To find wines for his highly curated online retail shop, Thatcher’s Wine, and import portfolio, Thatcher’s Imports, Thatcher Baker-Briggs spends extensive time on the ground in his favorite European regions. There, he has met numerous young producers who are spurring generational shifts in their respective areas—but Baker-Briggs has been particularly compelled by a wave of next-generation winemakers in Piedmont.
Barolo is thought of as tannic, structured, dense, and “the general conception of this wine is that you can’t drink it for 20 years,” he says. But this new wave of young vintners—some of whom are transplants with international training and experience—is using techniques like whole-cluster fermentation, organic and biodynamic farming, and low-intervention winemaking to create a new style of this traditional wine.
“When you’re in Barolo, you don’t make wine—you make Barolo. Barolo has an identity,” says Baker-Briggs. “Young kids are changing the conception of what Barolo can be.”
These emerging producers work in a way that is neither definitively traditional nor “modern” (which is a bit of a misnomer today, since the modern-style movement emerged in the 1980s). Instead, they are combining practices from both—and adding their own. “They are questioning wine,” says Baker-Briggs. “Why do we do long macerations? Why do we use large barrels, or French barrels? Why do we pick early? Why do we age the wine for so long?”
The result is a crop of Barolos that are “so pure and so beautiful,” he says, noting that they are more generous and expressive upon release. “They are pleasurable to drink in their youth but continue to age really well. [Ageability] is still an important factor.”
Many of these producers’ first Barolo releases are forthcoming—and Baker-Briggs is importing them through Thatcher’s Imports—though, as many wineries do, they have released Langhe Nebbiolos, Dolcettos, and beyond as their Barolos age.
Selling Points for Next-Gen Barolo Wines
- These wines are just hitting the market, making them exciting to introduce to consumers—and offering a compelling story to share. “It’s a story of young people going into what is one of the most historical wine regions,” says Baker-Briggs.
- Many of these producers have tiny production quantities, making them somewhat rare offerings.
- Piedmont, particularly Barolo, has name recognition, and in-the-know consumers are likely to be intrigued to taste these new approaches to a traditional wine region.
- These wines are crafted to be more accessible in youth, so cellar time—by the retailer or the consumer—isn’t required.
3 Next-Gen Barolo Producers to Watch
- Ca’ di Press: Though the Pressenda family has long grown grapes and made wine, they didn’t release it under their own label until daughters Alice and Cristina became involved in the business. “[Their first vintage, 2018,] holds next to all of the greats who have been making wine for a long time,” says Baker-Briggs, who notes that the forthcoming 2019 vintage is “a big step up in quality. That’s an amazing sign for a producer.”
- Cantina d’Arcy: Tom Myers, a native of New Zealand, worked at many of Europe’s best-known wineries, including a number of Burgundy’s greats, before landing in Piedmont. He met Philine Isabelle Dienger through Carlotta and Marta Rinaldi, the owners of the legendary Giuseppe Rinaldi winery, and the two newcomers rent a vineyard in Preda together. Myers’ first vintage was 2020, and his Barolo is expected to enter the U.S. market in 2024.
- Philine Isabelle: Dienger is a German who worked with a number of wineries in her home country before making her way to Barolo. She purchased grapes to release wines in 2019 and 2020, and her first Barolo from the Preda vineyard is expected in 2024. Having worked with several biodynamic producers across Germany, Austria, and Italy, Dienger plans to pursue biodynamic certification in the future.
Courtney Schiessl Magrini is the editor-in-chief for SevenFifty Daily and the Beverage Media Group publications. Based in Brooklyn, she has held sommelier positions at some of New York’s top restaurants, including Marta, Dirty French, and Terroir, and her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, GuildSomm, Forbes.com, VinePair, EatingWell Magazine, and more. She holds the WSET Diploma in Wines. Follow her on Instagram at @takeittocourt.