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2017 Harvest Report
Autumn Colours and Time to Take Stock
A difficult year, due to a severe frost in mid-April that damaged a large area in the lower vineyards, and also because of the prolonged drought, with almost no rain during the winter.
Despite all this, the remaining grapes produced a harvest of excellent quality, especially the grechetto, which has withstood the challenges and proved itself to be a variety well-adapted to changing climatic conditions.
Volumes were inevitably low, but we’re confident there is still enough to supply our existing customers; and fortunately, because the previous 2016 vintage was plentiful and is maturing very well, we are able to continue selling it to supplement this year’s reduced availability.
We were also unable to produce either Spumante or Muffo, though luckily we have abundant stocks of previous vintages. The good news is the triumphant return of Magone, from great quality pinot noir from the 2015 harvest, while the 2016 vintage, still in the barrel, is very promising.
Even though we are still nursing our wounds, we’ve already started preparing for a possible repetition of these difficult conditions, managing the limited water supply via a “drop irrigation” technique in the areas most susceptible to drought and frost damage.
In any event, and thanks to the work of our excellent staff, we are proud to have continued to produce wines of great quality.
2015 Harvest Report
The Worst is Over…
Historically this part of Italy has never really seen heavy rains any later than the end of May, from which point of the year good weather is generally guaranteed right through the summer. We have had the occasional summer storm in June, but never unremitting rain like that of 2013 when it rained almost every day from May onwards.
As you know, we practice organic viticulture which means that we use no artificial fertilizers or treatments, because chemicals sprayed on plants are absorbed by the leaves and circulate within the plant’s organism, protecting it from within. Such products are not, therefore, diluted by rain water; they are eventually transferred from the leaves to the grapes and thus to the wine – so in drinking non organic wine one also ends up drinking a fair number of chemicals.
In organic viticulture what we can and want to use are natural products that protect the vines externally: for example copper, in various forms, and other minerals such as powdered zeolite rocks. When sprayed on the leaves these protect the plant, but rain water can wash them away leaving the vines vulnerable to attack by pathogens, and plasmopara viticola (downy mildew) in particular.
The abundant June rains of 2013 favoured a severe outbreak of plasmopara viticola – a disease that damages the flower clusters of certain varieties in the early stages of their development. Unfortunately grechetto is especially vulnerable to the disease and almost the entire year’s crop was lost.
2014 was a little kinder. Once again there were storms but we managed to protect the vines better than in the previous year. In this case spray drift-recycling atomisers proved especially helpful (crop sprayers equipped with a recovery system that collects any spray not deposited on the leaves of the plants). However both grechetto and merlot (another particularly sensitive variety) suffered another attack of fungal disease and as a result the harvest of 2014 saw noticeably low yields – but, in compensation, the quality of the wines is excellent.
In 2015 we prepared for the possibility that we might have to face another tough, year and the young agronomist Beatrice Scorsino began working with us, flanked by our great friend Prof. Bruno Cirica who is an expert in vine diseases. Continual monitoring and control of the plants enabled us to approach the harvest with greater serenity and has yielded a magnificent vintage, in particular a very fine grechetto and a syrah so perfect that our friend and enologist, Giandomenico Negro, anticipates that this year we will finally produce a grand reserve.
In the meantime we are preparing the wines that will be ready in early April, when at long last we will once again have our Latour: a superb 2014.
So this has been the year in which we have finally been able to catch our breath!
2014 Harvest Report
Low Yields and Some Very Good Wines
For the third year in a row climatic conditions have been difficult. Although this year the weather was somewhat more forgiving, it has still been far from easy. Right up until the moment the harvest began we were kept hard at work, drawing on all the experience accumulated over 50 years of harvests and aided by the professionalism of our new agronomist, a young graduate who joined us this year.
New machinery has played a key part in guaranteeing a productive year. An anti-drift sprayer has proven particularly important in a year in which regular treatments have been necessary, permitting timely interventions and reducing the quantity of products used on the vines. And a new crop duster has allowed us to mix various products and combine traditional treatments such as sulfur and copper with new products like zeolite.
As always our weather station, with its sophisticated software, has been invaluable in helping us prevent cryptogamic diseases.
We have therefore managed to keep the peronospora on the grechetto in check, and although the harvest was far from bountiful with the plants producing little fruit right from the beginning of the season, the low yields have proven positive because what grapes were produced have matured with a sugar content high enough to achieve an alcohol content of over 13º. This year’s slow-maturing fruit and relatively low temperatures have also guaranteed wonderful aromas and a higher-than-average acidity.
Thanks to the high acidity of the grapes, this year’s chardonnay (the basis for our Spumante) is particularly good, but because of the limited quantity of grechetto available we will be producing very little Muffo.
Of the red grape varieties only pinot noir has suffered this year, its quality having been affected by two storms that hit us just before harvesting began. In contrast this year’s syrah is of above-average quality, although it was necessary to make a particularly careful selection of the grapes during harvesting. As ever merlot has proven to be the most demanding of the varieties and a severe attack of brown rot reduced the yield by 50%. Extraordinarily, 2014’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is fabulous, and once again grechetto has shown itself to be particularly adaptable to climatic changes.