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Barolo 2020: A ‘ready to drink’ vintage

The 2020 growing season in Barolo was hot, but tempered by occurrences of rain and a beneficial lack of heat spikes. Many good wines have been made – as the high scores show – but take heed if you’re looking for longer-term cellaring options.

There is an attractive blue butterfly that is known to lay its eggs in the violets of Serralunga in Barolo, in northwest Italy. Until a decade or so ago, however, as relayed to me by Isidoro Vajra, who tends the vines on his family’s Piedmont estate, Polyommatus celina’s range was generally confined to southern Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Sardinia and some other Mediterranean islands.

It’s just one of the many ways in which the climate crisis in the Langhe region can be illustrated. In what was a very warm year in terms of overall heat levels, the 2020 season can be compared to exceptionally warm years in the last couple of decades.

In his vintage report on his website, the Langhe region’s celebrated cartographer, Alessandro Masnaghetti, says that, ‘the data related to thermal sums [a measure of the accumulation of heat energy over a period of time]… in 2020 closely approached those of very hot years, such as 2003 and 2017’.

But the overall character of the 2020 Barolos is very different to what one might expect from a hot vintage. And this was down to two notable reasons: the lack of water stress across the season for the vines; and the absence of heat spikes.

Scroll down to see notes and scores for Aldo Fiordelli’s 35 recommendations from Barolo’s 2020 vintage

See notes and scores for Aldo Fiordelli’s 35 recommendations from Barolo’s 2020 vintage

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