Nailed! The 2010 Piedmont harvest summary & news from elsewhere in Italia
Author: David Berry Green
As I write, the last of the Nebbiolo is being harvested, notably by Mario Fontana (Cascina Fontana) and Davide Rosso (Giovanni Rosso). This year I struggled up the hill to talk to Ferdinando Principiano in his vertical Barolo Ravera vineyard, Luca Roagna in the gem of a Barbaresco site: Montefico, ‘newboy’ Pier Bovone at Cornarea picking his Roero Nebbiolo, Chiara Boschis – first off the blocks as ever – as she harvested Cannubi, and Maria Teresa of Cantina Mascarello Bartolo at Torriglione. I arrived 5 minutes too late to catch the Cascina delle Rose team harvesting their Tre Stelle vineyard (all five rows of it) but Italo seemed happy enough!
So here in the Langhe it’s been a nail-biting, rollercoaster vintage that got off to a stuttering start thanks to a deep extended winter, only to be battered (in parts) by May hail, a tricky flowering for the less auspicious sites, a steaming hot July but then a cool, grey and damp August. A slightly anonymous September if blessed with cool nights that inevitably led to a late-ish harvest from mid-October; the first for many a year to take place among the nebia (fog).
Early on I had sent up flares forewarning a good truffle harvest, and so it has: €25/gram for white Alba truffles I’m told, but it looks as if the grapes have fared well too. Nature played its part in reducing the yield early on (poor flowering and hail) leading to loose clean bunches with thick purply blue skins. There’s perhaps more pulp and less acid than 2009 due to the intermittent rain throughout the year; especially for those who over-green harvested (giving swollen bunches). Comparisons: 2006 and 2001 seem to be favourites (they would say that, you cry!)
And what of elsewhere you ask? Roberto Stucchi Prinetti of Badia a Coltibuono, our new Chianti Classicio supplier, sums it up as “quantita bassa, qualita eccellente” (low quantity, high quality) characterised by a small bunch forming wet spring (which his organic viticulture withstood well), a hot July, cool August and a variable September with fresh nights (capturing Sangiovese’s fine aromatics); harvest took place over a month finishing on the 8th.
Further down the Tuscan coast on the Maremma, Lorenzo Zonin at Podere San Cristoforo, another new face on the Berrys’ list, was awoken in September not by beckoning storms but by galloping horses, startled by wild boar, he reckons. His sunny Sangiovese escaped the wet by being 10 minutes from the beach, lucky things. He likens the wines to more structured 2008, rather than to the prim 2009s.
Aldo Cifola at Fattoria La Moncesca of the Marche talks of a “qualita elevatissima!” but then he’s still yet to harvest his excellent ‘Mirum’ Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva, even if the Chardonnay and Merlot’s been picked.
The news from Friuli, courtesy of Alvaro Pecorari at Lis Neris, is that summer was wetter than normal leading to more acidity and less alcohol (DBG: hurray!) among his Pinot Grigio, to give an earlier drinking style.
Next door, Marinella Camerani at Corte Sant’Alda, producer of fine Valpolicella, reports a difficult cool vintage, marked by a summer short on sun, and damp too. The wines are also looking high in acidity and low in alcohol.
I’m heading down to Campania first week of November in search of the holy grail of the south: Aglianico, so watch this space!
We had a short break in Alba and Monforte d’Alba at the beginning of October this year and were thrilled to see the harvesting of the grapes and in the case of the Marchesi di Barolo, the tipping of the harvest into a special ‘grape squasher’ in the floor of their courtyard. Perhaps you can educate us and let us know the actual name of this process and machine!
We arrived and spent a couple of nights in Alba for the opening of the white truffle fair which we knew was on but were unaware that it was the opening weekend and did not know what to expect…….and what an experience! White truffles, hundreds of them which you could smell from outside the building!
We soon found the ‘Vincafe’ where we were able to taste some of the local wines by the glass. We are learning and so this seemed an appropriate spot to spend the whole evening…we enjoyed particularly a Barolo from Massolino and later a Barolo from Parusso.
From Alba we found a lovely hotel ‘Felicin’ in Monforte d’Alba where we based ourselves for another 3 nights (i’m sure you know it). A beautiful 20Km walk through the vinyards turning beautiful shades of pink, orange and Fiery red took us past the houses of Massolino and Parusso amongst many others which was so utterly fabulous, to see the actual vines from which these wines are produced.
Hotel Felicin is owned by a lovely couple and the husband Nino who cooks for the restaurant, suggested we try a number of local wines from lesser known producers. We very much enjoyed the white Chardonnay from Rizzi 2009, it was unlike any other chardonnay, soft and really smooth and a Nebbiolo Tenuta Rocca 2007 which was full of flavour and seemed balanced with the tannins.
We are so interested in learning about wine, particularly from this region that soon after our return I looked up Berry Bros & Rudd to see about furthering this interest. There is a wine tasting very soon with wines from this region (which I think you will be hosting?) but sadly all the tickets have been snapped up. Nevertheless, I booked the champagne tasting for my husbands birthday and will look out for another similar event next year for wines from Piedmonte.
Hi Lucy – sorry for not replying sooner but I’ve been ‘on the road’. You certainly picked the right year for truffles! I must confess to have eaten a couple (of hundred!) myself; in fact one of my friends gave me a box last night, inside of which were 4 eggs & 1 white truffle…you can imagine what my fried egg tasted of this morning!
The machine you refer to is I think a ‘diraspatore’, as in a stalk removal. Although you speak of an ‘grape squasher’, which might explain Marchesi di Barolo’s wines (scusi!)
I’m sorry that you were unable to book a ticket for my latest event, but in the meantime here’s a couple of new, top flight wines/producers you should really try (given your recent experience): Cascina Fontana (Langhe Nebbiolo & Barolo) & Cascina delle Rose (Barbaresco).
Hi! Great post! 🙂