2016 is a vintage most winegrowers dream of. Many reported that in all their years of farming they had never seen such a good vintage. The wines are characterised by transparency, elegance and freshness, as well as great structure and acidity that makes you salivate. Valter Fissore of Elvio Cogno was very proud to tell me that he thinks his Ravera is the best he has ever made. There have been whispers that it could be the best vintage in the last 20 years, even potentially outshining the outstanding 2010 vintage. Time will tell, but the growing season was certainly superior to 2010, added to the fact that a more subtle style has started to emerge all over the region since then. Focus on the vineyards rather than just the cellar is a phenomenon happening all over the Langhe. This was demonstrated by the 2014 vintage – the growers that had good results in such a challenging vintage knew that they were farming the vineyards the right way.
The year started slowly and it wasn’t until April that temperatures rose above average. Winter was dry, with a bit more rain in the Spring, but not too much for mildew to be a problem. Summer was classic, with the normal heat spike from end of July to September, however low humidity ensured that there wasn’t excessive heat and occasional rain showers tempered the temperatures. Evening temperatures dropped in September creating the perfect conditions for a late harvest – this is important for overall ageing potential as it improves colour and aroma profiles as well as guaranteeing slow, steady maturation whilst avoiding excessive ripeness. This also results in more elegance in the wines. 2016 benefitted from cooler temperatures than 2015 in the month before harvest. Almost no rain meant producers could chose their harvest dates, rather than rushing to the vineyards with a threat of rain (rain at this stage dilutes the grapes). Cool weather at harvest was a return to more ‘normal’ times, before global warming started to have a big effect. Harvest began anywhere between 5 and 13 days later than the average.
The combination of all these factors has led to an extraordinary sense of balance and harmony in the 2016s. There are no mediocre wines and many entry-level bottlings are outstanding, always a sign of a spectacular vintage. It goes without saying that the best producers exceeded expectations and we are lucky to work with several of these. These truly astounding wines demonstrate everything that Nebbiolo is capable of and there is no doubt Barolo lovers will want 2016 in their cellars.
Please note: Quantities are limited, with little more than a few thousand bottles made of certain wines. Some wines are on allocation only. We are expecting high demand so please get your requests in early.
A WORD ON 2017
2017 will suffer for no other reason than following 2016. It will be remembered for its high summer temperatures and was one of the earliest harvests on record, about one to two weeks earlier than the average. Towards the end of April, a sharp drop in temperatures caused some frost damage, though in Barbaresco only the bottom of the valleys and cooler slopes were affected. A spring hailstorm caused some damage to vineyards which limited yields for certain growers. From May, the weather was hot and dry which resulted in perfectly even fruit set. Despite the hot dry conditions, there was plenty of water in the soil from winter snow. Rain at the end of the summer also rebalanced the natural health and quality of the grapes and growers were happy with the results. Wines tend to show more richness with juicy, dark fruit profiles.
Philippa Saunders, Italy Buyer
Special Tasting Case
Available for immediate delivery. This special sample case of Piedmont Italian wines contains 1 bottle of each of the following wines:
– Elvio Cogno –
2014 Barolo Ravera
2018 Langhe Nascetta di Novello
2018 Dolcetto D`Alba Vigna del Mandorlo
– Giacomo Fenocchio –
2015 Barolo Villero
– Mauro Franchino –
£175 for 6 bottles, including all taxes & free delivery in Mainland UK.