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Barolo 2023, a complicated vintage that will yield positive surprises: the state of the art

Deditus Association winemakers report: “great work in the vineyard. Thanks to experience we managed climate and downy mildew in the best possible way”

A difficult vintage from a climatic point of view, with extreme events - prolonged rainfall in late spring and anomalous heat in August, with peaks even at 40 degrees - and the complication of downy mildew, but one that, thanks above all to the experience and ability of the producers, presents a certainly positive balance, which could reserve excellent surprises from a quality and longevity point of view of the wines. This is the state of the art of the 2023 vintage in the Langhe, according to the winemakers of the Deditus Association (which includes Azelia, Cordero di Montezemolo, Sandrone, Michele Chiarlo, Pio Cesare, Poderi Gianni Gagliardo, Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Prunotto and Vietti), who draw an initial balance, while the harvest of Nebbiolo for Barolo is still underway. 2023 is a vintage in which nature has certainly not helped, and where the results, which promise to be special, will be guaranteed exclusively by the great work done in the vineyard and then in the cellar, as well as by the ability and experience of the individual producers.
Deditus is the association (the first nucleus of which was born in the 1990s, thanks to Gianni Gagliardo, for the Barolo Auction) that today brings together the great families of Langa, owners of directly managed vineyards within the borders of the Barolo appellation. It includes, among others, Stefano Gagliardo of Poderi Gianni Gagliardo, who does not hesitate to call the 2023 vintage “miraculous”: “despite the extreme weather, with uninterrupted rains in May and June, followed by an August with very high temperatures and anomalous autumn (which continues to this day), we were good at knowing how to manage the situation in the best possible way: this is the classic vintage in which the producer makes the difference. We have found, in some vineyards, partial burns in the bunches, and here, of course, comes into play the ability to know how to select the raw material. We have not, on the other hand, had any consequences for downy mildew: but this depends, above all, on the fact that, in Piedmont, we are more accustomed, compared to other areas, to rainy springs, and, therefore, we can count on greater experience”. From this point of view, the producers of Deditus (Azelia, Cordero di Montezemolo, Sandrone, Michele Chiarlo, Pio Cesare, Poderi Gianni Gagliardo, Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Prunotto and Vietti) are unanimous in confirming that, in the management of downy mildew, there are no major differences between organic and conventional approaches, but if anything between those who have experience and those who have been displaced, in other regions of Italy, by an anomalous situation. 
A position also confirmed by Eugenio Palumbo (Vietti): “we have managed to contain downy mildew through “surgical” harvesting in the vineyard. This doubled the harvest time, but thanks to experience - our territory is accustomed to rainy springs, and we are better prepared than other regions - we did not have any consequences”. “It is an interesting harvest, a real challenge for the producers”, Poderi Luigi Einaudi let us know, “we do not detect great consequences due to climatic effects, except for about ten days in August with 40 degrees where the grapes suffered some sunburn. At the moment we are still harvesting Nebbiolo for Barbaresco, we expect to finish around October 20”. He is joined by Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo of the Cordero di Montezemolo winery: “in uneven vintages like this one, characterized by many challenges from a climatic point of view - with the rains of May and June and downy mildew, albeit spotty - experience and the ability to make farsighted decisions essentially count: the result is a decidedly good vintage, but one that made us sweat. Hot weather is now a fact of life; we have learned to manage it from an agronomic point of view. Thinnings were done in early September, yields are slightly lower, but we find a fair amount of alcohol for the whites. Dolcetto and Barbera have already completed malolactic fermentation, while we started the harvest of Nebbiolo for Barolo yesterday”. Lorenzo Scavino (Azelia) also confirms that he started the Nebbiolo harvest a few days ago: “these difficult vintages make us realize how resilient our vines are, despite climate change: they are resilient, old plants with deep roots. This year was also complicated because we should not forget that we are coming from 2022, the driest vintage ever: then we were faced with persistent rains, followed by the great summer heat. Suffice it to say that if the temperature outside is 38 degrees, inside the grape is even 10 more, thus, 48 degrees. A situation that led us to make a maniacal selection in the vineyard, employing much more staff and more time. The results we face today are good, with average yields, high acidity and intense polyphenolic framework”. Luca Sandrone of the Luciano Sandrone winery explains that the Dolcetto and Barbera harvests have already finished, while the Nebbiolo for Barolo harvest has just begun: “we don’t want to be in a hurry, even though this heat is a bit scary, despite the fact that it is October there is little temperature range between day and night. This has been a crazy vintage, with one surprise after another. We delayed thinning, then harvested slowly and meticulously, bunch by bunch, focusing on the choice of grapes at harvest time. To date, the wines already in the cellar are excellent, with a nice balance”. Stefano Chiarlo (Michele Chiarlo) comments, on the other hand, “contrary to the hot vintages of the past, we find not too high alcohol content and interesting acidity. Yields are good and in our average, hovering around 55-60 quintals per hectare in the crus”. The Nebbiolo harvest began, very recently, in Barbaresco, at Pio Cesare winery: “so far the grapes we have brought to the winery have given us great satisfaction: we believe it will be a vintage to remember, with great aging potential. Excellent auspices also for the whites, which we harvested at the beginning of September”.

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