by Paolo Repetto / 14 September 2016

2016 harvest: Poderi Aldo Conterno, Roberto Voerzio, Giuseppe Mascarello,Castello Verduno, Enrico Rivetto, Paolo Scavino, Bruno Giacosa, Bruno Rocca

In Langhe area the forecast about the harvest season, which has already started for Dolcetto and the white varieties, is optimistic. I have chatted with some great producers who show optimism, hoping the weather will be still good in next weeks.
Nebbiolo grapes, for Barolo and Barbaresco, are likely to be picked in a few weeks, so... fingers crossed!  

"After a challenging spring, summer weather has been favourable" states Giacomo Conterno, "Rain was scarce in July and August, but thanks to the mild temperature vines have not suffered about that".

Have hailstorms damaged the harvest?
"Luckly grapes haven’t been damaged. Some single vineyards are protected with specific nets".

Are you optimistic about harvest 2016?
"Yes, I am. And, in addition, last warm days have sensibly anticipated the harvest. Besides, the temperature range we have experienced in these weeks have given the grapes more aromatic complexity. We needn’t to hurry, we are perfectly able to judge the right ripeness of grapes.

At Roberto Voerzio's estate in La Morra the picking of the Nebbiolo for Barolo starts today (September 19th): "An outstanding vintage, so different from the 2015, which we could name as a  'dry vintage'" says Roberto "Looking to the past. 2016 vintage reminds me 2004 or  2000. Rain has occurred in the right moments so the crop is around 10% bigger than last vintage.
Nebbiolo grapes are wonderful, according to the analysys: they have all more than 240 g in sugar, acidity between 6.4 and 6.8, and pH 3.10 – 3.16. It could not be better".

Nature has been favourable this vintage too.
"But we need to thank the hard job we have done in the vineyards, which always allows us to have outstanding grapes. This year, also a particular thanks ,to nets which prevented dangerous hailstorms to damage the fruits. I use them even in the Dolcetto vineyards".

Where are you picking today?
"We started in Rocche dell'Annunziata Cru, the last will be La Serra as usual".

How do you expect harvest 2016 for your wines?
"In 2016, the growing season of Nebbiolo started with late budding and flowering, which yet led to a ready fruit set. Hailstorms have been the only flaw of this good vintage. Some vineyards in the area have been damaged seriously.

Have hailstorms damaged your grapes? Do you use, or suppose to, specific protective nets?
"On July 26th a big hailstorm slightly damaged some rows in Castiglione Falletto. Though we need to admit our Cru Monprivato has always been the 'lucky' one: hailstorms touched it just few times in the last 30 years. Consequently we have never used specific nets and are not planning to in the next years. We will just see about that".

When Nebbiolo harvest is planned to start? How do you decide when “it’s time“?

"Nebbiolo harvest will be aproximatly in the first two weeks of October. Following future developments of the situation, we shall see. We base the decision on technologic ripening as well as on the sensory analysys of the skins and the seeds".

Mario Adrion of Castello di Verduno tells that "at the moment the vintage is about to be fantastic like the last one! The Dolcetto grapes have been already picked and are wonderful. After these beneficial rains, it is the turn of Barbera and Pelaverga.
Righy now Nebbiolos are fantastic and going to get better as they can 'drink from these positive rains', especially in the sunniest slopes.The rain wich fell yesterday (September 15th) and the one which is likely to fall today will help to balance the grapes, that are now too rich in sugar and acidity. A natural dilution may benefit them.
The Nebbiolo grapes for Barbaresco is ahead in the ripening process than those in Verduno, both for the natural microclimate differences and both for the light hailstomrs, which hit the Verduno area, getting slower the maturation of grapes.

And..July hailstorms?
"Barbaresco hasn’t been touched by the hail, luckly grapes are perfect. I am proud to affirm that the specific anti-hail cannons are very useful: I have not been experiencing any damage from hail for 17 years.
Concerning Barolo, the storm in late July hit strongly the central area of the appellation, arrived in Verduno once it had losen its strenght, thanks to this the damage was minimal, without affecting the grapes' health and integrity. Sunny days after that have dried the affected berries, that consequently have been removed. The main cause has been a slowdown in the ripening process because of damaged leave, which hardly underwent the photosyntesis.
We do not use anti-hail nets and it is not our intention to adopt, for the simple reason we are protected by specific cannons in Barbaresco and by the natural shape of the hills in Verduno (a magical amphitheatre)".

When do you expect to harvest?
"We will start at the end of the next week in Barbaresco, picking the grapes used fort he production of our Langhe Nebbiolo. However, once checked the phenolic ripeness, the picking of the Barbaresco will not be far behind. In Verduno, we will occur ten days later minimum.
We like balanced and fresh wines, we never look for an heavy extraction. Once we have a good phoenolic ripeness I focus on mantaining a good acidity, rather than a great quantity of sugar".

"We are very satisfied with the quality of the vintage, even though it is too early to definitely predict it"  Elisa Scavino starts off, "last week (September 5th-9th) we harvested Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Viognier followed them a few days later. Grapes were intact and at a good ripening stage.
Next week is the turn of Dolcetto in Bricco Ambrogio in Roddi. Vines are 66 years old, whose ripening occurs gradually without sudden collapse in acidity, allowing a delayed harvest.
We have started sampling the Nebbiolo grapes. Our vineyards are set in the townships of Castiglione Falletto (in the Crus Fiasco, Vignolo, Solanotto, Pernanno, Rocche di Castiglione, Rocche Moriondino, Altenasso), Barolo (Cannubi, Vignane, Albarella, Terlo), La Morra (Rocche dell’Annunziata, Annunziata, Bricco Manescotto), Serralunga d’Alba (Prapò, Cerretta, San Bernardo), Verduno (Monvigliero), Roddi (Bricco Ambrogio), and Novello (Ravera). Each of them has its own soil and microclimate, and therefore a different picking time.
Analysys show promising figures concerning a good sugar content and a steady acidity level in consideration of the average low pH levels".

Have your vines suffered from the hail?
"Loss is restricted to a few vineyards thanks to the specific nets. Starting from next year we are going to cover all our vineyard surface".

When do you expect to start harvesting?
"It is not forthcoming. We will start harvesting the youngest vineyards, as well as those south-facing and set at a lower altitude whose grapes usually ripen early.
As usual we are about to take into account the analytical data, whereas tasting the grapes lead us to decide. We know the story of each vineyard and how its growing season has been. Barbera will be harvested just before the Nebbiolo".

Enrico Scavino points out that "Many say 2016 has been a hot vintage, but I have to disagree. We had a lot of snow and rain in the spring, the water sept in the subsoil creating an important watersource. I have some vineyards facing due south which usually suffer from water stress, whose leaves turn yellow in the hot vintages such as the 2013. This year the leaves have been healty. If the weather keeps good until the beginning of the harvest, we will have an oustanding vintage like the 2015. Perhaps even better".

Enrico expects a high potential such as 2004 was in the past.
"Spring was diffcult to manage due to the high humidity on the leaves, but the cool and sunny summer allowed the grapes to ripen constantly. Those who have well exposed vineyards and have cultivated them properly will be rewarded. Grapes quality is as high as in 2004, whereas the extraction is similar to that of 2006".

Is the weather in these days advantageous?
"The night temperature lowering is good for the Nebbiolo. I suppose this growing season to be long , which will lead great aromatic complexity. I am optimistic“.

Has the harvest already started in your estate?
"We started on September 15th with some Nebbiolo for the Kaskal; I am starting with the Nascetta today (September 20th). I am going to harvest the Nebbiolo for Barolo in 20 days".

Bruna Giacosa is also positive about the forthcoming harvest: "the first impression is positive. Grapes are beautiful and the production is at a right level".

Have your vineyards been damaged by the hail?
"We have not had big problems, we do not use any protection".

Considering your experience, could the 2016 be a vintage for a Riserva?
"Only at the end of the vinification process we will be able to say it".

When are you starting the harvest of Nebbiolo? What do you take into account to decide when to begin it?
"It is going to begin in the first days of October in the Barbaresco zone, and in a week later in the Barolo area. We base on chemical analysis but, above all, on the surveys in the vineyards (it is crucial to taste some bunches). Obviously, the weather will influence the picking time".

Luisa Rocca talks of a stunning vintage: "Wheather has been extremely favourable, in particular for the ripening of Nebbiolo for Barbaresco. Budding was anticipate this year and the harvest seems to be posticipated to some days later. High temperature range is optimal to have a great Nebbiolo wine“

Has the harvest alreay started: "To me, in the first days of October. The decision needs to be taken in the vineyard. Grapes must be soft, with deep red peduncle. Berries should be sweet at taste, while the seeds have to be dessiccated and not bitter. We give more attention to phenolic ripeness rathen than to analytical data".


Paolo Repetto

Founder of Vinifera, since 2005 he works in the international business of fine wines.
In 2017 he founded Italian Wine Asset, the first Italian specialised entity for consulting on buying and selling Vineyards and Wineries.


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