Budbreak 2015: Montalcino terroir in action

by Laura Gray on April 20, 2015

Le Due Porte 18th April Le Due Porte 18th April 2015

Our three vineyards are separated by a total of 15 km (9 miles) and have different elevation, soil composition, vine-age and exposition. These photographs were all taken within ten days of each other. At Le Due Porte, where the cellar is located, the fuzzy nubs of the new leaves were just visible on 8th April whereas at our Castelnuovo dell’Abate vineyards, significantly lower in altitude and south/south west facing the leaves were already in full sfarfallamento on 12th April. I have written about this before (and here) but these tangible examples of terroir always astound me. The debate about officially recognising Montalcino’s subzones continues but for anyone visiting Montalcino at this time of year their existence is easily confirmed just by looking out of your car-window when driving past vineyards.

Budbreak at Le Due Porte, April 8th 2015 Budbreak at Le Due Porte, April 8th 2015

Sfarfallamento April 12th 2015 Vigna del Capa Sfarfallamento April 12th 2015 Vigna del Capa

Across all our vineyards budbreak is later for us than last year. We saw the first buds at Due Porte on 7th April 2015. At Le Due Porte it was 24th March in 2014, 11th April 2013,  22nd March in 2012 and on 1st April in 2011. Of course, there is no actual correlation between budbreak and harvest date; this is just the starting pistol for a long race and it’s anybody’s bet whether 2015 will resemble the tortoise or the hare. However compared to 2014 there are almost double the leaves on the vines. This is probably due to the warm autumn of 2014 which meant that the vines kept their green leaves for a much longer time, allowing them to store good reserves of “sostanze” that have served them well. Spring 2015 has been perfect, showing a gradual increase of temperatures with no real interruptions of cold weather, with the exception of the Easter weekend where temperatures dropped 20°C in 24 hours and, to great surprise, a light dusting of snow appeared on the morning of 7th April. According to our agronomer, Massimo Achilli, it has been years since this happy combination of seasonal temperatures has happened and the vines are looking good and are in great health.

Vigna La Velona, 12th April 2015 Vigna Castelnuovo, 12th April 2015

 Spring has finally made a grand entrance. This week we have had temperatures of in 25°C (77° F) during the day with blue blue skies. Our winter clothes have been relegated to boxes, the irises are peeking out of their purple sheaths and Tuscany is looking good.

Il Palazzone, Montalcino

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