AMARONE 2023 HARVEST IN NEGRAR DI VALPOLICELLA
The 2023 agricultural year was another non-typical year, in some ways extreme, requiring a major commitment in vineyard management, from pruning to harvesting.
The most significant difficulties were drought (extreme from the beginning of July – the hottest July on record), heavy rains (towards the end of July), heat waves especially in August, a few local hailstorms (fortunately light in Valpolicella) and the proliferation of downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) in the vineyards
The great challenge was to bring healthy grapes to maturity, and timely work in the vineyard was very important.
The warm and sunny September weather, however, gave us a big hand, and during the harvest, we had ideal weather conditions to be able to harvest the grapes at full ripeness without further difficulties.
Fortunately, the ten hectares of pergola-trained vines helped us again this year, as the grapes, being more protected from sunburn and light hailstorms, were of great quality.
At our Negrar di Valpolicella estate, the work to sort the bunches of grapes for appassimento in the drying rooms ( fruttai) began on September 11th with the Sangiovese and then the Barbera in Roverti and lasted about a week, accompanied by days of fine weather, favourable to this type of harvest.
Hand harvesting, into the drying rooms, continued on the Calcarole hill from September 18th to the 21st and then with the pergola trained vines during the last ten days of September, ending in early October with the Corvinone rows at the base of Calcarole, on the western side of the hill.
The grapes, fewer than normal, were generally healthy and ripe with a high sugar content, supported by good acidity, especially the Corvinone and Barbera varieties.
For the appassimento, we crushed in the last ten days of November and early December, in line with recent vintages.
It is still early to draw a balance on the quality of the Valpolicella wines, but the indications are certainly good!
Giuseppe Rizzardi, December 2023
Agricultural year 2020/2021
Bardolino and Cavaion
This year the grape harvest has returned to being done in September, a season that was the norm in our wine-growing areas before the climatic changes and the global increase in temperatures in recent years. From the 15th the Chardonnay was harvested in Dolcè and then the Merlot of Cavaion, the Sangiovese from Cavaion and then the Merlot Khorus and the Ancellotta planted in Bardolino, in the Campazzi area. The grapes benefited from excellent ripeness, without however running the risk of over-ripening, especially for Merlot: we want to avoid wines that have excessive concentrations, lack freshness and tend towards a jammy style. Then, after a week of waiting, we continued the harvest of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella, destined for rosés and reds, ending on October 7th. Marcobona and Garganega were the last grapes harvested between the 8th and the 12th of October. Overall, it was a slightly earlier vintage than in recent years. Quantitatively, we had no excess of production and the quality was very good. The rosé and red wines of Bardolino, vintage 2021, were bottled between February and early March 2022. The rosé wines begin to express themselves in the bottle on with fruity notes such as raspberry, peach and almond accompanied by floral notes and an excellent intensity and balance on the palate. The red Bardolino, very intense on the nose, turns out to be mature, round and with an excellent structure on the palate and a few months in the bottle will increase its pleasantness. The wines are supported by good acidity and colour intensity, with a tannic structure, well present, but not invasive.
Negrar di Valpolicella
On September 7th we started the selection of the grapes in boxes for the Amarone wines: unfortunately, the hailstorm of July 8th affected the quantity produced (especially by Villa Rizzardi, less so in Calcarole and Rovereti), but fortunately the hail that fell in this period, did not qualitatively damage the grapes, as the damaged berries dried up and then fell off. However, this atmospheric phenomenon delayed the vegetative cycle of the vines and consequently the ripening period of the grapes, so we had a relatively late harvest. We collected some Merlot, then followed with Sangiovese and Barbera. The third week of September we then made the selection of the grapes from the Calcarole hill, mostly Corvina with an excellent state of ripeness. Then in the last week we harvested in Tomenighe and Rovereti, to conclude in around Villa Rizzardi on the 30th of September. A long harvest with favourable weather conditions helped an ideal planning of the picking. The Merlot for Clos Roareti was harvested on September 17th, ripe and healthy, the Croatina from around Villa Rizzardi on September 20th and then from the 2nd to the 11th of October we harvested Corvinone and Rondinella around Villa Rizzardi with a good level of ripeness, even if the hail had eliminated about a third of the production!
Overall in Negrar it was a good year, despite the hail of early July, and the wines are showing great potential also partly due to us having made a careful selection of the grapes during harvest.
Currently, Valpolicella 2021 has been in the bottle since February: Corvinone expresses all its spicy characteristics here, with an excellent freshness, typicity and savouriness. The Clos Roareti, Valpolicella Ripasso Pojega and the Amarone wines have recently begun their aging process in barriques, barrels and tonneaux.
The last time we harvested Chardonnay so late was in 2008, we harvested on the 13th of September, with excellent ripeness, good acidity and with a slightly lower yields than the previous year. With the fresh temperatures in September, the maintenance and the development of aromas in musts is easier to manage. Exactly one month later, on 13th of October, we began the harvest of the Garganega grapes grown on pergola, later than the last 4 years, with a perfect and progressive ripening of the bunches. The harvest ended on the 18th of October with the Garganega from the central blocks of Costeggiola, trained with the simple guyot system, which we traditionally leave to mature a little longer.
Even in Soave the quantity was lower than the average of the last few years, unfortunately a light summer hail contributed to the drop in production.
The Soave and Costeggiola wines, bottled respectively from early February and early March 2022, are now expressive with fruity notes of apple and peach, citrus notes, savoury, balanced and with an excellent persistence.
Giuseppe Rizzardi May 2021
Agricultural year 2019/2020
2020 will be remembered for being one of the three hottest years ever recorded (2016, 2019 and 2020) in fact the decade 2011-2020 was the hottest on record.
However, for our vineyards the trend of spring and summer rains (sometimes thunderstorms), mitigated the effect of the hot vintage.
This year we were able to make an earlier start pruning the vineyards. This was followed by early budding at the end of March, a direct consequence of a mild winter. This early onset of vegetative development continued until April, a month characterised by very little rain. From mid-May, the return of abundant rains, rehydrated the vines and in the last ten days of May, flowering took place.
June was rather rainy and cool; the real heat, with temperatures steadily above 30 ° C, came in the second half of July. A rather rainy month of August, but with very hot days and cooler nights, accelerated the ripening of the grapes and the harvest began earlier than average, as in 2015.
Bardolino: On the 10th and 11th of September the Corvina and Sangiovese grapes selected for the rosé wines were harvested, then Merlot and Ancellotta in the middle of the month and from the 24th of September to early October we harvested all the other vineyards, ending on the 8th of October.
It was a smooth harvest and ideally organised according to the perfect ripeness of the different grape varieties. The rosé wines, ready in mid-November, are very fragrant while the Bardolino red wines are of great quality and complexity, with very evident aromas of spices, typical of Corvina, accompanied by an excellent, well-integrated tannic structure. The aromas will certainly gradually come out in spring, but we can say that we are facing a vintage of great quality in Cavaion and Bardolino.
Soave: The Chardonnay, excellent in terms of quality and quantity (in line with 2018), was harvested on the 7th of September, early in the morning to maintain the freshness of the aromas.
The Garganega produced a higher quantity of grapes than in 2019, of excellent quality, harvested between the 9th and 14th of October, when fully ripe. The grapes harvested from our Soave vineyards were 90% Garganega and 10% Chardonnay.
Fermentations took place on a regular basis, the blends made in December revealed excellent wines, comprising more than 90% Garganega: the pergola trellised vineyards of the lower part of the Costeggiola hill produced the best wines.
Valpolicella: fortunately, the hailstorms during the summer did not hit our vineyards, we were lucky as the area suffered from a number of very intense hailstorms.
On September 1st we started the collection of boxes for the appassimento. Over the last twenty years only in 2015 did we begin as early in the selection of grapes destined for Amarone as we did this year. We began ten days earlier than last year. The sunny weather helped us to work calmly and we finished on September 26th with the grapes from the vineyards for Villa Rizzardi Amarone. The approximately 19,000 boxes collected required a lot of selection and careful placement of the bunches in the boxes, to encourage proper ventilation, which is essential this year: on average only just over 4 kg per box!
From September 28th to October 8th we harvested Corvina, Rondinella and Corvinone, leaving for last the Corvinone which has had a very slow ripening. Corvina produced very little while Corvinone, Rondinella and Merlot were excellent in terms of both quality and quantity. Towards mid-December we proceeded with the first blends and the wines are currently in tank and barrel. The wines are delicate, fragrant, not too tannic and will certainly be easy to approach in a vintage where the fruity notes stand out above all.
The pressing of the dried grapes took place early, between the months of November and December and the drying process was very rapid with very favourable weather conditions. The Amarone wines are revealing an important polyphenolic structure and Amarone Calcarole already gives a very intense and complex fruity bouquet of small red fruits.
March 1, 2021 Giuseppe Rizzardi
2019 has been a successful vintage on the 3 estates, with good weather conditions especially during the harvest. The climate has been regular through the entire vine growing season, without any problems – frost, hale etc.- so we were able to work as planned in order to prepare the vines for the harvest.
Soave: we had a small crop of Chardonnay, harvested quite early to keep the freshness, and the Garganega was picked in 2 different phases: second half of September for young and more productive vines, the parcels for Costeggiola in October. The wines are crisp, aromatic and with a nice freshness which make them very classic in style and ready to be approached from the bottling, from February onwards.
Valpolicella: September started with three beneficial rains in the first ten days; the manual selection of the grapes for Amarone took place between the12th and 30th of September 2019, slightly later than recent vintages: about 19,000 PVC boxes, a high number, but with fewer grapes per box: since the grapes were not always dry, we avoided having them too compact. Valpolicella, Pojega and Clos Roareti wines: we started on the 9th of September, ending on October 11th with the Corvinone from the Pigozzara vineyard: perfectly ripe and left in the vineyard a bit longer, this extraordinary grape in 2019 allowed us to wait for its perfect maturation. All wines, with excellent acidity, good tannic structure, fruity aromas, spices and typically earthy, show great balance and without excess concentration. We consider 2019 a very good year in Valpolicella.
Bardolino: the wines have a pleasant fruity character; the tannic structure along with good freshness gives them a substantial depth. Corvina wasn’t very productive, so being the majority of our grape planted between Bardolino and Cavaion, we had a small harvest. Thankfully Rondinella, Merlot, Sangiovese and Ancellotta were more regular in yields and their proportion is a bit higher than usual in the blend of rosés and reds from the Lake. We already bottled some wines here and we think we have very classic wines in 2019.
Agricultural year (November 2017 – October 2018)
In 2018 we had a very positive result in our three vineyard zones despite the fact that the prospects had been rather complicated. The 2016/2017 vintage was affected by spring frost and by an abnormal meteorological trend during the whole spring. The following winter and the spring of 2018 had a more typical weather pattern, characterized by just above average rainfall in January and March, followed by bud break in the second part of April, with no rain. May was a rainy month, while June had several regular but not too heavy periods of rain in the first three weeks, when the vines bloomed and for this reason we had a lot to do to protect the ones most susceptible to downy mildew, located in the most humid areas.
The frequent rains of these months have also required a considerable effort in vineyard works, especially greenery management (de-budding, removal of the excess shoots, trellising and later trimming) and vine health protection.
The intense summer heat, punctuated by regular rains, helped the bunches growth, already confirming in June the early maturing nature of the vintage. The abundant rainfall in July contributed to a further acceleration of grapes ripening. The harvest began around the 20th of August.
The rains led to an increase in the average weight of the bunches, with higher yields per hectare as a consequence.
Overall, the 2018 harvest was good: the fairly high yields for the Bardolino area and the problems caused by the vine mealy bug (Planococcus ficus) for the Soave area characterized the year. However, in Soave the careful and timely selection of the bunches allowed us to bring healthy, quality grapes into the cellar.
For some varieties (such as Merlot and Sangiovese) thinning was used with excellent results.
It is important to also bear in mind that 2018 was the 4th warmest year ever since 1880, when the recording of climate data began (2016, 2017 and 2015, the first three). A climatic situation that we will have to get used to and adapt more and more often!
Harvest in Bardolino
On the 29th August, on a similar date to 2017, we harvested the Chardonnay in Dolcè, ripe and still with good acidity, but with halved yields due to a hailstorm on 20th July, luckily only limited to that area. The harvest then continued with the younger vines of Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese destined for Chiaretto, harvested with an exceptional degree of ripeness and rich in sugars and polyphenols, partly due to the hot summer and partly to the physiological reaction of the vines to the previous year frost. This gave us very intense rosé wines rich in sugars and aromas, wines of great structure. The harvest lasted until the end of September, then after a break of a few days, we harvested from the 5th to the 15th of October the oldest and highest quality Corvina vineyards.
In Bardolino we can certainly speak of an extraordinary vintage, with perfectly ripe grapes, rich in sugar, with good acidity and perfect health condition. The excellent weather conditions helped us to harvest each vine and each vineyard in perfect ripeness according to the soils, the exposures and the age of the vines: all these details made the difference in quality! All the wines tend to be intense and full-bodied, supported by a pleasant freshness, the best of great vintages!
Harvest in Soave
The Chardonnay, harvested early in the morning on August 23rd, opened the harvest in Soave, complicated by a strong attack of vine mealy bug (Planococcus ficus), that forced us to trim part of the damaged bunches. This has unfortunately also affected yields per vine, lower in the vineyards hit by the insect.
Between 17th and 28th September we continued to harvest the Garganega vineyards, starting from the younger ones and then ending in the highest quality parcels of Costeggiola and Ferra.
The careful selection in the vineyards has given us very defined, pure and clean wines, reminding us once again that if the grapes harvested are of good quality, then the wines reflect the harvest positively.
The only drawback in this vintage, a bit complex and complicated in Soave, is about quantity, given the drop in yields was sometimes very significant.
Harvest in Negrar (Valpolicella)
The storm on September 1st will long be remembered as an exceptional event that took place in Negrar, in a limited area, which brought about 180 mm of rain in less than an hour. The negative consequence was the collapse of pieces of centuries-old town walls in Rovereti due to the enormous mass of water that flowed from the hill of Calcarole: but fortunately in the vineyards we didn’t experience any damage!
The grapes destined to be dried, harvested between the 8th and 24th of September, benefited from sunny weather in September, dry with cool nights. We put aside, for drying, about 27% of the grapes produced, divided between Corvinone (47%), Corvina (20%), Rondinella (23%) and a bit of Barbera and Sangiovese.
All the grapes were in excellent health and those from the pergola vineyards around Villa Rizzardi represented about two thirds of the total amount set aside for the drying process. This allowed us to control excessive concentration due once again to the very hot vintage.
The drying period was of medium duration and the pressing began in December 2018.
The Amarone alcohol levels are medium-high, supported by good acidity. The wines have been maturing since March 2019.
The Merlot of Rovereti, harvested from September 11th, opened the harvest of fresh grapes (those not destined for drying), followed by Corvina and Barbera. From September 26th we harvested the counter-espalier trained Corvinone of Pigozzara vineyard, then the Calcarole vineyard and finally, during the last week of September and early October, we harvested the grapes from the pergola trained vines around Villa Rizzardi which gave an excellent and abundant production.
On 4 October we finished the harvest in Negrar.
The vintage was very good and gave us typical wines, very balanced and supported by good freshness. Finesse and elegance are the hallmark of Negrar wines in this 2018 vintage.
The polyphenol index gives us, starting from Valpolicella, wines of good colour and excellent tannic structure, for once not too alcoholic or excessively concentrated.
Another very high quality year in Valpolicella, which continues the positive series that began in 2015
2017: A complex and challenging but ultimately rewarding year for the wine harvest
In 2017, Nature reminded us that we do not always have ideal weather, with some frost, some rain, lots of sunshine, warm days and cool nights, yet we experienced perfect weather during the summer and a mild spell during harvest. After the early heat of March , the frost arrived damaging the early ripening grapes in areas where the cold air was able to gather for several hours. Fortunately, this phenomenon affected us only moderately in the areas of Cavaion and Bardolino, less so in Soave, while the Valpolicella vineyards suffered only minimal damage. Nevertheless, production losses reached 60% in some of our Bardolino vineyards.
Although a number of hailstorms struck different areas in Bardolino and Cavaion and further reduced the harvest we were once again very fortunate in both Soave and Valpolicella as any damage caused by hail was quickly healed over by several days of very warm weather and the grapes were able to dry and mature well. Despite the complexities of the vintage we have been able to produce excellent wines this year, especially in Valpolicella and Soave.
The Harvest in Bardolino
The harvest began on the 5th September with white Muscat, which was fifteen days later than in 2015 and five days later than in 2016; then the Chardonnay of Dolcè and Soave, and on 11th September the Sangiovese, which was allocated this year mostly to the production of Chiaretto. The younger Corvina and Rondinella vineyards were harvested early in the first half of the month to preserve the fruity and acid tastes. On 22nd September we then picked the Merlot, partially green harvested to limit the production of grapes destined for our Munus. The harvest of the best Cavaion Corvina vineyards ended on 27th September, followed by the vineyards of Garganega and Marcobona of Cavaion.
The yield was low, largely due to the April frosts, but the quality was good, and so we are therefore pleased with the satisfactory end result.
The Harvest in Soave
Here the harvest in 2017 began with Chardonnay on 31st August, slightly earlier than in 2016. These grapes were harvested in the early morning, between 3 and 7.30a.m., to avoid the high daytime temperatures and ensure ideal fermentation at temperatures below a maximum of 15-16°C. Unfortunately, due to the April frosts few of the best grapes were produced.
From 13th-16th September we collected the Garganega grapes destined for the supply of Soave wine, and weather conditions were excellent while from 10th-12th of the following month we harvested the then fully ripe Garganega grapes from our best vineyards, which are restricted only to the production of our Costeggiola and Ferra wines. These vineyards had previously been partially defoliated to increase the exposure of the grapes to air and light and thus cause ideal ripening.
Again it was a good vintage in Soave.
The Harvest in Negrar (Valpolicella)
These grapes were harvested between 6th and 22nd September, and they benefited from sunny weather, drying quickly in our “fruttaio” (a well fenestrated drying room) with its good air circulation. We picked some 18,000 boxes of grapes in a vintage that was once again, for the third consecutive year, very positive.
This harvest accounts for about one third of our grape production, made up of 45% Corvina, 21% Rondinella and 13% Corvinone, with small percentages of Barbera, Sangiovese and Molinara. All the grapes matured well, but especially the Corvinone.
Fresh Merlot grapes were harvested from 15th September in Rovereti, and between 18th and 28th September we harvested Corvinone, Corvina and Rondinella grown in Rovereti, Tomenighe and Calcarole. Between 29th September and 7th October we picked the grapes from the old “pergola” ( trellised vine) around Villa Rizzardi which produced a great and abundant harvest in contrast to 2016.
The production of Valpolicella and Ripasso was of high quality and abundant.
However, the summer drought somewhat impaired the Merlot, for the water stress somewhat slowed the maturation of the fruit.
Overall this year it was an excellent vintage in Negrar.
HARVEST NEWS 2016
2015-2016 agricultural year
The year was characterized by a good yield in terms of quantity and good quality of the grapes in the four appellations. : after the excellent year 2015, 2016 has had a normal climatic trend in all seasons: winter with low rainfall, absence of snowfalls and a few days with temperatures dropped below 0 ° C. Spring was dry enough, little rain in the months of March and throughout the first decade of May; while the weather patterns between mid-May and the first three weeks of June was very humid with frequent rains, coinciding with the most delicate phenological phase of the vine (from the flowering of the berries growth). As a result, we had a lot to do to protect the most sensitive varieties from downy mildew, located in the most humid areas. The veraison, which began in late July, and the entire process of maturation until the middle of September, were characterized by warm days and cool nights that compared to 2015, have favoured a greater accumulation of aromas, acidity and anthocyanin.
The harvest began on August 31 with the white Muscat (10 days later than in 2015), then continued with the Chardonnay of Soave and Dolcè, and with the Cortese of Bardolino: these early maturing varieties have already proved a great qualitative and quantitative the grapes. Then we harvested Sangiovese towards mid-September, followed by Ancellotta and Merlot and then Corvina and Rondinella picked between the last ten days of September and October 19th, the last day of harvest: everywhere was a very good quality. Very high quality vintage for Ancellotta of Campazzi and Corvina of Dògoli! Some rain between 15 and 22 September, had no effect on a “easy” harvest, which allowed us to pick the grapes with perfect maturity and good levels of acidity: higher total acidity than in previous years (with very high temperatures in the summer), will favour long life to most important wines! Excellent year both in Bardolino in Valdadige.
The vintage 2016, which began on September 7 with the Chardonnay, confirms excellent concentration of aromas and acidity in white grapes, also harvested about 10 days later than the vintage 2015.
Between the 26 and 27 of September we collected Garganega from younger vines, trying to combine maturity with good acidity; then the generally good weather allowed us to wait about three weeks, prior to collecting the perfectly ripe grapes from the oldest vines of Ferra and Costeggiola, between the 17 and 19 of October.
An excellent year in Soave, with wines, fragrant and supported by a pleasant freshness.
Negrar di Valpolicella harvest
The grapes for “appassimento”, selected between 8 and 29 of September, has benefited from the sunny weather in September, dry with cool nights. We collected about 1/3 of our production divided between 45% Corvina, 27% of corvinone, 10% Rondinella and small percentages of Barbera, Merlot and Sangiovese.
All the grapes were in excellent conditions of maturity, certainly the Corvina is the variety that gave us better results in this sorting process.
The drying process was quiet short, given the richness of the grapes and meteorological and climatic trend: the pressing began in November 2016. The Amarone sugar level are high, supported by good acidity: the wines are fermented and turn out in full already complex, structured and focused! The grapes for Valpolicella were harvested from September 27 (Merlot in Rovereti) and then between 3 and 10 of October we finished the harvest of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella in that order. Good maturation for all grapes, unfortunately we had some loss due to downy mildew in the vineyards around Villa Rizzardi, where we tried a full biological approach in the spraying against powdery mildew and downy mildew. Altogether we have obtained high quality wines, supported by good freshness and aroma, despite a summer very warm in Negrar. The good weather in the autumn favoured the harvest with a degree of perfect ripeness.
In general, therefore, in 2016 it expressed excellent wines!
Giuseppe Rizzardi 4th of December 2016