Winemakers across Italy appear confident about the 2015 wine harvest, despite a summer heatwave that forced some to use emergency irrigation.

Italy wine harvest conditions ‘favourable’

The Unione Italiana Vini, which represents wine producers throughout Italy, reported ‘more or less negligible’ disease thanks to a ‘favourable climate throughout the season’, but reported ‘among highest July temperatures’ in the last few years.

An absence of rainfall also burned or dehydrated bunches in some vineyards, ‘requiring emergency irrigation operations.’

At Castello di Fonterutoli in Chianti, where the 2015 wine harvest is expected to end in two weeks, co-owner Marchese Francesco Mazzei said three weeks of heat provoked a halt to the vegetative cycle of his Sangiovese vines, but the sun and relieving rain at the end of August and September improved things.

‘We still have a couple of weeks to go… but it looks to be like a pretty good vintage,’ said Mazzei of the harvest, which started on 7 September.

Irrigation equipment was seen along slopes of vineyards in the northern region of Trentino, which produces nearly 75% white wine.

Annual rainfall is typically about 1,000mm, but it was only about 400mm in 2015, with July temperatures reaching up to 40˚C (104˚F), said Matthias Clementi, winemaker at Villa Corniole in Verla, although he reported very few cases of rot.

Clementi added that the cooler September nights helped retain freshness in his Müller Thurgau grapes, so ‘it will not be like 2003.’

Domenico Zonin, Chief Executive Officer of Casa Vinicola Zonin S.p.A, said that his Syrah and Nero d’Avola in Sicily are of very good quality, with good concentration as well as freshness, thanks to the cooler September.

Based on a survey of wine producers from end August until first week of September, the Unione Italiana Vini reported a production of 47m hectolitres for the entire country.

This is a 12 per cent increase on last year’s 42m, although the 2014 harvest was deemed ‘particularly modest’.

However, the hot summer has limited yields for some vineyards. At Tenuta di Aglaea of Mount Etna in Sicily, the crop is expected to be lower than average given the hot summer, said domain representative Anne-Louise Mikkelsen.

Pickings of Nerello Mascalese should start on 10 October, she said. ‘We think that the cooler September month will add elegance to the concentration brought by the hot summer.’

  • Jonathan CLAXTON

    I live in the north of the Bourgogne in France; the pinot noir this year, as grapes and potential wine, taste the most intense, richest, best balanced with good acidity I’ve sampled (as grapes) since 2008 although the 09’s were lovely and of course made great wines. The grapes were also some of the smallest I’ve seen since living there especially just across into the Aube Champagne region. And so hot / dry was the season that there were hardly any flies – doors and windows open freely all day and night, of course there maybe a catastrophic ecological backlash to this – might be worth the stretch!