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Allegrini 2018
SEPTEMBER IMPRESSIONS

Harvest 2022, from Alto Adige to Sicily, producers in chorus: “vintage beyond expectations”

At WineNews, testimonials from many top producers in the Belpaese, from North to South, in a harvest almost everywhere toward the end and of quality

The great drought that alarmed almost the entire “Italian vineyard” until the end of August, then a substantial and consistent recovery thanks to the rains, which now, in view of the conclusion of the 2022 harvest, seem even too insistent and risk hampering the operations to close what, in any case, according to all producers, is a positive vintage in quality, not too poor in quantity, and in any case well beyond the expectations of only a few weeks ago. This is the synthesis picture that, from Alto Adige to Sicily, many leading producers in Italy confirm to WineNews (from Alois Lageder to Chiarlo, from Pio Cesare to Carpenè Malvolti, from Masi to Umani Ronchi, from Lungarotti to Antinori, from Tenute Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari to Col d’Orcia, from Rivera to Mastroberardino, from Argiolas to Donnafugata, to Tasca d’Almerita). With the voices of the producers who, in most cases, with grapes almost completely in the cellar (but, in some cases, with the first bunches still to be cut) sounded cautiously satisfied.
“It’s still early to make judgments about the wines”, says Clemens Lageder, at the helm of Alois Lageder, one of the most prominent wineries in South Tyrol, “but we brought very good grapes to the cellar; we didn’t have so much drought in South Tyrol, it lacks some acidity but we are happy. The grapes were healthy, now we have to taste gradually musts and wines in their evolution in the cellar”. “In the end it was a much better harvest than we feared”, adds from the Piedmont of the Langhe and Monferrato, Alberto Chiarlo, at the top of the Michele Chiarlo label, “it was a very difficult year until the end of August because of the drought, with few grapes, and that they were not ripening in the right way. Then came 40 millimeters of rain that changed things, and now we can say it was a vintage with grapes of great quality potential, and quantity in line with 2021, especially looking at Barolo and Barbaresco. And, therefore, what could have been an even worse vintage than 2003, has become a very good vintage in terms of quality, and not poor in quantity”. Echoing Chiarlo is Alessio Franco (Pio Cesare), a historic winery in the Langhe, Alba, led by Federica Boffa: “it is a much better harvest than we expected in May or June. Maturations are good, quantity is not abundant, but we expect very good things in quality, especially for the Nebbiolos”.
From Piedmont to Veneto, on the Prosecco front, the assessment of Domenico Scimone, head of Carpenè Malvolti, the winery where Prosecco di Conegliano and Valdobbiadene was born, is also positive. “Nature has given us a harvest as complex as the times we are living through. But it’s a very good vintage”, says the manager, “in terms of quality, lower in quantity by -15% on 2021 on the hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Unesco Heritage, and therefore for the Superiore and Docg segment, and we who are focused on this are happy because quality accompanies us once again and will allow us to make a product that is ever closer to excellence. For the lowland area of the Doc, on the other hand, on volumes, we should be in line with 2021”.
Even in Valpolicella, explains Alessandra Boscaini (Masi Agricola), one of the area’s leading wineries, it was a “heart-stopping year, the summer had us on edge because of the drought. Then the rains at the end of August relieved the vineyard, giving us a good harvest. A little sparse in quantity, but the quality is there. Now the grapes are resting, drying, and let’s see what happens in what is a crucial phase for the production of Amarone”.
Going down to the Marche region of Verdicchio and Rosso Conero, Michele Bernetti, at the helm of Umani Ronchi, the region’s flagship winery, and also president of the Istituto Marchigiano Vini, speaks of a “harvest that exceeded expectations on the July and August forecasts”. “As we were harvesting, particularly on Verdicchio, we found an unexpected quality, the few rains in August increased the quantity and bring us to a +15% over 2021, which, however, had been a very poor year. And also on the reds, which we are still harvesting, but I would say it looks like a very good vintage”. From the Marche to the Umbria of Torgiano and Montefalco, the step is short, and the picture similar, as Chiara Lungarotti, a producer with one of the wineries that marked the renaissance of Umbrian wine, explains. “From the point of view of quality, we are in line with our expectations”, she explains, “while in quantity it was a more generous harvest than expected, thanks mainly to the mid-September rains, which changed things in an important way. The varieties, both white and red, are in the cellar, in Torgiano, while in Montefalco the Sagrantino is still on the vines, and we are still waiting some time for optimal ripening”.
Moving on to Tuscany, things are not yet done, but almost, as Alessia Antinori, who, with her sisters Albiera and Allegra, is at the top of Marchesi Antinori, a winery that is a reference point for Italian wine, present in all the most important territories of the Grand Duchy, from Chianti Classico to Montalcino, from Bolgheri to Montepulciano, and beyond, explains. “We are two-thirds of the way through the harvest, we have another 15-20 days ahead, perhaps the most important part. I'm not overstating myself yet, but despite the forecasts, which were really bad because of the drought, in the end we have worked with the right timing, the quantities are good and the quality of the grapes is very interesting, so for now we are happy, then we will see”. Along the same lines is Giovanni Folonari, at the helm of another historic name in the wine of Tuscany and Italy, such as the Giovanni and Ambrogio Folonari Estates, also scattered among Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Bolgheri and Maremma. “It was not an easy harvest, in the end we had very good qualitative results despite the difficulties and a complex management of the soil, so as not to stress the plants already tested by drought. Fortunately after five consecutive years we avoided the spring frost, so we had a lot of grapes that, however, remained small. But very good, with very ripe tannins-the quality is very good. Unfortunately, we still have out almost all the Sangiovese, with very healthy grapes to date, so we hope it will stop raining to harvest. But the summary is: a very good harvest, 2022, not as poor as 2017, but not as abundant either, and very good quality, which is the most important thing”. Confirmation of something more than an “escaped danger” also comes from Santiago Marone Cinzano (Col d’Orcia), one of the historic Brunello di Montalcino wineries. “We saw a very dry winter and spring, as indeed was much of the summer, with lots of heat. Then in mid-August, heavy rains started, which lasted until mid-September, which helped to dilute the grapes, to bring temperature swings between day and night, and this helped us to achieve a more balanced ripening with good quantities. So, we are very satisfied with the harvest”.
“For us, the harvest is still only half over”, adds from Puglia, and the Castel del Monte area, Sabastiano De Corato of the Rivera winery, “because our varieties are late, and we will go until the end of October. It was a normal harvest for us. There is talk of drought, but we in Puglia are used to it and we have the ability to support the vines with drip irrigation, which we use carefully, because it is used to support the vines in difficult times, and nothing more. The 2022 is an almost perfect harvest, the health of the grapes is the right one, with no major diseases, the quantities are slightly increasing, +5%, on 2022, and so far we are absolutely satisfied”. “In Irpinia we have not yet started harvesting”, says, for his part, Piero Mastroberardino, guide of one of Campania’s most celebrated wineries, “we will start the first whites from next Monday, October 3. The grapes are healthy for now, but the rain is bothering a bit. The quantities are there, the rains also weighed down the bunch a bit, it can be a good harvest if after this stage we have some dryness, and we can harvest in ideal conditions. At the moment the situation is under control, but as always we are crossing our fingers and looking day by day”. Harvesting still in progress, but well underway, even in Sardinia, as Valentina Argiolas, who heads the family business, among the island’s oenological diamonds, explains. “We are more than halfway through, we are harvesting the red varieties, while all the whites are in the cellar. It’s a vintage that went beyond the forecast, because heat, little water and little temperature range made us a little anxious in the summer. Instead, the white grapes we have brought to the winery are excellent and very healthy, with no diseases, while for the reds we are in the middle of the harvest, we started with perfect grapes, then the rain started, and we hope it will stop so we can harvest well”.
Among the first regions to start, and with the harvest now over, except for Etna, is Sicily, from where come the voices of two leading wineries such as Donnafugata and Tasca d’Almerita. “In Sicily there are never so many grapes, in general, and even in 2022, especially if we look at 2021 and the average of the last 10 years. Certainly in Western Sicily”, explains Antonio Rallo, at the helm of Donnafugata and the Sicily Doc Consortium, “the reduction is 20% on 2021, but with optimal conditions and healthy grapes. So, we are very happy for the quality, a little less for the quantity, because already normally Sicily, and we as Donnafugata, produce quite little. Only 4 million hectoliters come from 98,000 hectares. We managed, however, and we are happy about that, to produce a little more in Pantelleria, thanks to the rain that helped us overcome drought and heat. Also towards the east, again, in the Vittoria area, there is less quantity but great quality. On Etna we have just finished the whites, and it would seem to be a good year, as well as for the reds. It will take a couple more weeks, but the premise is good”. “The harvest presented itself with very healthy grapes”, confirmed Alberto Tasca, head of the historic Tasca d’Almerita, “without disease. Between July and August the situation was worrying, due to a very prolonged drought. Instead, the plants resisted well, in the clay soils they behaved very well both in quantity and quality. It’s not over yet, we still have harvesting to do on Etna, there is the continuing threat of these violent storms, which, fortunately, are very localized, and not extended over large areas. But I would say that so far it is an exceptional 2022 vintage, completely unexpected”. A good certainty from which to look forward, then, in a market scenario, and beyond, that is more uncertain than ever.

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