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Italy: Harvest Report ’10 for Piemonte and Tuscany

Posted: Friday, 12 November 2010 11:04

Italy: Harvest Report ’10 for Piemonte and Tuscany

The 2010 vintage in Italy will be remembered among the least productive in terms of quantity and perhaps the sparsest but the overall quality is good, with scattered excellence here and there, writes Angelo Gaja giving insight into the provinces of Piedmont and Tuscany, taking example of his own premium wineries in Barbaresco, Bolgheri and Montalcino.

In the right amounts, sun and rain are what create quality in Piemontese wines, the Nebbiolo-based wines of Barbaresco and Barolo being among them. But the climatic progression of 2010 has been different from that of the previous ten years.

During the summer of 2003, there were eight exceptionally hot weeks. In 2010, there were only two. In 2010, it rained nearly three times as much as it did in 2003 and as a result, the vines never suffered from hydric stress. From a climatic standpoint, it is as if we had traveled back in time: there are more than a few similarities with 1996 and 1982.

In 2010, hard work was necessary in the vineyards. The frequent springtime rains made vineyard management more difficult than usual and the rainfall in late August and September was a cause of concern for grape growers who feared that the health of their fruit would be compromised. In Piedmont, winemakers were somewhat surprised to find that harvest ended with superior quality.

In fact, the 2010 harvest will make for harmonious, balanced and elegant wines,
endowed with bright, vibrant acidity and measured alcohol content.

As in the past, the Nebbiolo vineyards which received great care, with the best exposure and terroir, will be those achieving the most excellence in wines.


Tuscany also experienced plentiful rainfall in 2010 and there were relatively few exceptionally hot weeks. The weather of another era has returned. For instance, at Pieve Santa Restituta winery in Montalcino, things could not have gone better, due in part to a little bit of skill but also thanks to chance and luck: we chose the best moments to work in the vineyards; the choice to green harvest on two different occasions delivered better results than in the more effective previous years, and we predicted the right time to begin the harvest.

Our early, though not definitive tastings of the recently vinified wine lead us all to believe that we have created the best vintage of Brunello di Montalcino since 1994, the year we acquired Pieve Santa Restituta.

At Ca’Marcanda, the season began in Bolgheri with a mild winter and average rainfall.
Then, from April until June, the rainfall was frequent and plentiful, so much so that it seemed as though we had returned to the bizarre vintages of another era. In the majority of vineyards, in the flatlands, the drainage of rainwater took place slowly, causing stagnation that made access difficult for mechanical farm tools when anti-parasitic treatments needed to be carried out. There was no lack of anxious moments and genuine concern.

A hot and dry July helped to make up for some of the delay that had been accumulated in vegetative development. It was during this period that we began to prune and drop fruit at Ca' Marcanda, a green harvest more severe than in the past years. Our intervention was rewarded with quality in an otherwise climatically difficult year.

The rain began to fall again, every so often, from the end of August until the end of September. As a result, we had to harvest (by hand, as always) not just during the work-week but on Saturdays and Sundays as well. A vintage marked by bizarre weather, just as it used to be in another time.

We were surprised, however, by the quality of the vintage, excellent for no less than 80% of the harvest. Wines from the 2010 vintage will be lean, balanced, with excellent
acidity and aromatic character.

Angelo Gaja
November 10, 2010

Gaja winery, Barbaresco, Piedmont
Pieve S. Restituta winery, Montalcino, Tuscany
Ca’ Marcanda Winery, Bolgheri, Tuscany

Angelo Gaja needs no introduction. Aptly referred to as the Prince of Piemonte, he brought Barbaresco on the world wine map. Besides Barbaresco, he also owns wineries in Montalcino and Maremma making ultra premium wines. He is one of the most recognised and awarded wine celebrities of the world and a great orator. He is totally passionate and supportive about the genuinely Made in Italy products. Last year when he spoke at the first World Wine Symposium in Lake Como, he cast a spell on the audience, with the interpreters gasping for breath well after he had left the ‘stage’.


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