An excellent vintage which produced well-structured, long-lived wines
The first two months of the year in Piedmont were cold and damp. Spring too had lower than average seasonal temperatures and frequent rain – April and May were particularly wet months. Not until the second half of June did the weather pick up, too late for the flowering, which took place in very wet conditions causing a significant reduction in the crop even at this early stage, although June and August were much drier, temperatures remained cool for the time of year and there were problems with peronospora due to humidity. After light rains at the beginning of September, the weather suddenly turned right around and the rest of the month was hot and dry with a marked difference between day and nighttime temperatures. The dramatic improvement continued through until the end of the Nebbiolo harvest during the third week of October.
Natural selection and a warm autumn meant a very small crop of thick-skinned Nebbiolo grapes in Barolo and Barbaresco. Initially hailed as a great, long-lived vintage, many of the wines have begun to dry out and the fruit has lost its battle against often-fearsome tannins.
The stars of 1978 are still worth seeking out. They may still seem rather austere in their structure, but they should be drunk now. The best-balanced wines include: Barbaresco from Gaja, Bruno Giacosa, Cigliutti, In Barolo names to look out for are: Marcarini (Brunate), Bartolo Mascarello, Mauro Mascarello (Monprivato), Aldo Conterno (Cicala, Gran Bussia), Vietti (Rocche).