A superb vintage all round with Barolo and Barbaresco set for a long life
In Piedmont the year began with extremely low temperatures and dry conditions. At the end of January, a pattern of very mild weather began and lasted through February. The absence of rain or snow continued. March was a topsy-turvy month, beginning with cold weather and then turning so warm as to cause wildfires and in some sites Nebbiolo even broke bud. At the end of March some rainfall finally arrived. April brought welcome and abundant rain. At the end of April warm weather returned and lasted for the first 20 days of May. May ended with variable weather with some rain and scattered hailstorms. This mixed weather continued until June 20, causing problems for flowering and setting of fruit. The last ten days of June brought the start of a long, hot summer. Some rain and hail at the end of July did little to slow the rapid maturation of the fruit. August remained mainly extremely hot. September continued very fine for the crucial final ripening period and allowed a harvest that was 10-15 days in advance of the average. By the time rain arrived in October, most of the crop was safely in.
After all the hype accompanying the 1989 vintage, it was ironic that 1990 turned out even finer. The only major problems for growers in 1990 were an irregular flowering and setting (a help to those growers reluctant to reduce yields by other means), and drought inhibiting full ripening in a few cases. Across the board, the 1990s, especially from Barolo and Barbaresco, show a fine combination of power and complexity. The excellent late summer/early autumn conditions for the final period of maturation resulted in more open and rich wines than the slightly tighter 1989s.
1990 was a rare vintage with high standards across the board in both Barolo and Barbaresco. The modern-day kings and princes of Barolo – Altare, Clerico, Corino, Aldo Conterno, Gaja, Sandrone, Paolo Scavino, and Roberto Voerzio all made great wines. Others to join them in making superlative wines in 1990 were Batasiolo (Cordero della Briccolina), Brovia, Capellano, Michele Chiarlo (Cannubi), Elio Grasso, and Rocche dei Manzoni (Vigna Big). Stars in Barbaresco included Cigliuti, Gaja, Moccagatta and Pasquero. Many superb Barberas were released from growers such as Altare, Braida, Coppo (Pomorosso), and Prunotto.