Though a mid-August hail storm swept through a strip of the Brunello zone and devastated the vineyards of a handful of neighboring producers, the region’s leading vineyard estate, Castello Banfi, reported only minor damage and began its 2008 harvest.
“Twelve days after the storm, and with favorable climatic conditions, we began harvesting our vineyards of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, followed by Sauvignon Blanc” noted Ms. Mariani-May. “The quality for the white wines is excellent.”
The previous winter was rainy but mild, followed by a similarly moderate spring. There was abundant rainfall through the first half of June, turning to alternating periods of high temperatures and cooler rainy days throughout July. These conditions combined to slow down the development of the grapes, from flowering through ripening. A few days of modest rainfall in September had little effect on the grapes, and after a weeklong “Indian Summer” heatwave, temperatures cooled down. With the whites completely harvested, attention turned first toward the early ripening red varietals, starting with Merlot and Syrah. A return to normal patterns of warm sunny days and cool nights was welcomed as ideal for polyphenolic maturation of the red grapes, especially important for the Sangiovese and Cabernet, the last varietals to be picked into early October.
The 2008 harvest is to be considered between 3 and 4 stars for all those red wines that require long ageing.
Quantities were slightly higher than last year.