What was the weather like in Valpolicella in 2016?
As it happened in our estate in Venice mainland, a dry and warm winter has encouraged the vines to sprout earlier than usual. A hard period came in May and June during the flowering phase, because of the heavy rains. The season got stable again in July, with a typical summer weather and tempertaures not above 35°C. These better conditions helped the vines recovering and gathering full energies to face the veraison phase. From the second half of august until the harvest, the weather was stable with a very good temperature fluctuation between day and night, especially on the hills.
Comparing to last year, which was extreme in terms of temperatures, this year we harvested a little later, in line with an average, normal, harvesting period (even though talking about “normal” harvesting period has become harder and harder during the last years).
Our vineyards are all located on the hills, so the grapes require a little more time to reach the best level of ripeness; Corvinone always gets there a little later than the other grape varieties. This year our harvest started in the middle of September, picking up the grapes between 200 and 400 meters on the sea level, and gradually moving towards the vineyards of the Valpolicella Classica, 500 meters and above, in the middle of October.
The grapes features
Thanks to the weather stabilization that occurred in the summer, our Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes reached their ripeness with an excellent sugar content. The remarkable temperature fluctuation between day and night had a great influence on the veraison phase. The berries developed a very good concentration of poliphenols, especially rich in antocians.
How to select grape bunches in Valpolicella
Selecting the best bunches is an essential practice in all of our estates; the Valpolicella has some distinctive traits that are linked to its Amarone wine and this requires an further selection phase. Here the harvest comes in several times. We start with the grapes that can better face the “appassimento” process for our Amarone. The bunches have not only to be perfeclty ripe, but also to be not too compact, to let the fresh air circulate and dry the berries uniformly. Subsequently, we complete the pick up and press the fresh grapes to produce the Valpolicella DOC. This wine will be partly used for the production of the Valpolicella Ripasso DOC.
Expectations on 2016 vintage
July and August made us breath a sigh of relief after the earlier months’ weather fluctuations. The grapes characteristics will certainly give us high quality wines. If structure and alcoholic power were last vintage’s main features, this year will be driven by a greater richness in perfumes. This is due to the temperature difference between day and night that reigned in August and September.
We can smoothly say that 2016 was a very good vintage in Valpolicella. And now, as usual, it is time to roll up our sleeves and make sure the grapes get the best attention in our cellars!