Barolo DOCG & Barbaresco DOCG 2020 Harvest Report: an Exceptional Vintage is on its Way

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The quality of Nebbiolo grapes harvested in 2020 resembles that of 2016 and the Consortium is confident that the newest vintage will achieve international acclaim.

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The Consorzio Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani officially released the 2020 report announcing an exceptional vintage for the latest harvest. “2020 has been a particularly challenging year in many ways, but nature does not stop, and fortunately it has rewarded us with an exceptional vintage,” states Matteo Ascheri, President of the Consorzio Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Dogliani. “You can expect outstanding Barolos and Barbaresco from the Nebbiolo harvested this year, and we are confident that our appellations will continue to grow in the US market as we find a way out of the current global situation.”

The 2020 vintage began with no particular issues during the winter season; temperatures were mild, and rain and snow falls were few and far between. The very beginning of spring was relatively dry and sunny, ensuring steady plant growth starting from late February, and for the later-ripening varieties, towards the end of March. The months of March and April were marked by good weather and mild temperatures, with little rainfall - a sign of an early harvest. This forecast was however proven wrong in May, when a considerable amount of rainy days were recorded, and the region experienced a fluctuating climate throughout late June.

The advantageous position of early spring was counterbalanced by slow plant growth, yet the accumulation of water in the soil, combined with the mild temperatures during the summer, prevented stress to vines. As far as production volume is concerned, early estimates tended to highlight high quantities, particularly for the early-ripening varieties. The efforts in green harvesting later normalized the situation, further enhancing the quality of the grapes. In general, climate conditions were very good, with some soil management difficulties occurring towards the end of spring as a result of May and June’s rainfall. Fortunately, these were not accompanied by hailstorms or any other significant weather events.

The harvest began for the white grape varieties in early September, one week earlier than generally recorded. Sugar and acidity levels were lower than in the past, but remained steady during vinification, ensuring a great balance between these two components; so critical for this type of wine. The harvest continued with Dolcetto, which produced wines with very elegant aromas despite a drop in temperatures in early September. Lower temperatures set back the accumulation of sugars and a delayed harvest. As far as the varieties with a longer ripening cycle, such as Barbera and Nebbiolo, the situation resembled that of an early harvest, with veraison taking place between early and mid August. The subsequent drop in temperatures led to gradual ripening, which kickstarted in the second half of September. Barbera, in particular, immediately showed excellent parameters with great sugar and acidity.

Nebbiolo proved to be in excellent condition when it was ready for picking: moderate overnight temperatures led to a rapid accumulation of polyphenols, which were already at excellent levels by the middle of September. Growth was constant, rather than exponential, so the grapes reached technological maturation - in other words optimal sugar levels - between the end of September and early October. In terms of acidity too, neither the Nebbiolo nor the Barbera suffered losses typical of a short-cycle or warmer harvest; this may be due to early growth resulting from the substantial supply of water at the beginning of the summer, which allowed the vines to physiologically develop in the best possible way.

In conclusion, taking into consideration all the research data, the 2020 vintage can be said to be extremely good with areas of excellence, especially for the medium-long ageing wines, which are showing characteristics of distinguished and elegant wines.

Andrea Ferrero, Director of the Consortium added “This year we released a spectacular vintage of Barolo – the 2016 – with a massive tasting in New York City during the Barolo & Barbaresco World Opening, part of the Top Tales campaign. The quality of the 2020 vintage is very similar to that of 2016 and we have every reason to think that 2020 wines as well will achieve important goals and high scores”.

For more information and the latest updates regarding Barolo & Barbaresco, please contact Luca Venturelli at lventurelli@colangelopr.com.

About Top Tales:
Top Tales is a project supported by the European Union aimed at promoting Fontina DOP from Valle d’Aosta, Rice di Baraggia Biellese e Vercellese DOP, as well as the DOCG’s Barolo and Barbaresco. The European communication campaign Top Tales: A piece of Europe on your table, is designed to increase the awareness of the three DOP products in the United States market.

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Luca Venturelli

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