As September comes to an end and most of the grapes have made their way into the cantinas for second picking and pressing, the wine industry starts to buzz, looking to answer the big and ever important question: Will this be a vintage to remember? Assoenologi anticipates the question with a preview of what’s to come every September and we’ve checked in with some of our producers for a first-hand understanding of what we can expect for 2016. About the same as last year (around 5% less): approximately 49 million hectoliters of wine and must. Optimal in all of Italy, with some areas of extreme excellence. All the factors required for an excellent vintage are in place. However, this can only be confirmed after the last grape has been picked. The weather has been good to winemakers throughout harvest season and one can only hope it stays that way. Winter was mild all over Italy, with above-average temperatures and lower-than-average rainfall. Coming in at 289 mm (compared to the seasonal average of 436 mm), this lesser amount did not have a negative effect on the cycle, as the plants had plenty of water left over from fall. Heavier rains in February and March replenished the water reserves and April and May experienced less rain. In general, bud burst took place around mid-March, about 5-10 days earlier than normal. Hail was also recorded in many areas during that period (like in Umbria), which was accompanied by unexpected low temperatures and frost. This reduced potential production, although it did get the growth cycle back on track in terms of timing. Flowering also had to endure several and often violent storms, causing the early fall of the flowers further reducing potential quantity. A rainy June coupled with low temperatures delayed the physiological cycle of the plant, and caused the outbreak of disease and fungal infections (peronospora and oidium). However, winemakers on the whole acted quickly, successfully fighting them off. The end of June finally brought the summer heat, even sweltering in some areas. August was marked by excellent temperatures swings that will be crucial to the quality of this vintage. Overall, this year’s grapes are beautiful and healthy and initial news coming out of the cantinas leave winemakers hopeful for the vintage. Most harvests will be taking place somewhat later than usual, about 5-10 days late.
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