The dark age of Piedmont was the early 1990s. Fresh off the twin victories of 1989 and 1990, things just seemed to fall apart. The 91s and 92s completely sucked. The 93s were drinkable, but not great. The 1994s were worse. The 1995s were actually considered good, but only because the Piedmontese were dying to have something to celebrate.
Then suddenly, everything changed. 1996 was a great Piedmont vintage. And since then every vintage has been either good or great, with the sole exceptions of 2002 and 2003.
It’s not just Mother Nature that’s been kind. Producers have been steadily upping their game as well. Farming improved dramatically. Green harvests were introduced. Sorters were introduced. Cellars were cleaned up.
Yes, some producers got a little too oaky, but those excesses are now disappearing. And with enough time, many of those wines have eaten the oak and begun to show some terroir.
In short, since 1996, a phenomenal amount of delicious Barolo and Barbaresco has been produced.
And guess what? If you agree that great Barolo and Barbaresco vintages start to show best around age 20, we’ve finally entered a golden age of drinkable Nebbiolo.
Start cracking those ‘96s! But even better, look at vintages that are somewhat less “great,” and therefore readier to drink than ‘96s. 1997s, ‘98s and even ‘05s are delicious to drink now. There’s so much to chose from!
We frequently get bottles from these vintages but they sell out instantly, often before they get to our web site. Please be sure to sign up for our newsletter here (just scroll down a little bit) to learn about these opportunities in advance.