Castello Banfi of Montalcino, Tuscany’s premier vineyard estate, reports that their white grape harvest in Tuscany is complete, and the quality is fine.
“It was an extremely arid growing season, with very little rainfall,” said family proprietor Cristina Mariani-May. “As a result we saw early ripening and low volume compared to previous years – about 25% less than 2011 -- but the quality is very good.”
Montalcino in particular experienced an uncharacteristically warm spring, seeing an average March temperature that was double the norm, followed by a similarly hot April.
“The summer came early,” said Enrico Viglierchio, General Manager for Castello Banfi, “and it’s still with us now as we begin picking the reds.”
A heat wave baked Montalcino in August, creating desert-like conditions through much of the region. In some areas, “irrigazione di soccorso” (emergency irrigation) was necessary to keep the early-ripening vines healthy.
“Our team rose to the challenge presented by Mother Nature,” said Ms. Mariani-May, “and they did an outstanding job of working the land so that the grapes developed fully and naturally.”
The vineyards were recently doused with much-needed rain and the thermometer is finally showing more seasonal temperatures. Both are welcome and good signs for the next phase of the harvest – the red wine grapes.
“The climate is now good and we had a little bit of rain that, combined with the more regular temperature, will help the vineyards proceed with polyphenolic maturation,” said Viglierchio.
The harvest is proceeding now with Syrah, followed by Sangiovese in a week to ten days.