The year 2010 will be remembered in Montalcino for the delay in the commencement of the budding owing to below-average Spring temperatures and frequent rains that characterised this period, a situation that subsequently favoured a strong vegetative development and provoked some problems in the setting of the flowers, which caused a slight cutback in production of around 10%.
In this phase the steps taken to combat the development of diseases (particularly peronospora and oidium) were crucial and in a situation like Montalcino, made up of mainly medium sized and small farms – they took place with excellent results.
The summer period was marked by good stable weather, with just a few rains during August that mitigated the heat and favoured a recovery of the phenological phase, even though the beginning of the veraison happened around ten days late compared to the average of the last ten years.
But Sangiovese shows all its capacities of recovery during the ripening period of the bunches if the weather conditions remain favourable, which is what happened this year, allowing a harmonious development of the phenolic and sugar ripening.
The wines obtained in this harvest – begun with delays of a minimum of 8 to a maximum of 14 days – show extraordinary characteristics for Sangiovese, both under the organoleptic profile (currently still in its evolutionary phase), and under that of the parameters of composition, which – apart from an excellent alcohol level of content, in some cases rather high – present extremely high levels of total polyphenols, anthocyanins and extract rarely found in this variety.
by Vittorio Fiore
STRENGTH OF THE TERRITORY AND KNOW-HOW OF WINEMAKERS
THE SECRET OF MONTALCINO WINES
Attilio Scienza, President of Viticulture and Enology Studies at the
Faculty of Agronomy of the Università degli Studi di Milano
The viticulture year that closed with the picking of the last red grapes was a confirmation of how the weather conditions of the period preceding the harvest determine more than any other phase the sensorial characteristic of the wine.
It can certainly not be said that the autumn of 2010 was favourable to viticulture and the sentence that old viticulturists often repeat “there are no seasons any more like there used to be”, is sadly no longer a ritual exclamation but an observation of a climate change that we are unable to interpret despite the centuries’ old experience of winemakers.
Forecasting is made difficult by the topoclimate and its effects, i.e. the fact that a violent rainfall can happen unexpectedly while just a few kilometres away there could be merely a few drops.
If these phenomena repeat themselves often throughout the year, managing the vineyard becomes very difficult indeed, not only in the fight against fungus diseases, but in the controlling of the vegetation and in the calculation of the amount of grapes to be left on the vine during the thinning process, and the intensity of green pruning of the leaves needed.
Moreover the extremely variable pedological, orographic and altitudinal conditions of Montalcino in such a vast territory, make the viticulturist’s task even harder. Among the viticulture areas of quality grapes that look like the spots of a leopard on the map of Italy, the Montalcino area was not affected by these factors.
And the proof is in the newly drawn wines that feature great elegance, not without structure and duration on the palate, not insignificant characteristics for a wine destined to aging and with longevity without equal in any other wine in the world.
But how come the effects of unfavourable weather conditions did not spoil the integrity of Montalcino wines? I believe the answer is to be found in a simple observation: Sangiovese vineyards have a vegetative-productive balance that allows them to amortize most efficiently the strain and negative effects of excessive rains on the grapes. This balance is due to various factors, some are the result of a pedoclimactic environment extremely propitious for wines that age for a long time ; the drainage of soils, their richness in skeleton, their low chemical fertility that enables a moderated development of the vegetation, the great difference in temperature between night and day, while others are based on the know-how of viticulturists who in the course of their long history have always followed two fundamental principles in the production of Brunello: : their fidelity to the territory and their honour as producers. There are few places in the world, famous for the quality of their wines, where it is possible to see as in Montalcino, vineyards so well tended and grapes with such regular maturity, even in difficult years, and the proof is that a vineyard rightly balanced with the territory that hosts it has an inherent capacity to react to any climactic injury.
THE TECHNICAL OPINION OF PRODUCERS
Giancarlo Pacenti of the Siro Pacenti estate and
Vice-president of the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino
A great Territory and a year of great viticulturists. This is the synthesis of the year 2010. We have come back to the times of the classic harvests, the end of September for the Southern area of Montalcino and mid October for the Northern part of the hill with perfectly ripe grapes both from the technical point of view and from the polyphenolic contents with values that are rarely found in Sangiovese and only within its territory of choice. A result made possible - in a year that had appeared at the beginning as quite complex - only thanks to the great capacity of Montalcino viticulturists. Excellent structure, intense perfumes and above all great balance together with an extraordinary elegance. Characteristics that one cannot easily find all together in the same harvest. For me it is one of the best harvests of all time.
Edoardo Virano Col’ d’Orcia
The wines obtained from the 2010 harvest are extraordinarily fruity and coloured, characterised by ripe and persistent tannins fit for a long period of aging and with longevity in the years to come. The Sangiovese crop, begun around the 10th of September with grapes that were healthy, ripe with thick skins and crisp, continued regularly through to the 20th October. already from the first phase of maceration an excellent extraction could be seen both in the colour and in the tannins. The final result is a great vintage, definitely one of the best of the last years.
Ermanno Morlacchetti Tenute di Castelgiocondo e Luce della Vite Soc. Agr. S.r.l.
Fairly normal weather conditions even though they were marked by abundant rainfalls in the winter-spring period. These rains provided the land with an excellent water reserve, which proved valuable during the summer months. At the end of July the veraison started and the ripening continued in an optimal way. The heat in the day and the cold of the night contributed to the “miracle” that took place: an accumulation of sugar, above all of polyphenols and colouring agents (anthocyanins) that had very rarely been seen in the past. At the harvest the grapes were perfectly healthy without signs of stress from lack of water or burns and intensely coloured. In Castelgiocondo the harvest destined for Rosso began around the 20th of September and continued until the 10th of October fro the grapes destined for Brunello and for Riserva.
Currently in the winery the new wines reflect the characteristics of the grapes: important alcohol contents, intensely coloured with excellent structure and absolute value, indications that point to a “legendary vintage”.
Patrizio Cencioni, Azienda Agricola la Capanna
In the 2010 harvest, as far as we are concerned, we obtained excellent quality wines, both from organoleptic and analytical tests. I would go so far as to define this vintage as exceptional. The result is clearly superior to the expectations I had in the summer, after the very rainy spring weather until mid-June – had caused a certain delay in the vegetative phase of the vines; and the rains that fell in the first part of August made one foresee a medium quality harvest. And instead, in the next period of sunny days with fairly low night temperatures, the ripening took place progressively giving ripe grapes but with a good acidity; we found these characteristics even more accentuated in the new wines: high alcohol contents but with high total acidity and above all both quantity and quality of polyphenols; very intense colours with exceptional tones. Moreover due to the absence of extreme temperatures in summer, the perfumes too are very fruity and clean. Despite the high alcohol contents, in our winery there was no halting of the fermentation and the wines are already finishing their malolactic fermentation in the oak barrels we use for this process.
Fabio Ratto Antinori soc. Agricola
The 2010 harvest is without doubt a very important one! The course that led to the harvest of these fine-looking grapes began with the mostly mild winter of 2009 that was followed by a spring of heavy rainfalls, and a summer of perfect days, with no extreme temperatures and regular rains at good intervals. These weather conditions combined with the careful farming enabled us to obtain excellent quality grapes that benefited from the sun and gentle breezes of September that accompanied the grape picking from the end of September to mid-October. Fortunately the rainfalls during the harvest were very brief and the sunny days enabled the bunches to reach a perfect maturity, giving us a first quality raw material. From the first days of vinification, the wines appeared rich in marvellous colours and soft tannins, with a structure that became stronger by the day giving a truly important product. For sure in Montalcino this will be a… superior harvest.
Rudi Buratti, Castello Banfi
High sugar content and an important acidity together with perfectly ripe polyphenols and intense colours in the red wines, are the principal characteristics of this last vintage: an excellent premise for very high and long aging quality wines. During the first phase of the vegetative development, from the end of April to the middle of June, abundant rainfalls took place accompanied by under-average temperatures. The weather changed after the first half of June with milder temperatures and substantially fewer rainfalls. Light rains then returned only at the beginning of September without affecting the harvests. The ripening of the grapes took place in ideal conditions, thanks above all to the thermal excursion between day and night, particularly accentuated during the month of September. The entire vegetative cycle, begun late compared to the average of the previous years, delayed the start of the grape picking. the harvest of 2010 started late compared to the preceding years. From this point of view the year 2010 brings us back to the splendours of the nineties. We began on the 30th of August with the Pinot Grigio, and continued in the following days with the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay. Once the white grapes were picked the harvest of the early red ones started: Merlot and Syrah and ended with the Sangioves destined for Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. Sangiovese this year expresses the complexity of the perfumes and the well-structured elegance of its tannin background. A vintage, therefore, characterised by an excellent quality level that will surprise aficionados of Brunello and all Montalcino wines. Once again Montalcino proves the uniqueness of its territory and its clear viticulturist vocation by rewarding its producers who know how best to interpret the management of viticulture in the various sub-zones.
Fabrizio Bindocci – Agronomist and Enologist - Tenuta Il Poggione
We had a mild and rainy winter followed by a mild rainy spring. The summer was hot with temperatures that did not reach excessive peaks (maximum 35.4º C. on July 16) with significant thermal excursion between day and night that favoured richness in polyphenols and scents. The rains that marked this summer did not cause health problems for the grapes but they did involve more care in the farming of the vines and more defoliation in July and August. The hot ventilated days of September and October brought about a perfect maturity of the Sangiovese grapes handpicked from mid-September until mid-October. Right from the first days of fermentation the wines showed an intense colour, charged with fairly soft tannins, promising – at least here in Montalcino – a decisively good vintage.