The vintage chart and harvest reports provided by the Wine Scholar Guild gives you the ranking for Italian wine regions and vintages from 2010 to today.
Italian wine expert Tom Hyland compiled the vintage assessments for 2010 through 2020. Paul Caputo, wine writer, judge, critic and creator of Vinorandum, has compiled this information and written the vintage charts for the 2021 vintage.
This vintage chart was last updated on September 5, 2023 in order to include the 2021 vintage. Enjoy!
|2021||2021 started out positively with mild winter temperatures and plenty of rain. A touch of snow also helped provide good water reserves for the season ahead. Yields were predicted to be about 10% down on 2020 as Spring arrived, with growers navigating some difficult frosts. Fortunately, the final cold snap only inflicted minor damage to younger buds. A wonderful run of warm, sunny weather characterised April and May, with fruit set more aligned to classical timings rather than the earlier onsets that are increasingly prevalent. More good weather in June and July was punctuated by a deluge of summer hail storms that caused widespread damage throughout the Langhe and Dogliani, some of which was quite severe. Barolo and Barbaresco were largely spared however. Excellent conditions continued through August resulting in an initial Nebbiolo harvest at the very end of September and culminating, for most growers, in the second week of October. Despite a series of ‘freak’ weather incidents, 2021 is generally considered to be a quality vintage, with slightly lower yields turning out quality fruit. Smaller berries, phenolic ripeness, and good concentration of sugars and acids are expected to produce structured, age worthy wines with plenty of complexity. Writing in July 2023, there is a great deal of optimism and excitement for the long term development of these wines.|
|2020||Following a late harvest in 2019, 2020 was an earlier ripening vintage; Nebbiolo was harvested through the first 10-12 days of October. Winter was mild, while spring was very wet, followed by a warm summer; overall, crop size was slightly lower than normal. Acidity levels for all varieties was bright, and there is impressive complexity. On the whole, both whites and reds from Piedmont in 2020 are excellent; so far on the reds, Dolcetto shows appealing fruitiness and excellent balance, while the examples of Langhe Nebbiolo are quite elegant with round tannins. This promises to be an excellent, perhaps even outstanding vintage for Barolo and Barbaresco; indeed some producers believe 2020 to be a better vintage for Nebbiolo than the powerful year of 2019.|
|2019||Winter was quite cold, which delayed flowering; rain and low temperatures were the norm for March. Very high temperatures as much as 40°C (104°F) were present for a few days in June, which together with plentiful water in the soil, created rapid plant growth. Thankfully, these torrid conditions only prevailed a short time, as heavy rains hit during early July. A hailstorm hit in early September, but damage was limited to a small area, thanks in part to nets that remained from the heat spell in early summer. Despite all this, 2019 can overall be described as a beautiful growing season that made vineyard conditions near perfect for vintners. Hot days and cool nights were the norm for September, and harvest of Nebbiolo took place from the second to third weeks of October. The grapes displayed excellent sugar levels, very good acidity and color and excellent structure. While it is too early to judge Barolo and Barbaresco, as the wines are still in barrels, quality should be excellent (the 2019 offerings of Dolcetto are outstanding, offering great varietal purity and harmony), and could turn out to be superb. Most producers have identified 2019 as a classic year with wines of excellent structure and perhaps outstanding aging potential.|
2018 was a rainy year, second only to 2002 since the beginning of the new millennium in the Langhe. The snow and heavy rains of the winter were beneficial, as the soil needed moisture after the drought conditions of 2017. Spring began on a beautiful note, and budbreak was regular. However, between the end of May and the beginning of June, intense rains caused problems for many growers in the vineyards. Rising temperatures during this period caused high humidity, and often, problems with mold; some areas were hit worse than others. The beginning of September was marked by above average temperatures and high humidity, while cool nights helped create a more beneficial ripening situation for Nebbiolo. This was a rather late harvest compared to recent years, as most picking was started in the second week of October. Overall, the wines from 2018 are quite elegant with very good acidity and medium-weight tannins; aromatics are very pronounced. While the Barolos are not yet released, most examples of Barbaresco are, and though lighter than years such as 2013 and 2016, the quality is well above average; these are not long-term wines (look for 12-15 years peak with many Barolo, perhaps a few years longer for the best wines), but they are elegant and loaded with charm.
The winter was mild with only a few snowfalls, while spring was marked with some rain and above average temperatures for the season. During late June, as well as for a few days in July and the end of August, temperatures were extreme; thankfully nights were cooler than in recent “hot” years. Rains finally arrived during the first few days of September, helping conditions return to relatively normal. Nebbiolo harvest was quite early, during the 3rd week of September. The finished wines diplay excellent ripeness, with balanced acidity and round tannins; though some offerings display fruit that is a bit cooked, with slightly lower acidity. Though not candidates for long-term aging, the Barolo and Barbaresco from 2017 are much better balanced and more approachable at an early age than examples from other recent hot growing seasons such as 2003.
The growing season started with an 8-10 day delay compared to a typical year (low temperatures and rain at the end of February and March), so the harvest took place later than the other recent vintages. The ideal summer conditions lasted until the end of September, with sunny days and a very good temperature shift between night and day, with the result being healthy and perfectly ripe grapes. Harvest took place between the second week of October until the 19th or 20th. Producers report an extraordinary balance between acidity, tannins, alcohol and extract. The finished wines display the proper structure for long aging, but also offer graceful tannins that give these wines approachability even at an early age; perfect is a word used by numerous producers in Barolo and Barbaresco to describe 2016. Long term cellar potential, between 25-40 years, will be seen for dozens of Barolo and Barbaresco from 2016.
The winter was very snowy, followed by a mild and dry spring that resulted in early bloom. Summer was very hot, with heat peaks in July that often exceeded 40° C (106-108° F) for several days. Fortunately, thanks to the good winter water supply from the rains in 2014, the plants did not go into stress and developed excellent vigor. The high summer temperatures helped maintain an excellent state of health for the vines throughout the year. Compared to recent vintages, 2015 was an early harvest with small bunches. Some Nebbiolo vineyards were harvested in September. The wines can be considered mid-weight, aromatic and fresh and expressive despite the hot summer. The wines are in general slightly forward and are quite approachable early on, with the best-structured wines capable of 12-20 years of cellaring.
The common consensus was that 2014 was a difficult year due to atypical rainfall, colder than normal temperatures and numerous hailstorms. While 2014 was challenging in the vineyards, the quality of the finished wines was much better than originally thought. Conditions overall were better in Barbaresco, as compared to the Barolo zone (as far as hailstorms), but in both areas, the harvest was late, allowing the grapes to benefit from ideal warmth in September that was a welcome relief after the cool and rainy summer. The size of the crop was smaller than usual, but late October picking meant very good acidity and impressive structure; in many ways the 2014 Barolos and Barbarescos are reminiscent of the wines of the 1960s and ‘70s; their style is classic Piemontese. Aging potential is mid-term, between 12-20 years, as the wines are not as powerful as in the finest vintages.
The winter and spring low temperatures and high rainfall delayed the budding of the Nebbiolo, resulting in harvest 15 days later than typical for recent years. Coinciding with the veraison (late July), the climate finally changed in summer, with ideal warmth until the end of the harvest period. The quality of the grapes was excellent thanks to a hot and dry summer and fall; size of the harvest was larger than normal. The wines display a superb mix of power, acidity, ripeness and overall harmony; the finest have the structure to age well for 20 years for Barbaresco and up to 25-35 years for Barolo.
2012 started out as one of the coldest winters in recent memory, with temperatures as cold as -15°C (5°F) at the beginning of February. March was rainy, but not excessively, and temperatures were quite warm, followed by a cooler April and May. Overall the spring and summer saw slightly warmer temperatures than normal, except for a few heat spikes the third week of August; harvest in September and October took place with ideal temperatures. Thus while 2012 was a warm vintage in the Langhe, it was not as hot as several other years during the decade, as with 2011, 2015 or 2017. Sugar levels in the grapes were near perfect, and perhaps more importantly, phenolic ripeness was ideal. The size of the crop was slightly small, but quality was excellent, and varietal purity was outstanding. Look for 15-20 years of aging potential for the best wines.
Winter was normal in terms of temperature and rainfall; March saw an increase in precipitation that ensured good amounts of water in the soil. Tempetures increased in April, and bud break occurred two weeks earlier than normal. Cooler temperatures marked June, while July offered several days of rain. Higher than normal temperatures marked the entire month of May, resulting in very ripe fruit with slightly lower than normal acidity. Yields were low, while color was quite good, and there was a proper amount of tannins. Quality overall is above average and there is good varietal character in the finished wines. A problem with some 2011 Barolo and Barbaresco is their lack of persistence, though the finest riserva wines, which have developed well, do not have this problem. All in all, a year of elegant, if not spectacular wines that have mid-term aging potential (10-15 years).
The winter was long and very cold, resulting in bloom 10-15 days late on average. Temperatures were for most of the season slighltly cooler than what would be normal in this decade, resulting in long hangtime on the vine, along with ideal ripening and phenolic ripeness. The wines offer an exceptional harmony between ripeness and acidity, and are structured for the long haul. As big as these wines are, the wines are among the most fragrant and complex in years, with a beautiful sense of finesse. Expect a long life with the 2010s, as long as 30-40 years for the finest offerings.
|Poor to Fair|
|Fair to Good|
|Good to Excellent|
|Excellent to Exceptional|
These vintage notes have been prepared by Tom Hyland. Use this chart as a guide only; in every vintage there will be outperforming and underperforming wines.
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