Spampanamento & yield reduction : Harvest 2014 update

by Laura Gray on September 18, 2014


There’s not been much time to blog this last month or so. Montalcino has been riding out the most recent Brunello “scandal” which, in spite of the lure of eye-catching headlines seems actually to have been a huge triumph for the DOCG system of controls that are in place to protect the consumers. Billed as the “largest agricultural fraud ever attempted” and involving 180.000 liters of counterfeited Brunello, it was foiled before any wine hit the shelves. For more details see here and here.

The fallenBut above all, we are busy trying to second-guess the challenges of 2014, a vintage which is already being described as one of the most difficult vintages of the last half century. Marco agrees with the late great Piero Talenti who apparently said: “There is no such thing as a bad vintage. We just make less wine” (more on this here). This is one of those years where the canopy management and correct husbandry in the vineyard will make all the difference.

After the trials of July the problem we are now facing is ripening. The grapes are fat with water but low on sugars and acidity after an unusually cool August. What we need now is dry wind and diurnal heat but every three or four days, just when our optimism surfaces, it rains.

Vineyards mid SeptemberSo off with the leaves in the high-risk procedure known as spampanamento. All the pampani – the vineleaves – have been stripped by hand from the vines to leave the bunches of grapes hanging free. All the vine’s strength now goes to the grapes rather than being appropriated by the leaves. While the four extra staff we have hired for these crucial weeks are stripping leaves one by one, our seasoned full time “Supertuscans” are carefully selecting which bunches to cull. We are lopping off  bunches in the hopes of saving what remains on the vine. This is hard but necessary.

We are watching the skies and crossing our fingers. More soon.

The cellar deck a.k.a. harvest HQ

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