An outstanding vintage which produced superbly ripe wines for mid-term ageing
The year began with unsettled weather: plenty of snow and extreme cold periods. From the end of January until May the weather turned exceptionally dry and often very warm. Budding was 20-30 days ahead of schedule. Flowering took place in May with no problems. Water levels were slightly replenished by a wet spell in June. July, August and September were hot. The odd storm in August helped provide adequate water for ripening. Some isolated hailstorms were the only real blot on a fine growing season with very little disease. September was ideally warm and dry for an early harvest of exceptional quality.
In Piedmont 1997 was a year in which it was hard to produce grapes of less than very high quality. The best Barolo and Barbaresco show an almost unprecedented opulence and richness. 1997 is also a superlative year for Barbera with many wines of great concentration. If there is such a thing as ‘vintage of the century’ this may well be it.
It is too early to say if 1997 will surpass 1990 or 1998 in terms of ultimate quality, but there are again many exceptional wines, which collectors will want to get their hands on as soon as they are released. Acidity levels are low, which means that the great Baroli and Barbareschi can be enjoyed relatively young, although their massive, ripe tannins look to ensure a long future. A dream vintage: your favorite producer is sure to have excelled him or her-self.
Top names in Barolo include: Altare, Clerico, Aldo Conterno, Giacomo Conterno, Conterno-Fantino, Corino, Gaja, Elio Grasso, Silvio Grasso, Prunotto, Oberto, Paolo Scavino, Roberto Voerzio
In Barbaresco top names are: Cigliuti, Gaja, La Spinetta, Moccagatta, Pasquero (Paitin), Pelissero.
There are many, many outstanding Barberas from all the top rated growers. In addition to the famous names, look out for: Accornero, Cascinacastle’t, Mauro Molino, Chicco, Giovanni Corino, Gallino, Luisin, and Seghesio,