Italy’s vintage will offer good or very good wines from many regions albeit in modest quantities. The best wines are likely to come from the north-west including the Barolo wines of Piedmont, the north-east including the Veneto and Friuli. Garganega and Trebbiano grapes ripened well for Soave wines and the Greco and Fiano wines of Campania are showing particularly well thanks to favourable weather leading up to the vintage.
Results for Tuscany are more varied and careful selection is required after a challenging year in the vineyard. The later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon fared better than Merlot and the quality of Sangiovese grapes was generally higher when growers picked later and from north-facing slopes.
Winter snowfall and spring rains created generous water reserves in the north enabling vines to withstand the dry summer that followed and high August temperatures. In the Veneto summer temperatures were above the historic average and growers welcomed rain in early September.
In Tuscany there was too much spring rain followed by a very hot summer.
‘The second half of August was like 2003 – but it wasn’t as hot in June and July – this led to sunburn and shrivel, so there was a lack of physiological ripeness in many zones,’ says Alberto Antonini, owner of the Poggiotondo estate.
The vintage was particular long for some. At the Banfi estate in Montalcino the harvest lasted for 44 days ending at the end of October but resulted in ‘exceptionally full-bodied wines with soft tannins and good acidity’ according to winemaker Ruddi Buratti.
Yields from the 2009 harvest were average or below average as a result of low rainfall and high summer temperatures. For producers of Valpolicella wines the crop is 10-20% lower than an average year. The figure for Chianti Classico is expected to be similar to last year’s figure of 268,000hl.