The 2017 growing year has brought us, without any doubt, the lightest crop in recent years. Italy’s regions have not turned in definitive figures yet, but the drop will be in the range of 20-25% nationwide.
The weather was, of course, the main culprit of this precipitous decrease. The 2016-17 winter brought practically no rain, and our hopes that spring would bring the necessary moisture were in vain. On the contrary, spring brought its own problems: late frosts and local hailstorms. Summer completed this sorry record, with temperatures that rose as high as 40oC and, still, no rain. The first rains finally arrived in the first weeks of September, bringing relief to our generous vineyards.
The start of vine growth was slightly earlier than in 2016, then the process slowed dramatically with plummeting temperatures in spring which in some parcels led to the loss of entire clusters, and caused indirect damage as well by negatively impacting development of the remaining clusters. Berry weight, once the heat of summer took its toll, was below average, which further reduced crop levels. Emergency irrigation was the one option that allowed us to limit weather-related losses and to bring in sound fruit to the cellar. The grapes ripened quite a bit earlier than in 2016, although patiently waiting and not rushing into the harvest once again paid off, since the early September rain and slightly cooler temperatures lengthened out the final development of sugars acids, and polyphenols. Overall, with the weather we saw, the health condition of the grapes was very satisfactory.
Picking started on 24 August, quite a bit earlier than 5 September in 2016, and we were through on 26 September. As usual, the first varieties in were the early-ripeners, Sauvignon and Chardonnay, which showed right from the outset impressive concentration. But the crop was quite light, and the final figure may be in line with the national average. The harvest then proceeded very consistently, following the ripening curves of the various parcels.
The wines—which are still extremely young, of course—are already displaying a good potential quality for this vintage, and the worry that weather-caused problems would bring considerable problems does not seem to have come true.
The reds exhibit near-opaque hues, and the aromas—contrary to all expectations!—are crisp and fruity. But the over-arching characteristic of the vintage is without doubt concentration: the wines will in all likelihood be “fat,” full-bodied, with surpassingly-high levels of dry extract and pronounced tannins.
The white wines display greenish-yellow tonalities, and strikingly deep and complex aromatics, with impressions rich in fruit and blossoms. Acidities are where they should be, but again, what is immediately striking is the wines’ concentration.
We expect wines of great character from the 2017 vintage.