Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018 and Riserva 2017
If 2017 was shaped by frost and drought, Montepulciano’s 2018 vintage can be characterised by its two distinct phases during the growing season.
The heavy rainfall in February and March that replenished severely depleted reserves continued until mid-July. Then, in an about-face, the weather became dry and windy. August through October boasted higher-than-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.
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The wet weather of the early season made vineyard management tricky. Peronospora was a constant threat: ‘It meant having to spray much more often,’ says Luca De Ferrari at Boscarelli, estimating a total of 13 to 14 treatments.
Furthermore, the vines were ‘hungover’ from the drought conditions of 2017. Development was irregular and slow at first, followed by sudden vigorous growth. The resulting clusters were compact and tight with large berries. Growers were concerned about botrytis but this was largely averted thanks to clement weather during veraison and leading up to harvest.
Favourable conditions late in the season encouraged even ripening. ‘We were able to pick with the right phenolic ripeness early October,’ asserts Giuseppe Rigoli, winemaker at Gracciano della Seta. And at Valdipiatta, Miriam Caporali explains that a dry September made it possible to spread the harvest over the entire month.
Nonetheless, late-September rain challenged some. Though not dissatisfied with the vintage, Michele Manelli at Salcheto admits to being a bit squeezed, saying that the vines never completely caught up after the cooler temperatures early in the summer. ‘We would have waited a few more days to harvest but it wasn’t possible because of sanitary pressure,’ he says. Marco Malavasi at Il Molinaccio concurs, asserting that ‘2018 was a good year but not good enough to produce a Riserva.’