A troublesome vintage, though the top growers still managed to produce some excellent wines
January began with plenty of rain and snow, after which February and March were relatively dry. A wet April gave problems with the development of fungal diseases, but May and June were drier and the weather was hot for flowering, subsequently reaching peaks of 36 C in Barbaresco on June 12. After the heat, the weather was variable into July with widespread rain. July and August remained rather cool and variable with above average rainfall. After a wet start, September was warm and dry up until 4 days of heavy rain from the 19th of the month. The end of the month and early October was dry for picking.
Despite a difficult vintage all areas in Piedmont produced some very good wines. Barolo in particular showed greater ripeness than in 1995 with marginally lower levels of acidity. Barbaresco was a notch above 1995 in quality. 1996 was a good vintage for Barbera, similar to 1995 but with lower acidity.
There are a number of delicious Barbareschi that can already be approached with confidence. Outstanding growers are Bricco Rocche (Bricco Asili), Cigliuti, Giuseppe Cortese, Gaja, La Spinetta, Pasquero, Pelissero (Vanotu) , Albino Rocca, Sottimano
In Barolo the best growers include: Altare, Clerico, Aldo Conterno, Corino, Giacomo Conterno, Conterno-Fantino, Gaja, Elio Grasso, Silvio Grasso, Bartolo Mascarello, Prunotto, Oberto, Paolo Scavino, Roberto Voerzio