On not producing Brunello 2014

by Laura Gray on January 21, 2019

As you may already know from my Instagram feed pruning is underway at our Castelnuovo vineyards. This time of year always feels like the pause at the top of a rollercoaster; anticipation and excitement with a healthy twist of stomach-churning trepidation about what will be beyond our control. Pruning is the starting pistol for the vines and marks the beginning of whatever #vintage2019 has in store for us.

What is truly odd is to be uncomfortably perched at the beginning of the year with no new wine on the brink of release. We decided back in October 2014 that we would not produce a 2014 Brunello. Brunello is released after five years so since then 2019 has been casting a long and ominous shadow; a year without wine is no light matter for a winery.

All the normal business of sending out price lists to distributors, samples to journalists or special offers to private clients has been suspended and instead the focus is on how best to eke out the remaining stock of fabulous 2013 Brunello while we await the release of the 2015 vintage in 2020.

We had always believed in the tenet that “there being no such thing as a bad vintage, you just make less wine” (cit. Montalcino icon Piero Talenti) i.e. that hard sacrifice and difficult decisions in the vineyards will always result in a good product for that vintage. Sadly the weather in 2014 put us at Il Palazzone to the test. In spite of quadrupling our labor costs and quartering our yields we found that the quality for our Brunello just was not there. Faced with a potential loss of vintage integrity and having to abandon much of our estate philosophy and principles regarding cellar manipulation  we have opted to sit this one out. Other estates who have made this difficult call are Biondi Santi, Conti Constanti, Poggio Antico, Maté and Salvioni.

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