As a consequence of these temperature levels there was an early start to root activity, and as a result guttation was already being observed in better-exposed vineyards in mid February.
Bud break took place between 24 March and 6 April, almost a week earlier than the average period for this phenological phase.
Spring was completely regular, both in terms of temperature and rainfall, as compared to recent years when the passage from winter temperature levels to summer temperatures had taken place abruptly. This meant that shoot growth was gradual and constant, without any slowdowns or sudden spurts. Flowering began around 25-26 May, when minimum temperatures had already stabilised above 10°C for a few days. At the beginning of June a rapid increase in temperatures was observed, reaching over 30°C every day from 6 to 13 June. This would turn out to be one of the hottest weeks of the year.
The high temperatures of this period led to contemporaneous flowering, even in vineyards with different exposures. The flowering process was brief, and was already complete by around 10 June throughout all the vineyards.
The first two weeks of June, which had seemed to signal the onset of summer, were followed by a period of marked instability, characterised by abundant rainfall, which continued until the end of July. Over 100 mm of rain fell in June, and temperatures were average for the period. In July, the weather was even more unusual: as well as the frequent and abundant rainfall that led to a monthly total of 100 mm, average maximum temperatures were decidedly below the long-term average maximum: 26.8°C against a long-term maximum average of around 29.7°C. The following month of August was also cooler than normal, with average maximum temperatures of 27.7°C against a long-term average maximum of 29.5°C. However, August experienced only brief and scattered showers (30 mm in total). The month of September was characterised by temperatures in line with the long-term average, and some days of rainfall concentrated in the second week.
In June and July the vines exhibited constant vegetative growth in response to these weather patterns, forming an impressive leaf canopy. This growth in turn demanded a significant commitment from winegrowers to keep it in check, in order to protect the grapes (primarily, preventing the onset of downy mildew), and to aerate the bunches by thinning and stripping the vegetation.
Veraison began and ended within the first three weeks of August. As with the flowering, the process was uniform and contemporaneous. The subsequent maturation of the grapes (sugar accumulation, acid degradation, polyphenol accumulation and so on), on the other hand, was slower than usual, owing to a combination of factors: the continuing availability of water led to a marked increase in grape size (around 25% larger than average), entailing a proportional dilution of the pulp; and the low brightness of a few days in September drastically reduced the vines' photosynthetic efficiency. It wasn't until towards the end of September that the Sangiovese grapes reached the level of maturity required to allow the production of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The grapes were harvested in the last week of September and the first ten days of October.
The 2014 wines are generally of a high quality. At the first tastings, following malolactic fermentation, they were appreciated for their very lively colours, decisive fruity notes, and medium body supported by a light tannic frame. From an analytical viewpoint, alcohol levels are between 13% and 13.5% ABV, with acidity and total polyphenol content within the average. To sum up, these are fine, elegant wines, promising greatness if they are finished with care, but they will not be of great longevity
last week of March - first week of April
25 May - 10 June
The year began with a winter characterised by spells of rainfall that were abundant and consistent enough to replenish and guarantee excellent water reserves in the soil. Spring 2013 was characterised by quite peculiar conditions: temperatures were around the average and there was abundant rainfall, but there were reasonably long dry periods between the spells of heavy rain, allowing producers to carry out the necessary work in the vineyards in good time. At the end of March recorded temperatures were average for the time of year, and the Sangiovese started bud break in the first three weeks of April. The subsequent growth of the shoots proceeded more or less as usual at this time.
Beginning in the month of May, we experienced temperatures below the average for the period, with frequent and abundant rainfall, causing all the development phases of the plants to slow down, so much so that the flowering and subsequent fruit setting took place about a week later than the average. This tardiness in the vegetative phases also allowed producers to keep the health of the vineyards in check relatively easily through July and August. The summer months weren't too hot and dry, and there were sporadic storms, some of which were very turbulent.
Veraison was noted from the beginning of August and over the following three weeks, putting progress back on course with Sangiovese's usual tardive nature. Development had been ten to twelve days behind the average, but this was made up for with the excellent weather conditions recorded in the month of September. Daytime temperatures of 28-30 degrees and favourable temperature ranges during the night meant that the ripening of the grapes proceeded at an accelerated pace, in terms of both sugar ripeness and phenolic ripeness.
Thus, by harvest time, the grapes had a reasonable sugar concentration, good acidity, and a good phenolic structure. The harvest began around the 20th of September, and continued into the first week of October.
In conclusion, this is a late vintage compared to the harvests we have become accustomed to recently, but not too late for an innately tardive vine variety like the Sangiovese.
On the whole, this was a demanding vintage from an agronomic point of view, and also from an enological point of view. Carefully evaluating the best time to harvest the grapes was critical: each vineyard's grapes were ripening at different rates depending on their location, exposure and terrain. Grape samples from each vineyard had to be separately evaluated to establish the optimum harvest time for that vineyard, and the harvest was organised accordingly.
At the moment the wines are very intriguing, with average alcohol levels and good acidity with slightly elevated pH levels. The colours are excellent, the aromas are good and the wines are also decently structured, with quite soft tannins. Cellar procedures are also very important, especially regarding maceration times. The 2013 vintage wines are elegant and fragrant, with good acidity and reasonable alcohol levels: there is a notable presence and persistence of the olfactory characteristics typical of the vine variety.
L’Anteprima del Vino Nobile 2017 è un evento organizzato e promosso dal Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Per maggiori informazioni vai su: www.consorziovinonobile.it