15 February 2021
In the Roero & Langhe in particular, the winter season was cold but not particularly snowy; in March, while Burgundy was burnt by frost, the Roero & Langhe enjoyed cold temperatures & dry days; April remained chilly & dry (compared to the warmer & damper April 2015); this continued into May, with temperatures mirroring the 2004-2016 average if just below; June was below the average, plotting a gradual curve (versus the heat spikes of June 2015); while July 2015 was dry & hot, July 2016 followed the average 2004-2016 graph, although the Barolo region was hit by hail, notably Santa Maria di La Morra, parts of Cannubi & Rocche dell’Annunziata on 26th & 27th July, bringing with it much needed rainfall too; August was cool & subdued, as it was in 2015, with rain at the end of the month; September 2016 was welcomed for its warmth, dryness & cool nights (2015 had been also but damper); while a normal mid-late October harvest was wrapped up with cold nights & dry, warm days.
Francesco Versio in Barbaresco’s Neive village noted the thicker skins compared to 2015. Stefano Conterno of Diego Conterno points to the balanced season with regular rains, no heat spikes, to the final twenty days pre mid-Oct harvest that were cold at night (5/6 degrees by night & 25 degrees by day) capturing the aromatics & acidities; Emanuela at F.lli Serio e Battista Borgogno in Cannubi recalled the cool August (& the attentions of hail) that gave thicker skins, while Alberto Alessandria recalls that come August there was concern if the (Nebbiolo) fruit would arrive to full maturity – as it happened his harvest on 20th October was one of his latest! Barbaresco’s Manuel Marinacci said it was a “strepitoso” (resounding) vintage marked by a long cool humid spring until 20th June, then a dry Summer with no rain (or hail as in Barolo), & perfect harvest conditions into mid-October, with quantity; Gian-Battista Alessandria, il capo of F.lli Alessandria & owner of some of the best-located parcels of Monvigliero, reeled off acidities of 7.50TA alongside 15% alcohols thanks to loose bunches of small berries & thick skins (as the plant was in good health); others point to a harvest that happened a week later than in 2015 (during the cooler mid-October period).
Maria-Teresa Mascarello noted that 2016 recalled a vintage of yesteryear: cold spring until end June, July warm but not hot like in 2015, then the marked drop in temperature on Ferragosto (15th Aug), which then rose up at the end of the month, while Sept/Oct were warm by day & distinctly chilly by night (helping the lignification/ripening of the seeds) with harvesting amid beautiful autumnal weather – storms had hit in July but without inflicting any significant damage (apart from parts of Santa Maria & lower Rocche dell’Annunziata), but serving to refresh the vines, given the fruit a shower & drop the temperature, with notable diurnal shift paved the way to a mid-Oct. classic harvest. So, a classic harvest of relatively disease-free fruit, high quality & good quantity, with the vine functioning well throughout the season to give high values in all departments (abv, acidity, tannins), thick skins, allowing for long macerations (if sought).