Allegrini 2018

Grape harvest, it’s time for whites: quantity is decreasing, but what a quality

Meanwhile, from Friuli to Alto Adige, from Soave to Gavi, from Marche to Campania, towards the harvest there is great optimism
The harvest begins for the whites too

With the first bunches of grapes in the cellar, in the top territories of the Italian sparkling wine industry, the 2020 vintage is already in full swing, and in the next few days it will be the turn of the whites, which, to tell the truth, have already taken their first steps, both in Sicily and Umbria, but also in some of the top red areas, such as Brunello di Montalcino, Sagrantino di Montefalco and Barbaresco, starting with the more precocious international varieties, from Sauvignon to Pinot Grigio, passing through Chardonnay, while for the great natives, from Friulano to Verdicchio to Grechetto, it will take a few more days. The impressions, however, are positive, the seasonal trend and the state of health of the vineyard, from Trentino Alto Adige to the Amalfi Coast, as told to WineNews by some of the producers who are symbols of the white wine production of the Belpaese, give hope for a truly excellent vintage, galvanized by these last few days, in which the temperature range between the heat of the day and the coolness of the night promises aromatic richness and great elegance. In short, it seems that nature is somehow trying to give back what it took away during the months of the pandemic, with a vintage that is quantitatively on average with the latest harvests, and qualitatively very promising.
We start from Sicily, from Planeta, where the collection of whites is already well advanced. “The harvest began days ago, we preferred to move early to ensure freshness and elegance to what will be the 2020 vintage”, says Alessio Planeta, at the helm of the Sicilian label. “So, the Sauvignons are already in the cellar, Chardonnay and Grillo are well underway, and we have also started harvesting the Viognier and Moscato grapes. We expected something more in terms of quantity, instead it will be a campaign below average, 10%, but it is not a problem, after all that we have experienced in recent months it was important to ensure quality production, more than quantity, and from that point of view we are definitely satisfied”.
Also in Umbria, as anticipated, the harvest began, starting with the grapes of Cervaro della Sala, the Marchesi Antinori brand, where one of the most celebrated and award-winning whites of Italy is born, where “the Chardonnay grapes of Castello della Sala guarantee excellent quality, while in terms of quantity it will be a harvest decidedly poorer than average”, says the ad of Marchesi Antinori, Renzo Cotarella. Not far away, even between the rows of Arnaldo Caprai, the symbol of Sagrantino di Montefalco, “the harvest of the international, Chardonnay and Sauvignon, began under the sign of quality and balance between acidity and aromatic richness. For Grechetto, on the other hand, there is still a few more days to go”, explains Marco Caprai, at the helm of the Umbrian winery.
In Trentino Alto Adige, between the rows of San Michele Appiano, “the harvest will begin in two weeks, even if someone has already started to harvest the sparkling wine bases. The grapes are not yet ripe, in the hills, at 450 meters, we will wait until September 7. The grapes are beautiful”, says Hans Terzer, historic winemaker of the South Tyrolean winery, “and the yields, after the green harvest, are on average in recent years. Let’s hope that the weather will be clement, and to bring so much quality to the cellar”.
Even on the Collio area there is optimism, as Ornella Venica, at the helm of the Friulian label, says that on Monday they will start “to harvest the early varieties, then Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio, from the younger vineyards, those around the winery. After such difficult months, in which we lost 30% of the turnover, it is nice that nature gives us something back, that is, beautiful grapes, daughters of a perfect vintage: rain at the right time, then the heat, now the perfect temperature range to give aromas and scents to the grapes. In terms of quantity, on the other hand, the territory has decided to cut 20% of the 110 quintals per hectare provided for by the regulations: perhaps we could have opted for storage, but in fact there is still a lot of wine in the cellars”.
Not far away, on the Colli Orientali del Friuli, the music does not change, and plays the notes “of a vintage that promises great quality. We will start harvesting the international varieties, such as Pinot Grigio, in the first days of September - explains Annalisa Zorzettig, head of the family winery - and then continue with the native varieties, and then Ribolla and Friulano. Here the weather was perfect, it rained at the right time and now the temperature changes will give us interesting aromas and scents: we will know more at the beginning of September, when the first bunches will arrive in the cellar”.
In the Marches, land of Verdicchio but not only, “the ripening of the grapes is proceeding well, a few days ahead of seasonal averages, the plants are very well, and the grapes - says Michele Bernetti, at the head of the Marche brand, Umani Ronchi - are beautiful and healthy. Apart from a little hail, from which, however, we saved ourselves, there was no problem, and if in terms of quantity it will be a rebound year compared to 2019, at a qualitative level cold mornings will guarantee acidity and elegance. At the beginning of September we will start from the vineyards of the plains, to continue following the heights and obviously the ripening of the other vineyards”.
It will be “an early harvest at Gavi, where sunny and hot days follow one another”, as Roberto Ghio, president of the Gavi Consortium, says. “The nights that go on cooling down are instead preparatory to scents and aromas. So far, the trend has been perfect and the grapes are definitely healthy, I think the right day to start harvesting could be September 10”.
The situation between the heroic rows of Marisa Cuomo, on the Amalfi Coast, is decidedly more complex: “we are slightly late, after a fresh and humid spring, which only ended in June. Ours is a harvest that, as always, will know 3 or 4 different harvest periods. On the sea it could start on September 10, on the high ground in November, without any homogeneity, because we grow many native varieties - from very old vineyards - each with its own timing, and we have never adopted modern farming systems, and this means yields of about 60 quintals per hectare”.
Finally, the Soave, where the summer months have recorded temperatures without extremes, ventilation and a perfect water supply that have led the vines to be luxuriant and healthy, without attacks of downy mildew or other diseases. The Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave vineyards are therefore in excellent condition with an average production of 450,000 hectoliters. The harvest, for the lands of Soave, is therefore scheduled for September 20. “We are preparing for an extremely promising harvest on the one hand, and on the other hand with some clouds on the horizon - says Sandro Gini, president of the Consortium - our Consortium has also shown itself to be reactive and able to respond to the problems that have arisen and we are sure that it will be able to react promptly in the future”.

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