The harvest started late compared to 2012 of about ten days, but certainly in line with a normal year. The climate throughout the year has led to a great growth of the vines: the winter was characterized by ample rainfall and this has allowed a good vegetative cycle of the vine due to a good supply of water. The spring, not exactly mild, delayed the phase of germination, but recovered with the heat wave in the summer.
The quality of the wine promises excellent and high expectations as the grape harvest is of good quality.
BRAIDA ( Rocchetta Tanaro, Castelnuovo Calcea, Costigliole d Asti, Mango)
The long, fresh spring has allowed the land to soak up plenty of useful water during the summer.
The start was therefore slightly delayed compared to previous years and with blossoming problems for several varieties and positions in the vineyards due to the cold weather and rain.
Brachetto seems to have suffered the most while the other varieties, only in less sunny and colder positions, have suffered large losses in production.
Finally the summer arrived, with a lengthy run of glorious days. The sun and wind enabled the grapes to ripen quickly thus recovering the delayed start.
There is a very evident problem of aridity in several cases (deep sandy soils) whereas with our splendid vineyards in Rocchetta rich in lime and clay the plants enjoy fresh soils that have allowed for excellent ripening. Overall, 2012 is a splendid year more harmonious and elegant than that of the mighty and powerful 2011.
SERRA DEI FIORI ( Trezzo Tinella – LANGHE)
White grape : Nascetta – Chardonnay – Riesling Renano
Excellent harvest in Serra where the African summer saw curbed effects.
The altitude of 500 metres, favourable easterly exposure together with the accurate and innovative agronomic techniques has allowed us to reach a perfect degree of ripening maintaining a first-class acidic complement. The grapes were harvested at the end of August, before the arrival of the bad weather, which gave balanced musts rich in extracts.
The freshness of the flowery and fruity scents is very promising.
Agronomo & Enologo : Beppe Zatti / Giuseppe Bologna / Maurizio Giacosa
The year started with temperatures above average with considerably high rainfall and some snow in March. The warm temperatures continued in April and May with some particularly warm days with highs of 35 °C (!) followed by an unstable June with rainfalls and temperatures lower than the average. This unstable conditions were continued in the period of July and the first half of August. From mid of August hot temperatures occurred with highs of 38 °C with no precipitations. September remains very hot with some rainy days. Overall 2011 was a very hot year compared to that of 2003 with a bit more precipitations than the previous years.
Like in 2007 and 2003, especially Barbera reached very high levels of sugar resulting in alcohol levels above average but with great health and high levels of acidity leading to overall quite balanced and full bodied wines. The great heat resulted in considerably lowered production up to minus 30 % in some vineyards.
An early harvest for the aromatic varieties guaranteed the freshness and the highly aromatics of Moscato and Brachetto, which also can be seen for the white varieties as Nascetta, Chardonnay and Riesling. Grignolino profited from these warm weather conditions resulting in a very aromatic and medium bodied wine. Also the Merlot, Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon for our blend IL Bacialé arrived fully ripe with clear varietal characters.
In 2010 with only 3 weeks of extreme heat, it rained nearly three times as much as it did in 2003 and as a result, the vines never suffered from hydric stress. From a climatic standpoint, it is as if we had traveled back in time: there are more than a few similarities with 1996 and 1982.
In 2010, hard work was necessary in the vineyards. The frequent springtime rains made vineyard management more difficult than usual and the rainfall in late August and September was a cause of concern for grape growers who feared that the health of their fruit would be compromised. In Piedmont, winemakers were somewhat surprised to find that harvest ended with superior quality.
In fact, the 2010 harvest will make for harmonious, balanced and elegant wines,
endowed with bright, vibrant acidity and measured alcohol content.
The winter 2008/2009 has been characterised by considerable precipitation which helped to restore the water reserves of the soils. Especially the abundant snowfalls have been useful in this sense and also effected a delayed revival of the vine’s vegetation of approximately 10 days.
Due to high May temperatures we could record an ideal germination which compensated for the initial delay and also flowering and fruit set commenced earlier compared to more regular vintages influenced by warm spring and early summer temperatures; this premature overall development was intensified until the harvest.
After this extraordinary kick-off a very hot and dry month of August followed which is comparable to the summer of 2003 (the hottest of the last 10 years), continued by a month of September that was as hot and dry.
According to the extreme weather conditions the grapes arriving at our winery for vinification were particularly healthy with a high degree of maturation exceeding any empirical experience especially regarding the sugar levels.
Our task for 2009 is to produce characteristic and aromatic wines that are simultaneously harmonious and poised!
“In the vineyard, 2008 had a good spring thanks to a fairly mild end of winter.
But florescence came in a cold, rainy period, and this caused a few early varieties (Moscato, Brachetto) to lose product due to dropped flowers.
Later varieties (especially Barbera) suffered only slightly from this problem.
The summer had rapidly changing weather, with very hot and sunny days as well as cold and rainy days. This demanded enormous work in the vineyard to check phyto-health and vegetation at ground level (grass at the rows was mowed very often) and at the leaves, which were stimulated by frequent rains.
The season ended perfectly, with warm, sunny days and cold nights that let the grapes ripen slowly and promoted development of aromatic substances.
This benefited the whites (Moscato, Chardonnay, and Riesling), which are very ripe and very aromatic.
As for the reds (Grignolino, Pinot nero, Merlot, Barbera, Cabernet sauvignon), they ripened perfectly as well, with exceptional quality for vineyards intended for “bricchi” (Bricco dell’Uccellone, Bricco della Bigotta, and Ai Suma).
In brief, the vintage was of excellent quality, with healthy and perfectly ripe grapes. Yields were a bit below average.”
The 2007 vintage is the smallest in the last 60 years. About 40.5 million hectolitres of wine will be made, 18% less than the 49,631,000 hectolitres made in 2006. 2,580,000 hectolitres of wine will be made in Piedmont , 20% less than in 2006.
This year’s weather was unusual, with drought extending to October, followed by a few storms that only partially replenished the water reserves.
Temperatures were above average in the winter and spring. As a result, flowering was 10-20 days earlier than normal. Temperatures remained above average during the entire vintage.
The weather during the vintage was hot and sunny, with rain in late August that balanced the ripening of red grapes.
Day-time and night-time temperatures stayed high until mid-September, after which temperature ranges returned to more normal levels.
The grapes are in excellent health.
The small grapes and whole but thick skins partially make up for the smaller amount produced. Sugar level is quite high, especially in red grape varieties which, in several cases, are expected to reach 15% alcohol.
Moscato presents an extremely interesting concentration of aromas accompanied by excellent sugar content and sufficient acidity. Red wines (especially Barbera) have very fine colour, while Nebbiolo for Barbaresco and Barolo are wonderfully perfumed with lively soft tannins thanks to excellent phenolic aging.
The climate in 2006 and, in particular, the sum of average daily temperatures, strongly influenced vine growth and grape ripening. Periods of above-average temperatures alternated with periods of below-average temperatures throughout the year.
Vines suffered the effects of these temperature swings by alternating periods of rapid growth with others in which phenol development seemed “frozen.”
Vines were also influenced by water levels: after some scarcity in the spring, reserves reached warning levels (especially in July and August 2006), and growth stopped in many vineyards, especially in younger vineyards and those on loose ground.
Relief from the drought arrived in August, with cooler temperatures and modest rainfall, but we had to wait for the rains in the second half of September to see any real effect on the grapes: first, significantly increased yield per hectare, then a progressive decrease in grape quality.
In short, there were enormous differences between ripe grapes picked before and those picked after the rains in the second half of September. Once again, pruning was required in order to lighten the yield of vines suffering from water stress and to limit production on high-yield vines. Where this technique was used, we obtained a very high sugar level accompanied by pronounced but not excessive acidity.
The main characteristics of the vintage can be summarised under the following 4 points:
• Phenological stages within expected limits, initially showing earlier ripening than in 2004. The early ripening slowed down during the course of the ripening process, but overall the harvesting operations nevertheless started a few days earlier than they did last year.
• The grape ripening process was seriously affected by the rains that fell during September-October, with rapid increases in maturation alternating with periods of stagnation, or even regression of the parameters in the days immediately following the rains. This notwithstanding, on average the harvested grapes had reached an optimum level of ripeness.
• After a particularly productive vintage such as that of 2004, this year we have returned to values that are closer to the average.
• On average, the health of the grapes appeared to be good. The application of proper cultivation techniques resulted in a noticeable improvement in the judgement of the health of the grapes.
Judgement of the grapes:
Dolcetto – The build-up of sugars in most cases turned out to be excellent and the acidity was ideal. From a health point of view as well, the grapes stood up very well to a hard year. Chardonnay – Excellent build-up of sugars and excellent acidity for the Chardonnay; the health of the grapes was reasonable.
Brachetto e Moscato – The build-up of sugars was good, the acid balance was excellent for the Moscato and a little high for the Brachetto. The varietal fragrances were very intense.
Grignolino – Build-up of sugars was good to excellent, as was the acidity. The health of the grapes was reasonable.
Barbera – Excellent build-up of sugars. Total acidity a little too high, above all because of the poor breakdown of the malic acids.
The first few months of 2004 were characterised by the abundant rains, which restored many of the water reserves that were so badly drained during the 2003 season, and a slow vegetative revival of the vines: germination occurred 8-10 days later than that seen in recent years.
Spring was normal, without late frosts and with a rainfall that was average for the period. Thereafter, all told, the rainy periods were limited, brief and well spaced; this favoured abundant but normal vegetative growth in the vines, with limited occurrences of deficiencies or nutritional imbalances.
During 2004 the vines, on average, produced a high number of medium-large bunches; already at the start of the summer it was possible to predict an abundant quantitative harvest.
The summer temperatures never reached very high levels and there was no sign of the periods of extreme sultriness that characterised previous summer seasons: the start of colouration of the fruit only became apparent in the first few days of August. Initial grape samples showed a significant delay in the ripening.
Fortunately the predictions of a difficult harvest were swept away by a perfect September: the above-average temperatures, the significant differences between daytime and night time temperatures, the windy and sunny days with low relative humidity and only one brief rainy interlude at mid-month were all factors that favoured the ripening of the grapes. In fact, all the grape samples taken during the whole of September showed a constant and significant increase in the sugar content of the grapes, accompanied by a normal breakdown in the acidity. The ongoing favourable weather conditions ensured excellent grape health and allowed the harvest date to be postponed.
When harvested, the grapes had a high sugar content, together with an almost perfect acid balance; there were high levels of anthocyanins in the red grapes: generally speaking, the wines will have lower alcohol levels than those of the 2003 wines, but will certainly be more balanced, characteristic and elegant. The fragrant varieties such as the Moscato will have an excellent terpene content, which will result in very aromatic wines.
By paying particular attention to the protection of the grapes, and therefore their health, thinning out at the proper time, allowing the vines sufficient time for the grapes to ripen fully and harvesting late has resulted in the production of great wines.
This is among the varieties to benefit the most from the unusual summer climate.
The accumulation of sugars in the berries was exceptional throughout. Fixed acidity, which had decreased to the danger point for many cultivars, reached excellent levels for the Barbera, with optimal ratios between malic and tartaric acids. The harvesting operations began further ahead of schedule than ever seen before, in the first days of September, and continued according to the zone and vineyard throughout the month. The quantity of grapes produced was lower than that of 2002 .
The accumulation of anthocyanins in the berries was not inhibited by the intense heat as was observed in other varieties.
Production of quite alcoholic wines of great extraction is estimated, with truly excellent balance and softness.
GRADE OF GRAPE
Seasonal progress of the last seven years has spoiled us to the point where it is difficult to accept certain atmospheric adversities. It is undeniable that the summer of 2002 was a fairly anomalous season, cold and rainy, blustery and stormy, but as always it is also true that the life cycle of the vines does not end with the summer; maturation of the grape proceeds into the fall. The hail fell on some of our barbera vines in a fairly light form during the month of June; the grapes affected by it were able to dry out and the damage was only quantitative; however, the continuous alternating periods of great humidity and warmth compromised the possibility of a uniform maturation of the grapes. A positive result was ensured through many phytosanitary treatments, manual defoliation operations to increase air circulation, thinning out the bunches, and a double harvest collection. It was decided right away that the grapes for the Bricco dell’Uccellone, Bricco della Bigotta, Ai Suma and Asso di Fiori (Serra dei Fiori) had not attained the level of quality necessary to sustain the aging process, so, processed separately, they would go to improve the quality of the Monella, Bacialè, Montebruna and Il Fiore
GRADE OF GRAPE
The primary phenological phases for the Barbera grapes are seen in the slight earliness with respect to average years, but the harvest began, as it normally has in recent years, the third week in September.
A frost in mid-April lowered the yield. Fortunately, the violent hail that struck the area up until a few days before the harvest spared us.
Having maintained a good balance between leaf walls and number of bunches, we contained the problem of grapes shriveling under the hot sun in the most exposed areas.
In general, we can affirm that the must presents more than satisfactory analytical parameters, with elevated sugar grades and medium-balanced acidity.
GRADE OF GRAPE
In this vintage year we registered a net positive result for quality.
A slight delay in the germination combined with earlier subsequent phenolical phases brought us to the harvest a few days earlier than last year.
If the anomolous heat during some of June and especially August favored maturation, the frequent rain created significant concern for defense against blight, which was rarely so aggressive and insidious in the past.
Harvesting began on September 8 with the Brachetto, Pinot Nero, Moscato, Grignolino and so on to the Barbera, ending the last week of October with the Barbera grapes destined for Ai Suma.
GRADE OF GRAPE