Italian Vintage Report - 1990's

by FINE Magazines

With the advent of the 1990s, Italian wine production finally entered the modern age. The pioneers of modern winemaking had succeeded in their efforts to show the world, not to mention politicians, the potential of Italian wine production. This was demonstrated in 1992 with the implementation of the new IGT classification, whose purpose was to lift the super wines out of the Vina da Tavola category from the disgraceful Italian quality classification system. Conversely, a number of producers gave up their DOC or DOCG classifications and marketed their wines as IGTs, such as Angelo Gaja’s Barbaresco and Barolo cru wines and Roberto Anselmi’s Soave wines.


Toward the end of the decade, the production of Italian wines had evolved to such an extent that each of the 20 wine producing regions boasted internationally competitive wines. Development of Southern Italian winemaking ushered in a golden era for Campanian, Apulian and Sicilian wines. The real gold fever, however, struck Tuscany's coastal regions, Borgheri and Maremma. This development was largely brought about by the success of the Sassicaia, which was granted DOC status in 1994. Indeed, Sassicaia wines have, in my opinion, been disappointing throughout the 1990s.


1990 was the ideal kickoff for this stunning decade. A hot and dry summer with cool nights and light rain set the stage for a small, but exceptional crop, perhaps the finest seen since the 1940s. Piedmont brought in an excellent crop for the third year in a row. However, the rains were distributed considerably more evenly in 1990. Tuscany enjoyed similar weather conditions, and, as in Piedmont, the grapes ripened earlier than usual. Overall, 1990 produced very elegant, nuanced, ripe fruited and concentrated wines, which still have great maturation potential.


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