Storming in Montalcino but harvest completed just in time (thank goodness)


Rain, wind, and storming at Fattoria dei Barbi. Thank goodness that we picked the last bunches yesterday: Today, there is water running between the vineyard rows! Now, with the cellar doors closed and wine “boiling” (fermenting), here are some initial notes on the vintage.

This was yet another one of the umpteenth atypical vintages in Montalcino, the third in the last four years. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the these were “lesser” vintages! 2013, 2014, and 2016 were atypical in the sense that seasonal progression and the ripening of the grapes were different from the norm. In contrast to this, 2015 was a classic vintage, a Brunello aligned with tradition and similar to 2010 and 2012.

In 2016, in both Montalcino and Maremma, we had rains during flowering. They reduced the yield (that’s a good thing) and provoked uneven flowering which, in turn, led to millerandage (i.e., uneven ripening and size of the grapes). And that’s not a good thing. July and August were warm. In Montalcino, it rained during those months but in Maremma, it didn’t. Either way, the evenings were cooler than anyone can remember.

When we attended some wonderful classical music concerts by my friends Guerrini and Costanti in mid-August, our teeth were chattering with temperatures around 13° C.! We had never seen such diurnal shifts. But they helped to create the right conditions for perfect phenolic ripening. But this ripening was also anomalous because usually when this happens (and it’s rare that it does), it happens with overripe grapes that will result in highly alcoholic wines. But this time it didn’t turn out like that. Incredible color, nearly black. When has Sangiovese ever been so dark? What will the wine be like? Who can say at this point? We need to see how it evolves. But one thing I’m certain of: 2016 won’t be just another vintage forgotten among others. It will be something wholly original, absolutely and undeniably unique harvest.

Stefano Cinelli Colombini

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