The situation explained by our oenologist, Stefano Di Blasi
2017 was a year characterised by higher than average temperatures. This information comes from the bank National Climatic Data Centre, that has been recording world temperatures since 1880. In the month of July alone the temperatures reached in Italy put it among the ten hottest months since 1800. Added to this is the lack of rain which was about 40% lower than usual. The whole of Italy suffered the effects of this on agriculture and animal farming, and the costs are high.
To understand how the grape harvest of 2017 effects wine production, and in particular that of the Fattoria Montecchio, we asked our oenologist, Stefano Di Blasi, to give us an idea of the situation.
“2017”, he explains “was an exceptional year for its weather, so within this framework we must try to foresee the quality of our wine. It seems there has been a substantial reduction in quantity of grapes, on a national level and also in France and Spain, that is the three main wine producers in the world”.
There are three important elements that caused this reduction, but one in particular dealt a blow and that was the unusually cold second half of April, when night temperatures went below zero. This frost killed most of the flowers on the vines, just as they were forming. This has happened before but not this bad since 1997″.
SOME CURIOUS ABOUT FROST ON GRAPE VINES
“Frost is a sort of thermal inversion: it comes in the form of cold air which stratifies on all the lower and more humid parts of land.”
This means that it ´burns´ certain parts that hold more humidity and where our ancestors would probably not have planted vines but some other crop like wheat.
This means that the vines with the best grapes managed to resiste while the lesser quality ones suffered the frost. Consequently all the grapes that survived are top quality”.
The exceptional, late frost of this year hit the whole of Italy, including the southern regions like Puglia and Sicily. Added to this”, he continues was the lack of rain during both the winter and the spring. This means that the grapes were fewer and smaller, with less water the fruit doesn´t grow as big as it normally would”.
The third factor, in order of time, was the great heat and drought during the summer months. During the first week of August we had temperatures hitting 43° centigrade that shrivelled the bunches, further reducing grape production: at the end of the harvest we noticed a reduction of about 30% – and not only in Tuscany”.
“On the other hand we noticed very good quality grapes. With respect to the Fattoria Montecchio”, he adds “which produces
“On the other hand we noticed very good quality grapes. With respect to the Fattoria Montecchio”, he adds “which produces Chianti Classico , the Sangiovese grapes are particularly rich and that is of the utmost importance. For the moment all our wines are still macerating having fermented. We will then rack off the wine for the subsequent steps. This is because the grapes, this year, are particularly good”.
WHAT WE FORESEE FOR OUR 2017 PRODUCTION AT THE FATTORIA MONTECCHIO
“The last two years, 2015 and 2016”, – points out Di Blasi – “were very good for the Montecchio wines. As for 2017, we can comfortably say that our wine will be at least as good as the previous two and even on a par with 1997, another memorable year. So we can say that 2017 will be characterised by low quantities but excellent quality.
This is the opposite of what happened in 2014, when the grapes were not of excellent quality but they were abundant, so much so that we decided to skip making reserve and iconic wines and concentrate on making the best quality possible for our Chianti Classico, which is of very good quality.
This year our wines at the top of our assortment will be prioritised. The Fattoria Montecchio will have 2017 la Riserva, Pietracupa and Papessa. We will also make Chianti Classico but there will be fewer bottles than usual.
“Our famous Priscus wine (that is entirely vinified and refined in terracotta amphorae) is made from the last grapes to be harvested and is now at the initial phase. It needs to be macerated until January or February, as we have learnt over the years. This is much longer than most ordinary wines which only take about two or three weeks of maceration. From the first tastes we have had of this fermenting must we know that the quality will be, once again, exceptional”.
If, from a technical view point, we are pleased when we obtain excellent quality wine, we must also remember that the reduction in quantity could reduce the income of wine farmers.
“To compensate the reduction in quantity, some wine farmers are thinking of raising prices”, Di Blasi continues “this is also due to the economic crisis that has hit all sectors here in Italy. However, this might not be such a bad thing because having less recent wine to sell, more of the stock left in cellars in the past years should be sold, leaving space for newer wines and helping the turn over of our production”.
All in all, we trust in our optimism, which is always plentiful at the Fattoria Montecchio: so without doubt rest assured that we see the glass half full.