Harvest 2009 “A good but not exceptional vintage” according to “Italy’s most famous and most important enologists”

According to a report published this week by WineNews.it, Italy’s top wine wizards — “Italy’s most famous and most important enologists” — are calling the 2009 harvest “a good but not exceptional vintage in Italy.” Not all agree, however.

Carlo Ferrini: “Positive results for early-ripening grape varieties except for a few problems in the warmest productions zones.” The harvest went “well in Sicily and Piedmont but, depending on weather conditions, it could be a great vintage for less important wines while there could be some problems in obtaining wines with cellar potential.”

Riccardo Cotarella : “This year the coolest zones have an advantage in the production of important wines. Red wins will suffer in extreme climates and we will obtain important wines from Sangiovese and Aglianico where the vines are situated at [sufficient] elevation. For white wines, instead, it is an exceptional season.

Lorenzo Landi: “The significant early harvest that we expected was not as large as we thought. With late-harvest, we will have a lot of problems if it rains. Otherwise, there could be some positive surprises. The white grape varieties fare better. They have been able to maintain their acidity and their freshness and will be superior to those from recent vintages.”

Roberto Cipresso: “The remarkable thing about the 2009 vintage is the gigantism phenomenon in the bunches, which brings with it a slight dilution in the substance of the skins. We will have wines with good structure, pronounced tannins, and good aromas. It seems that for the reds, late harvesting will be better in this vintage, which reminds me of 1998.”

Leonardo Valenti, professor, Department of Viticulture, University of Milan: “The intense heat has created many problems for the grapes, with drying phenomena as a result. Vines accustomed to an abundance of water during the budding period where stuck with a water deficit in the heat and thus had to be picked earlier.”

According to a press release issued by the Brunello producers association, the first bunches of Sangiovese were picked in Montalcino on Tuesday, September 22.

Last week, blogger Wayne Young in northeastern Italy reported that the 2009 harvest “is shaping up to be a great vintage” despite some inclement weather on Sunday, September 13.

    We harvested some Tocai and some Merlot before the weather turned bad Last Sunday. Everything looks great.

    Rain is actually welcomed at this point because it had been SO DRY that maturation wasn’t advancing as quickly as it should have been considering the great weather. The vines were a little stressed from lack of water, and when vines stress, they go into a “survival mode” where available energy is diverted from maturation and the grapes are actually used as a source of energy themselves. Under severe conditions, the vine can use the grapes as a source of water, causing the berries to shrink…

    2009 is still shaping up to be a great vintage. This rain is just what the doctor ordered. For the later whites and the rest of the reds to come in perfectly, the rain will have to stop and we’ll need just a little more warmth and sun.

Craig Camp: Dog (liani) Gone Good, Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani

Craig Camp authors the popular wine blog Wine Camp, a points-free zone.

I’m trying to remember the first year I visited this estate – 82? 83? In those days Einaudi was ultra-traditional and in the 80’s that meant erratic. While those days are often a bit over romanticized, there is no debate that great wines have always been produced by the Einaudi estate – most of the time. Rustic would have been an over-polite way to describe the old Einaudi winery of the early eighties, but today’s Einaudi wines are produced in a sparkling clean modern winery. While some may debate the plusses and minuses of that, you cannot debate the pleasures of their wonderful dolcetto wines and the fact that the ups-and-downs of previous decades are no more. The Dogliani region of Piemonte is well established as a premier dolcetto region and Einaudi’s are among the very best wines from this region. The 2006 Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani is as brilliant and brightly fruity as you could hope for, but offers a lot more than that. Under the dense black fruit is a hard edge that comes not only from the electric acidity, but from a delicious warm earthiness that makes this wine reach beyond the simple fruity offered by so many of its siblings. Drink this wine up now before it dries out.

Franco Ziliani’s top picks for 2004 Brunello di Montalcino

Last week VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani traveled to London where he tasted 93 bottlings of 2004 Brunello in the London offices of The World of Fine Wine. The tasting was organized by editors Anastasia Edwards, Sara Morely, and Neil Beckett. Nicolas Belfrage MW and Roy Richards were also part of the tasting panel.

The panel tasted 48 wines the first day and 42 the next. “With the quantity of tannins, natural and added,” wrote Franco yesterday at his blog Vino al Vino, “and the rushed, emergency enologic intervention revealed by too many samples, your mouth is literally devastated” by such a massive tasting.

“The level of disappointment was noteworthy,” according to Franco. “There were too many wines that did not even remotely rise to the legendary fame (and prices) of the great Sangiovese of Montalcino.”

The comprehensive results of the tasters’s scores will be published in an upcoming issue of The World of Fine Wine. In Franco’s preview, he reveals that of the 93 wines tasted, he scored only 16 wines in the “very good” and “outstanding” categories, while he scored 18 wines in the “good” category.

Franco’s top wines? “The Greppo Riserva by Franco Biondi Santi ‘triumphed’ in the tasting, with two tasters — Nicolas Belfrage and myself — giving it a shiny 19 out of 20 points,” wrote Franco. High marks were also give to other “classic” producers that “represent solid and certain value and a true guarantee of quality for the consumer”: Giulio Salvioni, Poggio di Sotto, Lisini, Col d’Orcia, Gorelli Le Potazzine, Gianni Brunelli, Piancornello, Caprili, Mastrojanni, Quercecchio, and Ciacci Piccolomini.

Piedmont is first region to take advantage of new CMO reforms

According to a report published this week by WineNews.it, Piedmont will become the first Italian region to take advantage of new Common Market Organization reforms that allow EU members states to utilize winemaking byproducts that were previously destined for mandatory distillation. With a decree signed on September 11, Italian agriculture minister Luca Zaia approved Piedmont’s plan to utilize wine lees and wine must for soil conditioning and for energy production. The ministerial decree extends eligibility not only to winemakers producing between 25 and 100 hectoliters of wine or wine must but also to those producing between 101 and 1,000 hectoliters, provided that they vinify 66% percent of their total crop.

For some background information on CMO reforms for wine, visit this page hosted by the EUBusiness portal.

Agricultural minister Zaia on “zero tolerance” legal limit: “Italian vineyards are under attack”

“Italian vineyards are under attack,” said Italian agricultural minister Luca Zaia with his trademark dramatic flair at the Forum Spumanti d’Italia conference held over the weekend in Valdobbiadene. His bold statement was made in reference to his recently launched campaign to revise Italy’s “zero tolerance” drunk driving laws. Currently, “0.2 grams per liter of blood” is the legal limit, making the consumption of even one glass of wine illegal before driving. In an interview published in Italy’s leading consumer automotive magazine, Quattro Ruote, Zaia recently proposed that it should be raised to 0.5 grams so that drivers will be allowed to have 2 glasses of wine as long as the alcohol content of the wine does not exceed 11%, in other words, as minister Zaia put it, as long as drivers are not consuming “structured” wines. “I am personally committed to sharing a principle of truth with public opinion,” said Zaia. “Wine’s responsibility in automobile accidents is truly residual.”

Minister Zaia also announced that he and possibly foreign minister Franco Frattini will meet in Rome on September 23 with Zaia’s French counterpart “to discuss an axis that we wish to consolidate on the subject of farm and food products.” Agricultural relations between the two countries are good, said Zaia, “but we have no intention of copying their recent provision that reduces production levels of Champagne because they have fallen by 44%. Our sparkling wines are actually growing.”

According to Zaia, the export of Italian sparkling wine grew by 14% in 2008 while the importation of sparkling wine to Italy “diminished remarkably,” in his words. “This means that Italians prefer Spumante [wines] and Prosecco over their French cousin Champagne.”