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1997 vintage guide for Italy Tuscany


An excellent vintage with fruity, well-balanced wines

Weather Conditions

A warm start to April brought the vegetation forward, but frost hit central Tuscany at the end of the month, causing considerable damage. The rest of the spring and summer however provided a rare combination of favourable conditions, with high temperatures but also the minimum indispensable rainfall. The fine weather lasted for the whole of the run in to the harvest which began in the middle of the September – up to ten days early for Sangiovese – and finished by 10th October. The fruit was in perfect condition; very concentrated, high in sugar and polyphenols but also with good balancing acidity. Quantities were down at least 10%.

Best Appellations

A great vintage, potentially the best of the decade and amongst the most important in the last thirty years. Very small production but superb wines across the whole of the region. The first Chiantis to come out demonstrated the superb quality of Sangiovese. The wines have fruit and aroma backed up by structure which will guarantee long and very positive development for the Chianti Riservas, Brunello and Vino Nobile. Cabernet and Merlot are also outstanding and promise a spectacular vintage both for mono-varietals and Super Tuscan blends.

Best Producers

Straight Chianti from Fontodi, Poggerino, Querciabella and Castello di Ama (especially their Vigna Bellavista) are great value to drink now or keep. Serious Sangiovese to lay down, while waiting for the Brunello due out in 2002, includes Castello di Verrazzano’s Sassello, Isola e Olena’s Cepparello, La Massa’s Giorgio Primo and Rufina Montesodi from Frescobaldi. Among the Super Tuscan‘s look for, Fonterutoli’s Siepi, Massetto from Ornellaia and the superb Vigna d’Alceo Cabernet Sauvignon from Castello di Rampolla.

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