Wine Spectator: Magnificent Wines From a Flawless Vintage 2000
by James Suckling
If you're buying 2000 Barolo, you can practically find an outstanding wine with your eyes closed.
Some may say these extraordinary tasting results are inflated owing to my love of
Roberto Voerzio, who made two 100-point wines in 2000, is just as enthusiastic about the vintage. "2000 will be a difficult year to repeat," he says. "If I had a remote control to order the weather, I couldn't have asked for better climate conditions than those we had. It rained when it should have; was hot at the right time; it was a more balanced growing season than the 1997. The 1997s and the 2000s are the best wines I've ever made. It's hard to say which I prefer now, but I would say that the 2000s win the day because of the extra finesse they display."
Angelo Gaja too produced a perfect wine from
Many producers have made the greatest wines of their careers in 2000. It is a vintage that arrived just as many young winemakers had mastered the vineyard and cellar techniques they'd honed in the outstanding 1999, 1998, 1997 and 1996 vintages. The 1997 vintage was an extremely hot and dry year, like 2000. "These are the best wines we have ever made," asserts Enzo Revello. His single-vineyard Barolos Rocche dell'Annunziata (97, $90) and Vigna Gattera (95, $60) were among the best wines of my tasting. "In the last few years, we have really worked hard to make the best possible wines. We have greatly reduced our yields in the vineyards and we have used less new wood in maturing the wines. We want to emphasize the fruit in the wines." For the most part, Revello and other top producers in the region attribute the unprecedented quality of their wines to success in their vineyards in 2000. This continues a trend from other recent vintages. The best producers are not slaves to high technology in winemaking. They are simply striving to grow the best grapes and then to transform them into wine with minimum intervention.
"2000 is like 1997, but I think it will be even better, because there was less quantity in the vineyard the lower yields came naturally," says Elio Grasso, one of the region's most respected Barolo producers. "Years like 2000 and 1997 allow us to really reflect the character of Nebbiolo in a modern way."
In the past decade, there's been much debate over modern versus traditional styles of Barolos, but the discussion should be more about the quality of the wines' tannins. Recent top vintages of Barolo, such as 2001, 2000, 1998 and 1997, have ripe and generous tannins, the result of wine producers' determination to pick their grapes at the optimum time. Some have argued that 2000 will be an early-maturing vintage because of its generous, up-front character and ripe, velvety texture. But they have misunderstood these wines. The 2000 Barolos have loads of tannins but they are richer and riper than the tannins of any previous vintage save 1997. "Some people think that a great Barolo has to be hard, tannic and aggressive, but it's just not the case," argues Voerzio. He has been pouring his 2000s in recent months at events across
Indeed, the style of the 2000 Barolos should change the minds of many wine connoisseurs about Nebbiolo, and it will attract many new consumers to this unique grape. Nebbiolo has always gotten a bad rap for being too tannic, almost bitter on the palate. But recent advances in the region's nearly 3,000 acres of vineyards have transformed the wines into cleaner, softer reds. The most important change has been harvesting grapes with riper tannins and slightly higher sugar levels. Some critics say that this has made the wines too modern, almost too attractive, but the bonus is that the wines are more accessible when young yet are well-structured for aging. Most of the 2000 Barolos will be very drinkable by about 2008 but will improve for many years beyond that. "It's the sign of a great wine," says Revello. "The 2000 Barolos are approachable when young but they will improve with age for many, many years to come." I suggest drinking the 1999 and 1998 vintages in Barolo (also Barbaresco) for the moment, and leaving the 2000s, 1997s and 1996s to mature in bottle. Otherwise, top-quality 1995s, 1993s, 1990s, 1989s and 1988s are also excellent bottles to drink now.
The big problem will be finding these wines. As always, the best Barolos (as well as Barbarescos) are very limited in production. For example, the total production of the five wines that I scored 100 points is about 3,000 cases, and only about 300 cases will be available in the
European bureau chief James Suckling is Wine Spectator's lead taster on the wines of