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2018 Barolo Vintage: Challenging Vintage, Good Buying Opportunities

Photo of Barolo vineyards during 2018 vintage.


2018 was a difficult vintage in Barolo but it definitely presents some good buying opportunities, including some wines that are already delicious to drink today. This quick overview will help you navigate the vintage.

Overall Assessment: 

Mixed Vintage


The growing season presented a difficult combination of rain and hot weather, more so in both cases earlier in the season than later. Antonio Galloni points out that the weather in the previous vintage (2017) is also relevant here, as the frost, drought and heat of 2017 seemed to activate the vines’ survival instincts in 2018 to be highly productive when possible, so 2018 ended up being a high-yielding vintage.


Early to Mid-October. This is around the traditional time for the Barolo harvest, though perhaps on the later side for recent years.


Easy-going, ripe wines, sometimes too ripe. I do not find the wines “light”, as Galloni reports. My guess is that the wines presented light when he tasted them, before me, and that they have since filled out. The vintage shows good Nebbiolo fruit, but in too many cases the wines feel heavy and clumsy. There are plenty of good exceptions however. 

Buying Recommendations:

Buy wines for cellaring with care. Not many of the wines will be long-keepers, though wines from top producers, especially producers known for producing good wines in warm vintages (like Rinaldi), will keep just fine. I have really enjoyed everything I’ve tasted from Verduno, Vajra and Brovia, and many wines from La Morra. I’m sure there are other buying opportunities out there. This is also a good vintage to buy entry-level Barolos for more casual Barolo-drinking.

What others are saying: 

You can see below that opinions are very mixed, ranging from Galloni’s mostly negative assessment to reviews that are even glowing! I do think it’s possible, as I mentioned above, that Galloni may have tasted many of the wines in an awkward shy phase, as his view of the vintage is not widely shared (and a few producers that I have spoken with are also somewhat puzzled by it).

Antonio Galloni (Vinous): “Two thousand and eighteen is without a doubt the most erratic, frustratingly inconsistent Barolo vintage I have encountered in twenty-five years of visiting the region and a lifetime of drinking these wines. It is a vintage with some hits, many misses and highly variable quality throughout. Even so, with care readers will find a number of gorgeous wines among this year’s new releases.”

Kerin O’Keefe (Wine Enthusiast): “The 2018 Barolos boast elegance, energy and enticing aromatics. Defined by extremely refined, well-integrated tannins and balance, generally speaking they are already approachable. Most will age well for the next six to eight years while some of the best show good aging potential that will carry them to the 15-year and even the 20-year mark after the vintage. ”

Jancisrobinson.com: “A reversal of fortunes after a fairly dismal 2017, with high volumes of good quality in all the major varieties. The year started cool but finished hot, and good weather persisted throughout harvest.” (all Piedmont)

Decanter: “The Barolo 2018 vintage has produced some delicious, open-knit and approachable wines due to moderate acidity and ripe tannins, as well as good complexity displayed in the top examples. But mostly, it’s just very tasty!”

Bruce Sanderson in Wine Spectator: “The suppleness and elegance of the 2018 Barolos may lead fans of these reds to think of earlier vintages from Piedmont, located in the shadow of the Alps in northwest Italy. Missing this year is the tannic structure that has defined Barolo for the previous three vintages. What you’ll find instead are freshness and gracefulness, along with purity of fruit, giving the 2018s a profile not typically found in young Barolos—namely, an approachability that offers immediate gratification.”

Monica Larner for the Wine Advocate: “Overall, I found the vintage difficult to read, and it’s unrealistic to make blanket statements regarding 2018. It is a vintage that offers both surprises and disappointments in unexpected places, but it ultimately shows the tenacity and skill of vintners who now face daunting new challenges, stemming primarily from how quickly the climate is changing.”

Further reading

Recent Barolo vintage reports

Related articles from our Barolo Wine Guide