A mixed vintage in Italy, with the almost furnace-like August heat causing seriously disrupting the ripening season in many regions. In Piedmont the vintage is being hailed as the 6th consecutive excellent one. Being situated in the far northwest and given the relatively high altitude of many of the vineyards led to the region escaping the very worst of the August heat although it was still very warm. The harvest began earlier than normal, because of the heat, and the vast majority of growers had their harvest in before the rains hit the region from mid-October onwards. It's early days but the best wines are looking to be similar in style to the classic 1996s. If August was hot in Piedmont, then it was positively roasting in Tuscany. Many grapes turned to raisins and the heavy October rains then compounded growers` problems. However, the best producers managed to produce excellent wines through effective vineyard management, harvesting before the October rains, and through making a very careful selection of the grapes.