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: 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 of Pojega 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 Pojega vineyard’s pergola trained vines, 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) of Pojega, 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.