The Current Vintages of Italian Fine Wine: Brunello 19, Barolo 20 and Barbaresco 21.


The 2019 Brunello vintage is one of quality and quantity: the perfect outcome for Montalcino growers.

Following a fairly wet winter that allowed for an ideal accumulation of water reserves, an equally wet spring prevailed that temporarily halted bud growth. Speeding up the vegetative cycle, summer brought with it hot and regular temperatures that started in June and followed all the way through the season, without any dangerous peaks in heat or rainfall. Producers highlight the favourable diurnal range in the summer months. In Altesino’s case (northern Montalcino) the difference in air temperature between day and night sometimes reached even 20ºC. This, according to Laura at Gianni Brunelli, was one of the main factors leading to her 19’s being so rich in concentration of fresh varietal fragrances, most notable in her best vintages.

September was marked by warm temperatures and limited rainfall, which gracefully adverted potential outbreaks and allowed harvest to begin midway through the month in the south of Montalcino in abundant quantities. Here, Tenuta Buon Tempo were extremely pleased with their yields, with the 2019 vintage smashing previous records. They were particularly happy with the results coming from their Podere Oliveto parcel, which in 2018 and 2017 recorded the lowest harvest in its history of with only 18.9 tons of grapes picked. Meanwhile, in the northern areas, final grape picking took place in early October. Again here, yields were generous across the board.

The resulting wines are powerful and elegant with excellent phenolic and aromatic profiles, boding well for complexity and longevity. A simply superb year for Brunello.



After a ‘classic’ 2019 vintage that followed a decidedly more conventional course, the 2020 vintage for Barolo was ideal climatically and posed few issues for growers.

Winter was mild with little precipitation and snow, and March and April were sunny and dry. In May, there was a notable increase in rainy days which continued into late June and required growers to mitigate some early fungal attacks, albeit replenishing depleting water reserves. In July and August, temperatures expectedly rose with evenly spread-out rains, guaranteeing regular and blissful conditions for veraison and ripening. September rolled around with plenty of sunshine, allowing the Nebbiolo grapes to be picked between the end of September and the beginning of October.

Producers holistically reported a stable and ideal growing season. Marco Oberto from Ciabot Berton underlined that the 2020 vintage had a very long growing season which lasted over 200 days, “starting from an early budding, occurring in the second half of March, to a classic harvest, which began at the end of September”. This allowed for the optimal accumulation of sugar and acidity levels, along with a highly favourable polyphenolic profile, which are expected to yield well-balanced wines with great structure and fruit. Poderi Luigi Einaudi highlighted the all-round high quality of their fruit from their various MGAs, stating that their Nebbiolo grapes were in fantastic condition at harvest. The moderate nighttime temperatures led to a rapid accumulation of polyphenols, which had already reached excellent levels by mid-September.

All in all, a very, very positive year for Barolo.



The 2021 vintage began with a mild winter that had plenty of rain and occasional snowfall, providing the season ahead with good water reserves. The last of the cold weather came at the beginning of spring, which limited damage caused by frost. After this, a prolonged stretch of good weather began and continued throughout summer, featuring low rainfall and regular temperatures that remained consistent with the seasonal average. In July, strong storms hit various viticultural areas in Piemonte, but thankfully most of Barolo and Barbaresco came out unscathed.

Despite a generally regular growing season, some producers, including Poderi Luigi Einaudi had to deal with some spring frosts late on and hail from the aforementioned summer storms along with some drought-like conditions. However, they were very pleased with the results in terms of both quality and quantity. Ideal growing and ripening conditions with optimal diurnal range in September meant that the Nebbiolo grapes were in great condition when harvest took place between the last days of September to mid-October.

A Barbaresco vintage with aromatic complexity and ageing potential at its forefront.



Jack Bielak, 2024