Barbaresco Riserva DOCG San Cristoforo Campo Quadro 2018

Miscellaneous Older Barbaresco

Bera Barbaresco DOCG Serraboella 2019
Cascina Vano di Rivetti Bruno Barbaresco DOCG 2019 Canova
Culasso Piercarlo Barbaresco DOCG Faset Duesoli 2019
Cerrino Barbaresco DOCG 2019
Paitin Barbaresco DOCG Sorì Paitin Serraboella 2019
Cerrino Barbaresco DOCG 2018
Cantina Del Pino Barbaresco DOCG Ovello 2017
Cascina Vano Di Rivetti Bruno Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Pilone Nei Rivetti 2016
Bera Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Rabajà 2015
Paitin Barbaresco DOCG Sorì Paitin Serraboella 2013
Bera Barbaresco Riserva DOCG Basarin 2012

Good to go!



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