Location: Ridgewood, NY
1999 Barolo and Barbaresco Retrospective
One of the most common discussions among Barolo drinkers are which vintages from the 1995 through 2001 vintage streak will rise to the top. It’s a debate that has been going on for years, and for quite some time, ’99 seemed to be a big question mark--until recently.
1999 had a great start, being a year that saw favorable conditions throughout the entire region. A warm summer with cool nights lent the grapes that much needed push and pull of heat to ripen, and a break at night retained balance and added aromatics. Maybe I was at a disadvantage, having never tasted these upon release. For me, most of these bottles were at least seven or eight years old before my first taste and may have been in a dormant stage. However, after this tasting, I can see that they are right on track.
Most of these wines are just entering their drinking window. I wouldn’t put them in the same league as ’96 for ageability, yet I would say there’s at least a decade of improvement in store for the majority of wines we tasted. What was troubling was the number of bottles that appeared to be suffering from unusually high amounts of volatile acidity. Lastly, there was the revelation that our wine of the night wasn’t a Barolo—It was a Barbaresco.