Ettore Germano - Barolo on the Up - 2016 Lazzarito Riserva and 2018 Prapò

Ettore Germano - Barolo on the Up - 2016 Lazzarito Riserva and 2018 Prapò

Barolo on the Up - Ettore Germano:

2016 Barolo Riserva 'Lazzarito' - £360 per 6 IB
2018 Barolo, 'Prapò' - £220 per 6 IB

The 2015 release of Ettore Germano’s Barolo Riserva ‘Vigna Lazzarito’ was a great success last year and I am pleased to follow that up with the much-awaited release of their 2016 version, as well as the 2018 Barolo, Prapò – our first release from this vintage.
By now I am sure everyone is aware that 2016 was a truly great vintage for Barolo – I may have mentioned it once or twice. Conditions were near ideal in 2016 and the results speak for themselves. 2018 was a much trickier vintage to navigate and generalisations are not applicable, as some growers have struggled while others have excelled. The Barolo, Prapò from Ettore Germano took me by surprise as you will see below. It isn’t a vintage that I would lay down to be consumed too far down the line, rather a vintage I would broach early. I am certain it will drink well on release given how much charm the sample showed last week. This is what has impressed me with the wines from Ettore Germano; the winemaking approach adjusts to maximise the potential on offer – on one hand they can craft a classical 2016 Barolo Riserva with all the promise of 20 years or more cellarage, and on the other hand, they can adapt in a more mixed 2018 vintage to make a wine of charm and refinement, knowing that the fruit harvested does not offer the structure for a bolder style. There is more than a grain of truth in the oft-quoted phrase that skilled winemakers reveal their talent in more difficult years.
So, Ettore Germano remains a little off radar, and being off the radar means that the wines are incredibly well-priced. When the 2017s were released, Antonio Galloni commented on that there had been a move towards a fresher style with less oak influence and suggested the wines were ‘strong across the board’. At the same time, Monica Larner wrote on that ‘Ettore Germano has taken ambitious leaps and bounds toward greater quality and consistency in this impressive group of new releases.’ I am on the same page, convinced that Sergio Germano’s star is in the ascendant. That might seem a strange thing to say about an estate founded in 1856 that rests with the fourth generation, but recent vineyard acquisitions and inherited parcels have injected new impetus here. The estate, based in Serralunga d’Alba, now has enviable holdings in famous Cru vineyards such as Vignarionda, Prapò, Cerretta and Lazzarito. Having kept an eye on progress following a visit a few years back, I have been incredibly impressed by recent tastings as the wines have shown remarkable finesse. Extraction is carried out in a very careful manner – the wines are never overly firm, neither are they lacking in structure and the vineyard expressions really come to the fore. There is little more that you can ask for.
On the vineyards

Lazzarito was first mentioned as a vineyard in the land register of 1610. Today this MGA (Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva, or appellation) covers 30 hectares at an altitude of 350 metres. The one-hectare parcel that belongs to Germano is oriented south-west and benefits from the afternoon sun. This is an old vine parcel with the vines dating back to 1931. Lazzarito is a fascinating Cru – as with various examples from Serralunga d’Alba, it can show some austerity in its youth, perhaps on account of the marl soils with veins of iron-rich sandstone. That said, with maturity, there is a silky quality to the tannins of Lazzarito and a sense of great refinement, as well as persistence, largely due to the calcareous element in the soil. Given the calibre of the parcel, Germano has opted to make a Riserva from the fruit from these beautifully situated vines and what a gorgeous wine it is. Riserva must be aged for 62 months before release, of which 18 months must have been in oak.
Prapò lies right next to the Germano’s house and cellars in Serralunga d’Alba. It is a highly regarded site with a south-east exposure and an altitude of 340 metres allowing for slow ripening of the fruit, which has been beneficial in recent Piemontese vintages. The soils are calcareous but not as heavy as some other Serralunga vineyards, which means the tannins and structure in a young Prapò are not as dominant as in other Serralunga Cru. The vines here were planted in 1967 by Sergio’s father with some replanting having taken place since.

Please see below for my full notes. As yet neither Monica Larner nor Antonio Galloni have published notes on either of these wines, I have included Walter Speller’s informative notes from Jancis Robinson’s website.


2016 Barolo Riserva ‘Vigna Lazzarito’, Ettore Germano
£360 per 6 bottle case in bond

My note:
In the glass, the 2016 Lazzarito shows the classic garnet hue typical of Nebbiolo. The aromas bring together elements of rose, cinnamon and blood orange, all of which I found in the 2015, yet coupled with notes of darker spicier fruit. The palate shows a fine depth of fruit, wonderfully elegant yet with a sense of something held in reserve. Refined, beautifully balanced with notes of exotic spice and savoury elements emerging to the finish. This is already approachable – nothing is forced, and the tannins are finely-expressed, creating a sleek profile. Four to five years further cellarage will see this Riserva hit its plateau and I would expect it to drink well for a decade thereafter. Another success for Sergio Germano. Drink from 2026-2036+ (SL)

18 points, Walter Speller on 
Serralunga d'Alba. Lustrous mid ruby with orange tinges. The classic spice and concentrated slumbering cherry and dried fruit hints I associate with Lazzarito. Black-pepper tingle. Supple and generous on the palate yet contained and with fine long tannins on the finish. Very long focused supple fruit with the perfect dose of gripping but fine tannins. Already irresistible. (WS) Drink 2022-2036.



2018 Barolo, Prapò, Ettore Germano 
£220 per 6 bottle case in bond 

My note:
Again, not a particularly deeply coloured Barolo, it offers wonderfully appealing aromas, all juicy fragrant red fruits, cherry and berry with a hint of wild mint. Bright, vibrant and packed with charm, this shows so well now, very refined and nothing forced. There is a sappy, supple quality to the fruit, that is underscored by just enough acidity to remain positive and vibrant yet without disturbing the balance. Serralunga’s natural power is often more subdued in Prapò than other cru, and even more so in a vintage like 2018, but that all makes for an approachable Barolo with bags of charm and character. Drink from 2023-2030 (SL)

17.5 points, Walter Speller on 
Serralunga d'Alba. Impressive fragrant nose with bags of cherry and ripe raspberry with a suggestion of perfumed oak. Cranberry and raspberry with long sandy tannins layering the fruit on the finish. Great lively acidity and still very youthful but already irresistible. (WS) Drink 2022-2032.

I know I have said it before, but this is clearly an estate to watch. There is a drive towards higher quality here and it will be an exciting journey to watch given Sergio’s enviable list of vineyard holdings; simply put, he has a number of Barolo’s most prestigious sources at his disposal.
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,

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