Allegrini 2018

The vineyards of Italy smile at the producers: from South Tyrol to Sicily, there is optimism

From Langhe to Marsala, the synthesis speaks of good grapes everywhere, but almost never in abundance. And some hope for a memorable harvest
The grape harvest in Franciacorta, among the first territories to cut the bunches

With a thousand worries coming from the markets of the world, all still more or less strongly slowed down by the effects of the pandemic, most of the wine producers of Italy breathe a little optimism looking at the vineyard. As told, to WineNews, by some of the most important enologists of the Belpaese, from Carlo Ferrini to Giuseppe Caviola, from Riccardo Cotarella to Donato Lanati, and as testified by the words of many important wineries throughout the country. In the Langhe are the 75 hectares of Pio Cesare, historical reality and among the qualitative references of the territory, to record a vintage “not exceptionally hot and slightly ahead of tradition, not because of the too hot summer but because of the early spring”. According to Federica Boffa, the fifth generation of the property, “the vegetative cycle had an early start, then from the second half of April and throughout May temperatures dropped, accompanied by even heavy rains that generated a good reserve of water useful to cope with the summer, causing a very positive slowdown in ripening. We will start harvesting the white grapes, healthy and with a good concentration, already in the first days of September while for Nebbiolo we will obviously have to wait until October”.
Another privileged point of view of the Langhe is that of Damilano, which with its collection of Barolo Cru - including two on the Cannubi hill - can tell the status quo of vineyards of excellence. “The harvest looks interesting” explains Guido Damilano. “There were rains in May and June, weeks of intense heat in summer that led us to monitor the vineyards very closely, and now the situation is positive. The ideal would be to have a nice dry and sunny September. To date, the Nebbiolo on the vines is healthy and in the right quantity. The harvest in Cannubi could be in mid-October”.
In Trentino, in San Leonardo, a historic maison run by Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga, it is no mystery to wait for a splendid vintage. “After the rains in May, we had a surprising summer: lots of sunshine but also cool nights and a last splash of rain at the beginning of August, just to quench the thirst of the vines”.
Remaining in Trentino, there is a decidedly positive sentiment even among the rows of the Trentodoc of Ferrari, the reference winery in the area, where harvest has already begun ten days ago, a little early, but with the “2020 which looks like a vintage with excellent potential”, explains Marcello Lunelli, vice president and technical manager of Cantine Ferrari. “While the climatic trend of the first six months anticipated the vegetative growth of the vine, the month of July, on the other hand, differentiated the maturation of the Chardonnay according to the altitude, making us expect a well-distributed harvest over time”, explains Lunelli.
Even in South Tyrol, morale is high. It is “a vintage that promises to be of excellent quality. The grapes are very healthy and during the past year, thanks also to the climate, we did not have any problems related to diseases. Now we are confident that the weather will stabilize and give us the sunny days and cool nights typical of our wine region”, Hans Terzer, Winemaker of the Cantina di San Michele Appiano and president of the South Tyrolean Kellermeister Association.
A thought shared also by Andrea Moser, technical director of Cantina Kaltern, a microcosm with over 450 hectares of vineyards, where the harvest has just begun: “the rain has been a challenge for our winemakers, but the summer has put things in place and today the quality of the grapes gives us hope”.
Same music in Franciacorta, as Giulio Barzanò of the label Il Mosnel explains: “the rains that punctuated the vintage dictated the line in the vineyard, imposing constant monitoring and many treatments. The climatic trend has led to slow ripening and interesting aromatic complexities. We are facing a rich and “soft” harvest and thanks to the last few sunny weeks, we have been harvesting grapes with a good balance between sugars and acidity that allow us to foresee an excellent vintage”.
From Friuli Venezia Giulia comes the testimony of Alex Maccan, at the helm of Le Monde: “we are already harvesting, with Pinot Nero and sparkling wine bases we started last week, now it's the turn of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco, and expectations are good. There are no problems in the vineyard, on the contrary it’s a great vintage in quality, even if the quantity has reduced more than we thought, but we see a good harvest, musts and fermentations are going well, so for now we are happy”.
Even in Veneto, beyond the cloudburst that in recent days has heavily affected 4-5% of the vineyards of Valpolicella, the vineyard seems to give optimism. As Diego Cottini, at the helm of Monte Zovo, says, over 150 hectares, especially between Valpolicella and Lugana. “The harvest began with Pinot Grigio in our Caprino Estate, which is organically grown, the quantity is not abundant but the grapes are of excellent quality both for acidity and sugar content. Things are going well, next week we will start with Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and if it continues like this it will be a good year for the whites, but we expect good things for the reds as well. We are defoliating in Valpolicella, the grapes are already in a good state of ripeness, and we will harvest around September 10-15. We have very cool nights here, we are between 300 and 900 meters, in the north of Verona, if the weather does not do other tricks we are fine, nature is giving us good fruits. Not abundant, but of quality. I have not seen a grain of rot, and this is very important”.
The sentiment of one of the brands in the area, Romano dal Forno, is also positive, as Roberto Merlo of Uva Sapiens, who works with the winery, explains: “the season has been sufficiently cool, the rainy and violent episodes that have been seen through the media in recent days have not affected the Val d’Illasi. The ripening trend, which is slightly later than the historical one for this area, will favor the postponement towards mid-September of the harvest of the grapes destined for Amarone. Consequently, the harvest will take place in climatic conditions with pleasant temperatures, as tradition dictates. It is necessary to wait for the next two or three weeks to have further elements for an evaluation of the vintage, but at this moment there are all the prerequisites to consider it remarkable in terms of quality”.
Great enthusiasm even among the rows of Prosecco, as Giancarlo Moretti Polegato of the Villa Sandi brand tells us: “We have good production, it was hot and also the rains that were needed, and it is important because there are no irrigations in the hills. We started with the early varieties, then Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, in line with the times of last year, and not in advance as it seems to happen in June. There is great enthusiasm, there is really a beautiful grape, from the point of view of aromas and more. And it is an evaluation that unites both the area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Docg, and Asolo and Doc, in the plains, we are confident that it is a vintage to remember of quality, although perhaps there will be a little less quantity. With the Glera we will start around September 10th, from the plains to the hills, and here too there are great expectations, there are great temperature excursions between day and night that are fundamental, and we hope that the harvest will give us some of that positivity that is much needed”.
There is still time to wait in the Soave for the Garganega, and for the Trebbiano, as already told to WineNews by the producer and president of the Consorzio Sandro Gini, who emphasizes how the area is “preparing for an extremely promising harvest, thanks to the summer months that have recorded temperatures without extremes, ventilation and a perfect water supply that have led the vines to be lush and healthy, without attacks of downy mildew or other diseases”.
Again, positive comments come from Marcella Toffano, at the helm of the PuntoZero winery, from the Berici Hills, in the Vicentine Terre del Palladio in the area of the Colli Berici: “we have started the white wines, Incrocio Manzoni and Pinot Bianco, which are very beautiful and do not have excessive alcohol content, but given the not too good weather forecast for the next few days we have anticipated the operations a little bit. So far things have gone perfectly from an agricultural point of view”.
“Excellent conditions from the point of view of quality and productivity in line with the company’s averages”, explains Diego Bosoni from Liguria, at the helm of the pearl of the Levante Ligure, Cantine Lvnae, where “a summer without excessive peaks in temperature, which is gradually bringing the grapes to maturity”.
Going down to the center, there is Tuscany, land of Sangiovese, and here there is still some time left before the harvest, but expectations are positive. In Chianti Classico, for example, Francesco Ricasoli, at the helm of the historic Castello di Brolio, argues that “analyses of the early varieties show normal ripening for low sugar content, acidity and malic acid. The grapes are tonic, balanced and good-looking. The quantity will not be high but the quality will be very good. After all, if it is true that the rains in July and August did not show up, it is also true that the temperature changes between day and night have touched in Brolio even 17 degrees of difference: a flywheel for the phenolic maturity of the grapes”.
Again, Castello di Querceto speaks of “healthy grapes in the veraison phase, as they should be”, while Léon Femfert of the Nittardi brand confirms that “the rains of May have dampened the dry summer climate, and expectations are good”.
Positive sentiment also in Montalcino, as Emilia Nardi of Tenute Silvio Nardi recounts, one of the most important realities of Brunello di Montalcino: “it was a hot and little rainy year but not extreme. The rains in November with the relative water reserves made the difference. Today the vineyards are in balance and we expect good quality”. Also in Val d’Orcia, at Tenuta di Trinoro, this vintage is described as “a cooler vintage on average. August did not go out of line. The signs of evolution and ripening were punctual”, explains Andrea Franchetti.
Thumbs up also in Bolgheri, according to Leonardo Raspini, director of Tenuta Argentiera, one of the most beautiful realities of the territory: “there are the prerequisites for a good year, then how good it really is we will see in the coming days. We will start with Vermentino and Merlot in line with our timing, then in early September, to arrive in the highest vineyards between late September and early October. We will start next week with excellent prospects, the grapes are in balance and have done good veraison and ripening despite a bit of drought, but we see grapes that have not suffered. Although it rained very little during the year, in May we had rains that allowed us to arrive in July with the vegetative plants and with a very good ripening of the grapes. Probably it will be a harvest more compressed in time, and this is a trend that we have been seeing for some years now, because of the small or large climate changes that we are experiencing. In Argentiera, the fact that we have vineyards at different altitudes helps us in this”.
Again, on the Pisan hills, where the vineyards of Tenuta di Ghizzano are located, the dry summer has contributed to the ripening of a beautiful and regular grape. Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini smiles: “The rains in June followed by a sunny July and August guaranteed a beautiful end of ripening, without water stress. And now we begin the harvest”.
Remaining at the Center, the harvest in Umbria began with the white varieties, as testified by Renzo Cotarella, general manager of Antinori, and guide of one of the reference wineries of the Italian white production, Castello della Sala: “we started with the Chardonnay, which is little but very good, balanced and tasty. There is a drop in quantity of -30% compared to last year, and I believe that slowly, if the season does not change a little bit, there will be a decrease in production in general, but it is too soon to get out of balance. I am now in Puglia (where Antinori owns Tormaresca, ed.) among the vineyards of Negramaro, and here we will still miss 15-20 days. And if a little water arrives just right it doesn’t hurt, and that’s true everywhere”.
Positive feelings also from the Marche region for Verdicchio, as Michele Bernetti of Umani Ronchi, the reference winery of the territory, tells us: “the quality seems excellent, the walks in the vineyard confirm the conditions for a good harvest. Maturation varies a bit depending on the area, but the timing is quite in line with those of recent years, and next week, if there are no surprises or storms, we should start harvesting. The quantity seems slightly more abundant than 2019, but in the norm compared to the average of the last years”.
Very good sensations also from the Islands. From Sardinia comes the testimony of Massimo Ruggero, managing director of Siddùra, one of the most important realities of the territory: “we had the rains at the ideal time, the plants are prosperous and rich in fruit: we think it will be a good harvest. The weather is also assisting us thanks to ideal temperature excursions, because during the night the temperatures are falling and this will have its influence especially in terms of aroma and acidity”.
Great optimism also in Sicily. “We started in Mozia, and there is a very good grape, while in Regaleali we collected the sparkling wine bases and then the early varieties - explains Alberto Tasca, at the helm of Tasca d’Almerita, one of the most important realities of the island - and in terms of quantity for now we are increasing on 2019, but down by -10-12% on 5 years. However, less than I feel in other areas of Sicily. The condition of the grapes is very good, in Regaleali we had a beautiful rain in June on clayey soil that did not disperse, and this helped us a lot. It's too early to get out of balance, especially for the red varieties, but never as much as this year, considering everything that has happened, is there a desire to do things at their best and to bring an excellent harvest to the cellar”.
Things are going well on Mount Etna too, even if it will take some more time, as Vincenzo Lo Mauro, director of Passopisciaro, says: “there is a fresh vintage with a foliar development out of the ordinary. I predict a very good vintage, but to talk about harvesting it is too early: we usually harvest in November”.
From the Marsala area, however, come the considerations of Mattia Filippi, winemaker of Uva Sapiens who follows one of the most successful wineries for Marsala and beyond, Marco de Bartoli: “the 2020 season came in late spring with cool temperatures and north winds loaded with moisture during the night hours; it was a delicate moment from the viticultural point of view. The summer season was characterized conversely by temperatures above average but with the absence of sirocco winds and rainy phenomena. The average weights of the grapes are slightly lower than the historical average and therefore the yields per hectare remain low. The conditions described will affect first of all Grillo, the main variety of Trapani, leading to a slight advance of the harvest. From the first wines obtained we can see a good acidic picture, marked aromaticity as far as the whites are concerned and good polyphenolic concentration on the reds”.
To give an overview, from North to South of the Belpaese, finally, is Daniele Simoni, from Schenk Italian Wineries, which with vineyards and wineries goes from Trentino Alto Adige to Sicily, passing through Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, Marche, Abruzzo, Puglia and Sardinia. “The favorable climate and the careful management of the vineyards prefigure a truly positive vintage, from north to south of the country. This year we will start harvesting a week earlier than 2019, because the quality of the grapes is already generally very good throughout the peninsula, including Sardinia, which has experienced major drought problems in the last two years. As far as our two flagship wineries, Bacio della Luna in Valdobbiadene and Lunadoro in Montepulciano, land of Vino Nobile, are concerned, we are really optimistic: despite a very rainy spring, the hot weather in July and August led to excellent vegetative development and today the grapes are at their best, both from a health and quality point of view. With these premises, together with the careful management of the company and the vineyard that we have developed over the years, we are confident that we will start from excellent conditions for a harvest that promises to be really excellent”.

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