This morning we began picking our Merlot grapes in Scansano. And this marks the beginning of the 2016 harvest.
The vintage is looking good but it’s not easy to say what the final outcome will be because, among other things, the weather has been everything but normal this year.
In Montalcino, following a mild and dry winter, it rained a lot, intermittently (including yesterday). And the rain was needed. And a plenty of dry wind kept the air healthy. A lot of water but few insects and limited vine disease. Warm days and cool evenings that were often very cold, even in August. Diurnal shifts in August that ranged from 13° C. at night to 30° C. by midday. We’d never seen anything like that before. Oxymorons, incompatible things that have never happened before.
What effect will this have on Sangiovese?
Healthy, thick, semi-crunchy berries with richly colored skins. Most have already become dark and that’s a sign of great potential. We’ll probably begin picking them within one or two weeks.
In Scansano the weather has been similar but with one important difference: It hasn’t rained for three months. Just a few drops last week and last night that happened to fall while I was there.
But it was practically freezing! The woods are impressive, almost totally dry. But the underbrush, the vines, and the grass along the roads are green. It’s all because of this bizarre weather!
The grapes are beautiful. Not so plentiful but beautiful. They are semi-crunchy in Scansano as well and they are nearly all brown and have healthy sugar levels, not because of concentration but because of healthy ripening. Will they have a lot of polyphenols? We’ll see. Tomorrow we will be picking Merlot, then Ciliegiolo, and then the white grapes, which, strangely, are behind the red French varieties this year, with the red grapes ripening earlier than usual.
By the end of the week, I’ll be able to share the early analytic data.
Stefano Cinelli Colombini