A LITTLE SUN AMONG MANY CLOUDS …
The harvest year 2014 will be remembered for the very rainy conditions during the growth cycle of the vines: an abnormal vintage, in which the grower has had to try to adapt his work in the vineyard to the conditions. A very demanding year both in terms of the amount of work and the costs involved.
After a fairly mild winter variable weather in Spring led to millerandage (simultaneous presence in the bunch normal grapes and under developed grapes) especially on sensitive varieties.
The rains, constant and regular, fell between May and the end of August, with about 300 mm in July, causing a lot of work to prevent attacks of mildew and other rot. We calculated an increased vineyard work load of between 30% and 40%. Luckily a more normal in September followed which favoured a more balanced vintage. September and October were the least rainy (less than 100 mm per month) of the months from May to August; a very rare event.
We had to undergo strict grape selection in all our vineyards and to bring in only healthy grapes was the primary objective of this vintage – we also encountered some pleasant surprises in terms of quality.
Harvest in Bardolino & Valdadige
The harvest began on August 22nd with Muscat in Bardolino followed by Chardonnay in Valdadige on the 27th : healthy grapes with good ripeness, which gave fresh, fragrant wines with a great drinkability.
For red grapes, we harvested between the 15th and 23rd of September, interrupted by some rain, the younger vines of Sangiovese, Merlot, Corvina and Rondinella. Then, on September 30th , we harvested the most qualitative vineyards, with ripe grapes and strict selection in the vineyard, for the production of our red Bardolino.
Overall, the good and successful management of the windows of good weather that appeared between September and October, has allowed us to select healthy grapes to bring into the cellar. In the end, we are much happier than the bleak forecasts earlier in the year would suggest.
Quantitatively there has definitely been a drop in production, but qualitatively the grapes arriving into the winery were healthy and with good ripeness. The wines had good colour, perfumed red fruit and spice, very fresh and tasty. A more than satisfactory result in a difficult year like 2014.
Harvest in Negrar, Valpolicella
Even in Negrar, until mid-September, we wondered if we would have had grapes with a level of maturity and health status suitable to be put in for drying.
Then the conditions gradually improved and we decided to begin selecting the grapes. We collected between the 18th and 24th of September, in a period of good weather, about 11,000 boxes of grapes, placing only the best grapes in the boxes – well spaced, to promote maximum ventilation.
To date the grapes have dried in a gradual and uniform fashion, benefiting from excellent drying conditions in the fruttai (drying houses).
The grapes in the fruttaio are firstly Corvina (about 40% of the total), then Corvinone (about 30%) and Rondinella (about 20%) with a small part of Barbera, Sangiovese and Molinara (together about 10% of the total). Of the grapes used 85% come from our ‘row culitvated’ vineyards (Rovereti, Calcarole, Vigolo and Tomenighe) while the remaining 15% come from our ‘pergola cultivated’ vineyard of Pojega.
Therefore less grapes from vineyards planted by the pergola system where maturation was undoubtedly more complicated than with rowed vineyards, trellised rows being a distinct advantage this year in terms of sun exposure and ventilation.
The grapes for the production of Valpolicella began on September 15th with the Croatina grapes of Pojega then on September 16th we harvested the Merlot by machine. It should be noted that in late August we carried out, by hand, defoliation of the Merlot vines and the removal of all green grapes or those affected by mould. This was the recurrent theme of this vintage: strict selection to bring into the cellar healthy grapes.
On September 29th we harvested, by hand, the vineyards of Calcarole and Rovereti, then dedicated ourselves from the 7th of October to the harvest of the old ‘pergolas’ of Pojega vineyard and here too strict selection was needed.
On October 15th we concluded with the Corvinone of Pigozzara, a vineyard at the foot of Calcarole where also for the first time we have selected grapes for the drying process.
In Valpolicella we have produced wine which is very fresh and aromatic, with a distinct personality, wine that will please many; not too full-bodied and powerful, more accessible.
Harvest in Soave
Despite some hail on the 25th of June and 3rd of August and the increased rain the vineyards of Soave faired well. With the added benefit that the frequent rains meant we had no need to resort to irrigation rescue, commonly a practice in June and July, especially on land with the volcanic soils.
On August 29th we collected the Chardonnay which was mature and with optimal freshness and aroma and a balanced sugar level. This year the preservation of aromas was the goal of the harvest of white grapes – to grasp the potential of freshness and fragrance of grapes. Then from September the 24th to 25th, the youngest vines of Garganega were harvested, leaving only the grapes in the oldest and best exposed.
vineyard parcels for later.
Finally on the 9th and 10th of October, we picked these completing the harvest Monte Roccheta and then the central part of the hill of Costeggiola – grapes destined to be the foundation of our Cru Soave: Costeggiola.
This year, the freshness and aroma of the wines are the main features of our whites and we can now talk about a very positive vintage.
The wines have typicity and are fresh with pleasant flavour and fruity characters especially of peach, apple and pear, yet also floweral. The grapes ultimately have given wines with an intense and beautiful structure.