Another 2008 vintage saved by an Indian summer. Expect intense flavours but a more elegant structure than last year. Low yielding harvest.
A relatively benign start to the year saw vines ahead of schedule, but all changed with a cool, cloudy April and 17 days of intense stormy rain between mid-May and mid-June across the key Langhe and Asti wine regions. A dreary July followed and the once precocious growth cycle was trailing by a fortnight. Growers were kept busy not only controlling rampant mildew and rot but also thinning out overly vigorous canopy growth (an impediment to ripening) in the Barbera vineyards in particular.
But by mid-August it was warm and dry and Pinot Noir, Riesling, Dolcetto and other earlier ripeners were picked from early September. Super-chilly air currents stalled ripening briefly mid-September but otherwise very warm days and cool nights saw the Nebbiolo and Barbera reach optimum ripeness by early to mid-October. A late-October finish made the harvest one of the decade’s latest.
As in Tuscany, it’s the later-ripening varietals that make the vintage in Piedmont. Nebbiolo was the richest and ripest fruit of 2008, and while Barolo may not have the power of last year, the wines promise to be firmly structured with fine acidity and soft, rounded tannins. Deep colour and intense flavours and aromas will be hallmarks; similarly, the Barbaresco.
Barbera, too, was very healthy with good to excellent sugar levels and promising levels of acidity. The best wines will be full-flavoured, clean and elegant. As for early ripening Dolcetto and white Moscato, having missed out on September’s perfect ripening weather, wines based on these grapes may not deliver quite the same ‘wow’ factor.
Not sufficiently tasted as yet (especially the big Nebbiolo DOCGs) but good ratings so far for BARBERA D’ALBA: Castello di Neive; LANGHE: Renato Ratti; DOLCETTO D’ALBA: Batasiolo, Marchesi di Barolo; DOLCETTO DI DOGLIANI: Bricco Rosso