Frost and drought affected yields across the region, and the heatwave over summer resulted in a shorter ripening period than usual. This may stunt aromatic development, although cool nights have preserved the characteristic high acidity of the region’s reds.
Piemonte produced excellent quality wine in 2016, with ripeness to match the very good 2015 but firmer tannin and higher acidity. Ideal harvest conditions allowed the Nebbiolo to ripen fully, and yields were higher than average too. Arneis also fared well, producing precise, juicy white wines.
An exceptional vintage thanks to healthy grapes and exceptionally regular bunches. A very cold winter with plenty of snow and a protracted cool and rainy spring replenished the water tables, much needed during a July that was the hottest ever on record. The vintage shows great promise, even if some grapes were relatively low in acidity.
The second year in a row when a wet, cool spring followed a very wet winter. Mid May saw temperatures soar, resulting in a regular and quick fruit set that seemed to promise an early harvest and generous yield. But the weather changed to cool and very wet from early July with some violent hailstorms, notably in the commune of Barolo, dashing all hopes of a great vintage. Quality is expected to be irregular, but those who dared to delay harvest were rewarded with a sound, if notably small, crop of Nebbiolo. Likely to be a light year with limited cellaring potential.
Incessant rain during winter and spring delayed budbreak and opened the door to fungal diseases, although many vineyards were too waterlogged for tractors. From mid July temperatures shot up and remained high during August, albeit with cooler nights. September was very sunny and dry, but the growing cycle was still two weeks late, necessitating a delayed harvest. The prognosis is for a vintage similar in quality to the already legendary 2010s.
An unusually hot summer unexpectedly resulted in Nebbiolos with low alcohol levels and high acidity. A very cold February with an abundance of snow helped to replenish water tables. Prolonged cool weather, well into April, protracted budbreak by two weeks. The weather became more regular, with a warm July, only to be interrupted by several hailstorms destroying the crop in several vineyards in Novello. August turned out to be exceptionally hot with temperatures rising well above 40 ºC, causing vines to shut down and halting the growing cycle. Rain at the end of August cooled things down and restarted (slow) ripening. A dry autumn allowed a delayed harvest. The best wines show acidic nerve, balance and freshness. Overall a light vintage but with several excellent wines on the top level.
A very hot year which has nevertheless resulted in some very good, supple, ripe but not stewed wines, even if at times the higher alcohol (15% and sometimes more) make some of them unbalanced. A very warm April set expectations for a harvest a full four weeks earlier than usual. A distinctly cool June and July slowed the growing cycle down considerably, but August was so hot that Dolcetto raisined on the vine. Rain at the beginning of September accelerated ripening again. Cool nights saved Nebbiolo from overripeness, yet harvest was still a full two weeks earlier than the norm.
A wet spring caused irregular fruit set and was followed by an early summer with lots of rain. While Dolcetto suffered most from the short, cool growing season, Nebbiolo proved resilient thanks to its small berries and thick skins. August proved hot, but cool nights helped retain acidity. Some cooling rain in early September ensured a slow but steady development in the berries. Irregular fruit set meant that some producers had to do a severe selection during harvest, but the overall result is considered outstanding: a classic vintage with plenty of acidity, firm but ripe tannins and near-perfect balance in many wines.
A cold winter with lots of rain and snow delayed the start of the growing cycle. An unusually warm spring, however, encouraged a rapid budbreak and regular fruit set. It was still warm in June but a wet July increased fungal pressure in the vineyards and reduced yields in some cases. August was extremely hot and dry and the weather remained like this until mid September. The lack of rain caused water stress and vines to shut down. All this let to wildly irregular weather patterns throughout the region with some Barbera being picked before the early-ripening Dolcetto. Malic acid levels were overall below average, while the tannins did not always ripen fully. Quality is irregular, with excellence next to mediocrity, but hardly any of the wines show the stewed and dried-fruit flavours of the equally torrid 2003 vintage.
Overshadowed by the plush 2007 wines from a hot vintage, 2008’s austerity was not immediately recognised as the stuff great vintages are made of. Although not without challenges to the growers, a long and cool growing cycle resulted in healthy, thick-skinned Nebbiolo grapes full of extract and high sugar levels, balanced by great acidity. Although in most cases the tannins are still unyielding, these powerful wines have all the ingredients for a significant gain in complexity and depth over years to come.
Hail and arid conditions resulted in a low-yielding year, but of good quality fruit.
A coolish summer was followed by an Indian summer punctuated by two bouts of rain but the grapes were healthy enough to withstand them. Promising.
Reduced crop of decent but unremarkable wines for medium term drinking.
Very promising with few extremes of weather and well balanced wines.
As elsewhere, the heatwave shrivelled grapes and resulted in some unbalanced musts although the oldest vines in Barolo and Barbaresco managed to withstand the weather and yield some exceptional wines.
Piemonte's run of good to great vintages was finally broken with disastrous hail in parts of Barolo, rot, unripeness and unusually cool weather. The thin-skinned Barbera suffered most in this small vintage.
Excellent quality (and quantity) from an early vintage slightly more in the voluptuous mould of 1999 and 1997 than particularly long-term. No shortage of ripeness or structure, but an occasional shortage of acidity.
Very good, partly thanks to a prolonged heatwave from mid-August to mid-September. Dolcettos were relatively simple but both Barbera and, especially, Nebbiolo were exceptional with excellent acidity as well as ripeness and great definition of flavour. For the long term.
Very good quality yet again for Nebbiolo-based wines, and Dolcetto which was much more successful than the later-ripening Barbera. Voluptuous Barolo and Barbaresco recalls 1997.
More structure and potential than 1997 and some very fine, elegant wines.
A hot growing season resulted in record ripeness levels but some worryingly low acidities.
Superb Barolo and Barbaresco for keeping.
Hail-reduced crop of deep-coloured wines made from grapes which benefited from a sunny autumn. Probably a notch below 1989 and 1990.
Sugar and acid levels reasonable despite prolonged September rains. Not up to Tuscany’s performance.
Nebbiolo and Barbera didn't really ripen before it rained. May be similar to 1988.
A large harvest, generally low on weight and power.
A smallish crop of light to mid-weight early-drinking wines.
With colossal power and big aromas these are very exciting wines which have repaid extended bottle age.
A superb, healthy crop. Top Barolos are thrilling and repay the wait.
Initially over-rated, these are attractive, soft, full renditions.
A few remain impressive, but excessive yields caused some to fade early.
Oddly similar to Bordeaux: gorgeous young, they have shown they have had the weight and balance to last.
Formidable, even aggressive wines that have developed at a snail's pace.
Classic Barolos: rare but worth seeking out the big names.