The harvesting of wine grapes (Vintage) is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. The weather can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes and bring about various vine diseases.
Every year we ask to the winemakers to send us their comments about the last grape harvest. Now it's the time to share them with you!
DEUMAYEN - MENDOZA & SALTA - ARGENTINA
The estate's owners: Esteban Zombory, Jorge Ramirez and Roberto Timms
It was a wet year, but the low temperatures during the whole period contributed to preserve health.
The spring was very cold and because of that we had a late sprouting of the vine. The production was reduced between 10 and 40% depending on the vineyards (30% in our case, to help the grape to obtain better aireation and less proliferation of Botrytis).
Producers, due to rain forecasts, made great preventive treatments in the vineyards. In high quality vineyards, thanks to the canopy management, irrigation and cooler weather conditions, we obtained very good health in general.
The white wines are fresh, fruity and floral with excellent natural acidity (better than previous vintages). In terms of red wines, the harvest was delayed very much, but we obtained wines of great color, intense and fresh aromas with not only fruitiness but also pure floral and spicy aromas. Good level of tannins, probably less velvety than warmer vintages. Our Malbec has great acidity, which is very important to age the wine not only in the oak barrel but also in the bottle.
In conclusion, it was an atypical vintage for Mendoza. But for producers like us which are focused in high quality, this vintage help us to obtain elegant and fresh wines that can help us to think in great evolution in bottle for years!
ALLEE BLEUE - FRANSCHHOEK - WESTERN CAPE - SOUTH AFRICA
The drought that the country had been going through (who will forget the bush fires that ravished Simonsberg) and the accompanying higher temperatures make our jobs a little bit more interesting. It does bring with it very low disease loads and sound grapes are abundant but the water management via pulse irrigation needs to be on the ball. Also berry sizes were much smaller than the norm, so the resulting wines are much more concentrated and packed with flavour. And this last fact will have a great influence on lifting the overall quality of the 2016 vintage. Even though some of the other areas (mainly dry land) were reporting crop losses of up to 30%, especially on white cultivars, we seemed to have dogged that bullet. Cropping was just a touch lower than normal with some new blocks making up the short fall. And the lower cropping also adds to the concentration and depth of flavour.
Thanks to our grape suppliers (this past year I have done the most farm visits ever because of the demanding season), farm managers, assistants, foremen, my cellar team and farm workers for their utmost dedication, perseverance and hard work. To be here every day and see how everybody does their part, big or small, is truly awe-inspiring and gives you the understanding that making wine is one of the best team sports out there.
Van Zyl du Toit - Winemaker at Allée Bleue Wines (Pty) Ltd
Click here to read more about the Vintage Notes from the estate.
BYRNE VINEYARDS - SOUTH AUSTRALIA
2016 was highlighted as a low yielding, well balanced vintage of excellent quality and consistent with the exceptional 2015 vintage.
It began as a hot, dry season however the summer was mild to moderate which allowed the fruit to mature in a very even fashion.
Beginning early, our first fruit was picked on 15th January with Gewurztraminer and then Riesling before Chardonnay. White grapes ripened to come off early and show signs of fantastic quality with good pH acid balance.
The reds matured nice and evenly with clean fruit flavours and balanced maturity. The dry vintage enjoyed no disease pressure and although it looked like the vintage would be short, the last of the reds took their time to ripen into early April.
Click here to read more about the Vintage Summary Notes and the News from the estate.
TELLURIAN - VICTORIA and HEATHCOTE
Daniel Hopkins brings in the harvest at Tellurian.
The 2016 vintage for Tellurian was early with all fruit picked during the month of February - starting with Shiraz for rose' on the 1st of February and concluding with Mourvedre on the 28th February. We believe the early vintage was due, at least in part to the very dry spring and early summer.
The spring and early summer - December and January were cooler than previous years and this provided good ripening conditions for all varietals.
We undertook significant fruit thinning ( green harvesting ) on Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre to ensure optimum quality.
In the final outcome the yields were close to the optimum level of 2 tonnes per acre and the quality across the board appears to be very good at this stage. The exception is Viognier where yields were lower- but quality looks good for the relatively small volume that we have.
We will bottle Rose, Riesling and Fiano in early June, followed by Marsanne and Viognier - in August and the first of the reds in December.
Report from Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani
The 2015 vintage began with a winter marked by plenty of snow, providing the soil with an excellent supply of water. Combined with mild spring temperatures from February on, this factor brought forward the vegetative cycle, which meant that bud break was earlier than in 2014, and the same can be said for flowering, which began towards the middle of May and was followed by an excellent berry set. The season continued with a series of rainfalls between the end of May and the first ten days of June. From the second half of June throughout the month of July, there was no rain and temperatures stabilized to above-average maximums, as can be seen from the fact that maximum temperatures during July peaked at around 40°C, with averages substantially above 30°C. However, the vineyards were in no way stressed by the heat, thanks to the plentiful water supplies which had accumulated during the early months of the year. The climatic conditions recorded at the beginning of the summer laid the foundations for the ripening of the grapes about ten days earlier than in the previous vintage, but in line with what we could call a “normal” year.
In terms of quantity, production was on average within the norm. This allowed for taking action by means of careful, targeted green harvesting. Particular attention had to be paid this year to the management in the vineyard of the foliage: in view of the abundance of solar radiation, great care had to be taken not to uncover the clusters excessively and cause damage from scorching, especially in vineyards facing south, south-west. Then again, from the point of view of the health of the grapes, the vintage can be recorded as one of the very best of recent years, with no particular protective measures needing to be taken as the climate made a decisive contribution to limiting the development of fungal diseases. The only exceptions were certain areas hit by hailstorms, which fortunately were limited however.
For the white grape varieties, picking began at the end of August for the early-ripening cultivars and the best aspects, and lasted until the middle of September for the later-ripening vines. On picking, the health of the grapes was excellent, as were the very positive analytical data in terms of both the sugars (a mean of 19.3°babo), and the acidity (with pH values of around 3.20) fundamental for achieving appeal and structure. The Dolcetto harvest began around the second week in September. The summer heat had led to more of a reduction in the acidity than in other varieties, while the excellent solar radiation had allowed for a good accumulation of anthocyanins, which should produce soft, deeply-coloured wines. Looking at ripening data for the Barbera grapes, it is easy to see how this variety benefited from the weather this year, and on ripening the data are particularly encouraging and very well-balanced: its genetically high acidity was broken down well by the physiological phenomena, helped by the heat during July and the last part of the summer, when the cooler nights enabled a balance to be reached between the anthocyanins and the tannins, as well as a good sugar content. The Nebbiolo ripened perfectly, though slightly earlier than over the last few years. In particular, climatic conditions were seen in the second part of the summer that allowed for an impressive accumulation of polyphenols. The excellent quality of the tannins emerging on analysis will certainly ensure elegant, long-lasting wines with good structure. As far as colouring substances (anthocyanins) are concerned, nebbiolo is renowned not to be a great accumulator, particularly in hot vintages, but the good quantity and quality of tannins should guarantee stability in terms of colour intensity too. The sugar content settled at average potential values of around 14–14.5% vol., while the acidity is perfect for nebbiolo (6.5 g/l). With the ripening data at hand, the great balance that clearly emerges in the technical parameters goes well beyond the numbers, promising big wines.
In general, considering the great balance shown in the ripening data we can say without any shadow of doubt that all the conditions are in place for a truly great vintage: one to remember, like few others in history.
CAVALCHINA - TORRE D'ORTI - LA PRENDINA - VENETO
Vintage: A hot and dry vintage, moderate acidity with medium to high sugar levels and quantity just below the average
The 2014/15 winter was characterized by higher temperatures on average than usual and a relative mildness with few cold spells. In fact, at low altitude, the snow made only rare appearances. In addition, the rainfall has been below average. Therefore the winter was less cold and less rainy/snowy than average.
The general idea is that you were always looking forward to a winter that is never arrived, despite some short cold period, but without excess. (In total, there have been 18 cyclonic configurations against 43 the previous winter, 41 of high dynamic pressure, present both on the ground and height, against the 23 of the previous winter that produced generally beautiful days, often less cold than usual. Finally, 32 mixed days with anticyclone to the ground and depression in height or vice versa, the latter one associated with variable time or moderate. )
The spring was overall mild, with some periods of good weather due to high pressure and temperature values almost everywhere were above the average
In short, the spring was more constant and warmer than normal (long periods without rainfall in March and in April), however although remaining relatively mild between April and May, there was variability and changeability on occasion.
There were 27 days of high pressure (spring initially very nice, mild and constant for the persistent anticyclone dynamic). There were 24 days of bad or variable weather in part, with low dynamic pressure (ie an average value below than that average seasonal), ie approximately 18/20% less than the average spring.
The mixed days were 39 (with anticyclone to the ground and depression in height or vice versa, the latter one associated with variable weather or sometimes slightly changing in the mountains.)
With similar conditions the vine has been able to enjoy favorable conditions both for the development, although with a reduced water supply.
So we came to the summer, after a June characterized by two short heat waves in the first half, a middle period that was very changable and temperatures sometimes below the average in the second half of the month. Already from the first week of July the anticyclone from north African began to present itself, making what was to be a constant until the end of August: that is a hot weather and drought.
Obviously in such conditions of temperature and drought only a careful water supply has allowed us to reach the pick of optimal ripeness. Much easier was the battle with the parasites with a drastic reduction of operations compared to 2014.
The introduction of the fight against the “tignoletta” via sexual confusion has also enabled us to avoid its insecticidal treatments. We could not choose better year to start converting Torre d’Orti to organic vineyards, which offers excellent results without problems.
September fortunately recorded the passage of weak Atlantic perturbations with modest water supply but significant reduction of temperatures, much to the advantage of a considerable night-day temperature range which further contributed to a perfect and complete maturation.
The harvest began on August 17 with the early varieties and of course the great heat of the previous months had increased the sugars and reduced the acid component made this a wonderful harvest. The pH is the standard and this gives us hope for the development and longevity of 2015 wines.
The red grapes have fully enjoyed the favourable September condition and they ripened presenting a thick skin and with the right acids/sugar balance that allowed for long and regular macerations. Thus providing rich, robust wines with a stable colour.
The same thing can be said for white late picked grapes that have been able to exploit this favourable weather and gave more fragrant wines, elegant and above all a big flavour in the mouth. The harvest ended on October 8.
Certainly we can say that this vintage has touched excellence and there are great expectations for the grapes that are being dried.
From the quantitative point of view the total harvest resulted in slightly lower than the average even though the production was very heterogeneous, a phenomenon explained by the different ability of each vineyard to withstand drought.
CANEVEL - VALDOBBIADENE - VENETO
Conditions in 2015 were favourable. A cold winter and temperate spring facilitated budding and the following blossoming was done under dry weather which also favoured the setting.
The summer was hot, notably July, and the vines suffered from a lack of water as well as the heat.
Whilst rain saved young vines and restored older ones in Valdobbiadene and Solighetto the vineyards of Refrontolo needed irrigation.
In August the first rains arrived and grapes started to veraison. Thanks to the absence of hails the grapes were all healthy.
The harvest started on 4th September with the Chardonnay in the Refrontolo vineyards. Then on the 6th in Conegliano with Glera followed by San Pietro di Barbozza and Valdobbiadene. By 2st we were harvesting the Marzemino for the rose sparkling ending on the 26th September in Solighetto.
We harvested healthy grapes that had an excellent structure and good balance. A great year.
MEDICI - EMILIA ROMAGNA
Generally speaking, 2015 vintage, in the area where our vineyards are located, was characterized by a very hot summer, with temperatures near or higher than 40 °C between July and August.
Winter had standard temperatures and high rainfall, essential for the production of a water reserve in the subsoil, followed by a mild spring with the growing of sprouts and therefore an early blooming.
Then, as already anticipate, summer was hot and droughty, actually for Reggio Emilia area was one of the hottest summer in this century.
These conditions managed to prevent the main diseases for the vines, for this reason the grape has remained healthy until the harvest. On the other hand we had to compensate for the water stress with support irrigation.
The harvest began on 28th of August with Malvasia, for the red grapes we started on September 2nd with Ancellotta and on 10th with the Lambrusco grapes. The harvest was completed on the 8th of October.
A good weather in September allowed to keep harvesting without any interruption as ideally planned.
In terms of quantity, there was a 10% general increase in production, both for Lambrusco and Ancellotta, in relation to the 2014 harvest (which has been on average an year with a significant low production, therefore we are now back to the normal production level).
The quality of grapes was good, with a slightly decrease of acidity, compared to the previous year. We can estimate to produce wine (in particular for Lambrusco) with a good aromatic intensity, structure and alcoholic content.
In the province of Reggio Emilia, and throughout the area of Lambrusco, conditions were similar. In general, there is an estimated 7-8% increase for Lambrusco and a 4-5% decrease for Ancellotta compared with the 2014 harvest.
CASALE MARCHESE - LAZIO
See what the Casale Marchese oenologist said about the 2015 vintage at www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5hFnQfzXXM
In the area of Frascati, the season started in early April, with a slight delay compared to the average seen in recent years. This is partly explained by the soils heating up slowly due to the reduced levels of sunshine and to their high water content. In fact, the vine growing season started with the water reserves in good condition, because of the consistent rainfalls that occurred in the months preceding the budding. The so-called "charging process" is, in fact, a phenomenon to be followed very closely because it is essential to ensure the water supply of the vine during the following growing season. In our area, this process took place early and resulted above average, which is why the restoration of water supplies allowed a regular and generous budding.
In early June we observed a first heat wave, caused by the influx of subtropical air and intense sunshine, that compensated for the initial phenological delay. For the rest of the month we had rain and heavy thunderstorms, in some areas daily. Yet, the vines remained in perfect health thanks to the increasing competence in the selection of phyto-pharmaceuticals and especially in the timing of treatments.
Despite the large amount of water that rained down in a short time, there still were slightly to moderately less total rainfalls with respect to the average of the same period in 1993-2014. Throughout the month of July and for the first half of August we observed a succession of anticyclones that have determined temperatures above 30° C, hot African winds and only slight fluctuations in temperature between day and night, since even the nights were very hot.
However this did not arise particular concern among winegrowers, thanks to the generous water supply of winter and spring but also to the well known and abundant water availability characterizing volcanic soils, especially in the Castelli Romani area. In fact, despite the great heat, our vines did not suffer stress from the lack of water.
At some point we feared that the excessive heat could have stopped the maturation as a consequence to the closure of the stomata, as well as block the respiration and photosynthesis, as it happened for the 2003 vintage in the more hilly areas. Fortunately, in mid-August, when veraison was concluded, we had some rain that led to lower maximum temperatures and ensured a good temperature range, essential for the synthesis of aromatic properties in white grapes and for the phenolic synthesis in red grapes. In addition, the low night temperatures ensured that the acidity, already significantly low due to the hot July and August months, did not decrease further.
We are certainly facing a great vintage (undoubtedly better compared to the previous vintage), both in terms of quality and quantity, which we estimate in our area to be + 15% compared to 2014.
DOMAINE DE SAINT ENNEMOND - BEAUJOLAIS - BURGUNDY
The summer of 2015 was exceptional and with high temperatures until the end of August, which allowed a longer growing season, along with perfect budding at the start of June.
The grapes were of perfect quality with maximum ripeness achieved. The 2015 harvest was small in quantity but of exceptional quality.
Picking commenced on the 26th August. The 2015 vintage has produced an intensity of colour, tannins are silky and the wines have plenty of structure and are well balanced. Aromas are focused on the darker fruits (blackberry) which explode on the nose and palate. The wines are capable of ageing whilst maintaning a good freshness.
In our memory, we do not remember such a high quality vintage. The older generation of Beaujolais winemakers say that the 1947 vintage resembles 2015.
FRANCOIS MILLET - SANCERRE - LOIRE VALLEY
We had an early budbreaking, with an high temperature period during April. The perfect time to start all the soil work like ploghing for example.
Then, May was really wet and cold with more than 150 mm of rain fall during the month. Vines growed slowly, and we had to take care of mildew.
The summer, as everywhere in France was hot and hot, and really thirst. Some of the vineshad some problems with capting the water by the shoots.
We were afraid of a really sunny climate for the wine, with high level of alcohol, but the climate of September was more "normal" with rainy period and sunny moment.
So we have begun to harvest on the 10th of September, with a beautiful balance between acidity and alcohol. All the fragrances are there today in the wine, powerful and precise aromas of peach, pear, exotic and citrus fruit.
In fact, we can say that this vintage was difficult in the vine with lots of things to do, but it gives a really nice vintage in Sancerre White, Rose and Red.
Hope to cheer with you at the beginning of 2016, with these beautiful wines!!
DOMAINE JEAN FERY ET FILS - GEVREY CHAMBERTIN - BURGUNDY
From the beginning of the season, the harvest promised to be early, the vines having flowered early June. The exceptional sunshine of June and July, with heatwave temperatures, caused us to worry that the vegetative growth would stagnate and that the fruit would cease to mature.
Happily, Mother Nature, has been kind once again. The sparse rains of August were beneficial to the vines and to the grapes. The heat that returned at the end of August accelerated the maturation process and we began picking on the 1st September.
All of our parcels were perfectly ripe almost at the same time, and we had to pick very quickly. We finished the harvest on the 7th September.
The grapes were perfectly healthy with excellent aromatic expression and a balance of sugar/acidity that we would like to see every vintage. Certain people are already comparing this vintage to 2005. It is still too early for confirmation, but the first tastings after the alcoholic fermentation are very promising. We will refine our judgment in a few months after the malo-lactic fermentation.
The only negative note is regarding quantity, once more slightly below average, especially in the Côte de Nuits. But we shouldn’t be too difficult, vintages such as this one are rare, and we must recognise how to savour pleasure and appreciate the rewards of year long efforts.