The 2017 vintage will probably be remembered as good but not great in Valpolicella. There are positives – but also some question marks. In the words of Marco Sartori, owner-winemaker at the Roccolo Grassi estate, ‘It was not a classic vintage’.
The summer of 2017 was one of the hottest since 1994, with record peaks in July and average temperatures consistently above the 30-year average from May to August. Valpolicella however was spared the worst extremes, escaping serious damage during the frosts which hit other regions of northern Italy in April, in part thanks to the traditional high-trained pergola system, which keeps the canopy out of the danger area close to the ground.
Providential rain in June and July helped to keep drought stress within manageable levels. Picking began early and was generally over by the first week of September, up to 10 days ahead of the norm. Specific data for Amarone are not available but in the Veneto as a whole, production was down 20% on 2016. For Amarone too, in terms of quantity, it was certainly a small vintage.