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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Nicolas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani

The 2002 vintage has lost its stars. The incredible run of seven fat years in Barolo (1995-2001), when the previous record had been a mere three (1988-90), was brutally broken on Tuesday 3 September when a horrific hailstorm wrought devastation upon Italy's most prestigious vine-growing zone. The storm was not just unprecedentedly violent, it was unusual in that it did not strike in bands, or over a period of a few minutes, as is usually the case, but poured destruction for more than half an hour on a wide area of the communes of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and, to a lesser extent, La Morra, Serralunga and Monforte. The imminence of the harvest renders, for some, virtually useless any attempt to improve matters with specific treatments. Growers like Roberto Voerzio, Sandrone, Vietti and Mauro Mascarello can do nothing other than calculate the damage'. Giovanni Minetti, president of the Consortium of Alba wines, reckons that the loss will be in the area of 8 million bottles of Barolo. Those who haven't lost everything will need to reduce production drastically by picking out the damaged bunches and leaving only those which are healthy. Meanwhile, all must pray for an end to the persistent rains which have cast such a cloud over Vintage Italy in 2002.