Last vintage report
The most challenging vintage of this century has certainly been 2021: the terrible frosts of April 8th and 9th were followed by a very hot and dry summer…it was only thanks to painstaking work in the vineyards that we arrived at harvest with well ripened and not burned grapes.
The showers between September 18th and 19th were very timely for the Sangiovese which experienced optimum ripening within the average date ranges for this varietal on our hillsides.
For our Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio harvested between September 21st and 22nd a careful selection was made in the vineyard, bunch by bunch, selecting only the best ones so that this wine can be more than ever a profound and authentic expression of our Umbria.
HARVEST INITIATION REPORT
During the last week of September we harvested the Sangiovese from the Brufa hillsides for our classic Rubesco: very good ripening and above all great resistance during skin contact thanks to its excellent polyphenol content.
In Montefalco, as always, the Sagrantino wrapped up the 2021 harvest; picking took place during the first week of October with average yields, grapes with balanced maturation and tannins of optimum elegance.
This year the harvest began on August, about 7-10 days earlier than in 2019; as always the first grapes to be harvested were the ones destined for our Metodo Classico sparkling wine.
The growing season was characterized by a very dry and mild spring which resulted in early budding and shoot development.
Thanks to the abundant rainfall in May and the first decade of June, the vineyards did not experience any water shortages, despite the high temperatures which arrived suddenly in July – following an unusually cool spell at the end of June – and which did not diminish until after mid-September. Although the maturation levels of the white grapes were significantly higher than in 2019, both lower-than-average yields and timely harvesting were instrumental in maintaining both grape acidity and the aromatic components of the grapes.
The red grape harvest began with Merlot as early as the first decade of September, clearly presenting excellent colour, concentration and fragrant, fruity scents.
For the Sangiovese harvest we waited until the fourth week of September: due to a rainy spell starting about the 18th of the month and a return to cooler temperatures, the ripening windows were slightly later than those of the white grapes. The Sangiovese arriving in the cellars showed excellent maturation – both in sugar and phenolic content – and perfect health, also thanks to careful canopy management carried out in our vineyards.
To date our red wines have completed their fermentations but will remain on the skins until at least the third week of October to ensure the optimum extraction of polyphenols.
In Montefalco the Sagrantino and Sangiovese grapes successfully tolerated the insistent rainfall in the second half of September, thanks to their resistant skin and careful, patient work in the vineyard: the bunches were accurately de-leafed to allow optimal aeration and eliminate any possible pocket of humidity.
Our harvest wrapped up on October 7th and we are now ready to begin harvesting the olives!
In Spring 2019, budding, along with the initiation of shoot growth, took place within the norm, between the end of March and early April. This was, however, followed by a particularly cold and rainy month of May which drastically slowed down vine growth and resulted in delayed flowering; this took place at the end of May for the early-ripening varietals, up to June 10th for the late-ripening reds. Consequently, the phases of veraison and maturation were also delayed by about one month but partially recovered thanks to the July heat, thereby bringing the harvest to its normal timeframe.
The abundant rainfall in May, which followed a dry winter, was instrumental in creating water reserves in the soil, thereby avoiding any type of hydric stress in the vines despite the hot, dry summer.
The harvest was particularly long; it began on August 23rd with the varietals for our spumante base, followed by early-ripening whites and closing the month of August with the Chardonnay for Aurente. September was characterized by wide diurnal ranges and a dry heat which favoured long ripening times for the Torre di Giano white grapes (Grechetto, Vermentino and Trebbiano) that therefore reached the winery with significantly higher sugar levels than in 2018 and perfect acidity levels.
The Sangiovese harvesting for Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio began between the end of September and early October with impeccably healthy grapes of excellent quality. The vineyards higher on the hills experienced earlier ripening; thus, at the end of the first week of October we picked the Sangiovese for classic Rubesco from the mid-hill vineyards, which produced wines that are pleasant, fresh with fruit and with generous acidity.
The 2019 harvest was wrapped up in mid-October with the picking of Sagrantino grapes in Montefalco, confirming a positive and particularly rewarding vintage.
The 2018 harvest was terminated on October 9th with the harvest of Sagrantino grapes for our Montefalco Sagrantino Passito. In Torgiano we wrapped up one day earlier with the Cabernet Sauvignon destined for our San Giorgio.
Overall the harvest was generous and of excellent quality thanks to the absence of any significant precipitation during the picking phases and a fantastic range of diurnal shifts, with almost summer-like daytime temperatures and fresh, breezy nights. All these excellent conditions produced dry, perfectly healthy grapes with good alcohol content.
The white wines are very balanced with more moderate alcohol levels than in 2017; acidity, on the other hand, was higher than the previous year and together with an ample and elegant aromatic framework, will favour a long aging potential in both our structured white wines as well as the classic ones.
As early as the pressing stage (upon arrival at the winery and before being transferred to the fermentation vats) the red grapes were releasing lively and decisive colour. We prolonged the post-fermentation skin maceration up to 40 days, thanks to the perfect balance of tannins which are mature and never aggressive.
The results are Sangiovese-based wines that as early as during the racking stage promise great balance, soft tannins and vibrant acidity which all point to great aging potential. The Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines appear to have the most concentration with a bouquet that is never over-ripe but tends towards lovely scents of fresh red fruits.
At the Montefalco Estate, we have finished racking the Sagrantino wines in the second half of November with wines that are presenting themselves with excellent structure, powerful but balanced and ready for the precious stage of refining in oak.
The 2017 harvest was officially concluded at the end of September with the picking of Sagrantino grapes in Montefalco, confirming that this is a vintage to be remembered in terms of early ripening and substantial grape concentration. Some sporadic rainfall in the second half of September was successful in “mitigating” the excesses of the summer’s heat, balancing out the ripening process and allowing us to harvest with slightly longer intervals compared to the earlier harvested grapes. Overall the white grapes, thanks to the precious contribution of summer irrigation, have produced wines with good aromatic profile, higher alcohol levels compared to 2016, but balanced and structured.
The red grapes with medium to late ripening (Sangiovese) and the late-ripening varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon and Sagrantino) have produced wines that are very concentrated, alcoholic and with great power – wines in which the tannic component has been kept under control in the cellars by using great care in the macerations and reducing the punching-down frequencies, in order to optimize and balance the vintage’s exuberant alcohol content. On the other hand, the 2017 harvest has confirmed itself as one of the vintages with the lowest quantity of the past decades.
The 2016 harvest was completed on October 15th; during the final phases, harvesting was quite prolonged, making it one of the longest-lasting and latest harvests of the past number of years.
The last varietals to be picked were the Sagrantino in Montefalco and several lots of Sangiovese in Torgiano from the higher Brufa hillsides, which were deliberately left on the vines in order to reach optimum ripening.
These grapes have successfully withstood the rains of early October that were interspersed with good northerly winds and accompanied by an unusual drop in temperature, resulting in great health conditions along with perfect maturation.
Overall, the outcome of the 2016 harvest is definitely positive, having a number of similarities with the 2013 harvest; a late, fresh season with no stress concerning water supply or temperatures, which will ostensibly result in fresh wines with good acidity supported by suitable – and never excessive – alcohol levels.
The ripening has been varied in the different vineyards and parcels and this required a careful attention in harvest timing and consequently a precise selection of the grapes once in the cellars.
Overall, the 2015 harvest has confirmed the expectations from the initial harvesting phases and without any doubt whatsoever, it is a very promising vintage.
The white wines are displaying an outstanding balance between alcohol and acidity, without any excess in the aromatic notes recalling honey and yellow flowers, typical of hot growing seasons; on the contrary, they are expressing fresh scents characteristic of the more aromatic varieties such as Grechetto and Vermentino, which were harvested before the return of hot summer temperatures, for just a few days in mid-September.
Our Vigna Il Pino and Aurente wines, harvested in the first half of September, are particularly complex and elegant.
The Sangiovese grapes for Rubesco harvested in the second half of September reveal good structure and by the end of October will begin the malolactic fermentation in order to be transferred to wood aging as soon as possible.
The Sangiovese grapes from the Monticchio Vineyard dedicated to Rubesco Riserva are still undergoing maceration which we have decided to prolong this year, thanks to the perfectly healthy grapes. The expectations are magnificent, with tannins that are already revealing themselves as round and velvety. By the beginning of November they will be in barriques for the malolactic fermentation.
Concerning the Montefalco estate, the harvest was completed on October 12th; indeed, we prolonged the ripening as much as possible in order to take full advantage of the lovely weather between the end
of September and beginning of October. Currently, the Sagrantino is still fermenting; this will be followed by a long maceration, while the racking is forecast for at least the first 2 weeks of November, if not later. Also for this wine, we are anticipating that 2015 will be remembered as a wonderful vintage!
A difficult and definitely “cool” vintage which generated grapes characterized by distinctive acidity levels, that remained above average for the entire harvest.
The ripening windows were in line with the 2013 dates (fairly late with respect to our area), despite the fact that at the beginning of harvest they appeared to be slightly earlier than 2013.
The white varietals have produced fresh wines with a fragrant acidity and moderate alcohol content, perfectly in line with current market trends. From the aromatic point of view, extremely interesting results have been given by Vermentino, Grechetto and Chardonnay, whose bouquet clearly prevails over those of the other varietals, having benefited – especially the latter – from an end-of-August that was both hot and dry.
In terms of red varietals, both the Merlot as well as the majority of Sangiovese for the younger red wines were picked and brought to the winery in the second half of September. Despite the particularly humid growing season, the harvested grapes were in excellent health; the subsequent timely harvest of these grapes has certainly had a positive impact on the final results.
The varietals harvested later (Sangiovese for Rubesco and for Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sagrantino) have given extremely interesting red wines: thanks to the sunny, warm and breezy (dry) end of September and the entire month of October these grapes reached a perfect degree of maturation. The harvest finale has been worthy of a very good vintage. The long maceration periods during vinification and the fragrant acidity will be instrumental for wines with long aging potential.