Piedmont 2016: Il Sogno!

Piedmont 2016: Il Sogno!

Friday 6th March 2020
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Piedmont 2016 Vintage Report: Il Sogno!

2016 has made a reputation for itself as a great vintage in Piedmont. On the evidence of the wines our buying team tasted in February, such a tag is well-justified.  Its place amongst the pantheon of top vintages is assured. The question is whether it surpasses legendary years such as 2013, 2010 and 2001. Many believe it does. People will judge for themselves and no doubt time will tell but, for now, what we can say is that we were thoroughly impressed by this thrilling and harmonious vintage that teeters somewhere between classical and modern in style. Classical in the sense that the wines display fresh acidities and veins of pure, crisp fruit, but modern in the sense of greater attention to detail in the vineyard and the cellar; gentle extractions, restraint in favour of power, and tactile, sophisticated, ripe fruit profiles displaying none of the rusticity sometimes seen in the past. Indeed, 2016, although early days, has every potential to set a new bar for the region’s most dynamic, terroir-driven producers – many of whom are represented in our offer today. Furthermore, the growing trend for more neutral oak and lower density wines is has imbued many of these 2016s with a newfound clarity – it is potentially the most graceful vintage of modern times.         

The growers we spoke to consider 2016 to be along the same qualitative lines as 2001 and 2010, if less “daunting” than the latter. Several producers also described it as a more complete version of 2013. Almost everyone we spoke to used the words “classic” and “great.” We found the wines to be beautifully assured and composed. Polished but pure examples of Nebbiolo. They show well young but have the balance and intensity to suggest a long life.


A word on the growing season. For many, 2016 was the perfect season growing season with nothing too eventful happening. Just how the growers like it. Spring was cool but dry. There were only five rains between March and May, which edged the vines along without creating undue mildew pressure. Two more showers in June was perfectly normal, and a couple of well-timed rains in July and August helped disperse any excessive heat and nourished the vines. A small area of localised hail in La Morra lowered yields, but overall, the summer was consistently warm but moderate. In September the days were around the 23-25C degree mark whilst nights were cooler. This provided the perfect conditions for Nebbiolo and allowed for a slow ripening and long hang time. It also meant grapes retained the freshness that all of the really magical Nebbiolo-based wines have. Fine weather allowed estates to wait and pick exactly when they wanted. Harvest began in October and lasted until the end of the month.


Here are the reactions to the vintage from a selection of our producers:


Luigi Scavino, Azelia - “2016 is even more classic than 2013. I compare it to 1982. There is more freshness than 2006, it is less daunting than 2010, and more elegant and finer than all other recent “classic” vintages.”


Enrica Scavino, Paolo Scavino - “2016, the vintage that producers all dream of!”


Silvia Altare, - “These wines will stack up against the great vintages like 2010 and 2001, and if you blink your eyes, the allocations will disappear!” 


Roberto Voerzio - “2016 is a classic. Similar to 2006 but better balanced and more attractive from the beginning.”


Pierguido Busso - “Classic like 2013 but more complete. There is a beautiful bouquet and fragrancy to the wines with the intensity of the best vintages. It is the vintage that, put together, is just… happy!”


Alex Sanchez, Brovia - “A very good, complete vintage. It combines a richness of fruit but keeps the elements of a cooler fresher vintage. Similar to 2013 but in 2016 I see a bit more fruit that can make the wines very appealing. If you are a purist then 2013 is more classical perhaps but we are talking about two truly exceptional vintages.”


Francesco Versio, Figli Luigi Oddero - “One of the best of the past 15-20 years. A perfect season. We have fruit, tannins, complexity and everything in 2016!”


Giorgio Conterno, Paolo Conterno - “The kind of vintage that only comes once in a while. A really classic typical expression of Barolo.”


Marco Marengo - “The weather was fantastic. Not too hot, regular weather, fresh wines with good balance and built around elegance. Similar to 2010 in profile or maybe 2004. A great vintage and a widespread success for our region.”

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