Yesterday, my friend Leonardo Raspini, vineyard manager at the Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, sent me the photo above. The grapes in the photo are from the estate’s famed Masseto vineyard.
As one of the most manicured growing sites in the world (according to WineSearcher, the average retail price for the 2009 [current] vintage is $517 but if you look around, you can find a bottle for around $350), Masseto is a benchmark for any vintage. And because Merlot is always picked before Sangiovese, it gives a good indication of the harvest outlook.
Here’s what he had to say…
“The grapes you see in the photo belong the central part of the vineyeard, where the clays are abundant [in the subsoil], giving the Merlot bunches a particular shape and quality.”
“The harvest began on September 9 and it’s moving ahead well, with a 10-15 day delay [with respect to recent vintages], which originated during budding and flowering.”
“Ripening is ideal thanks to a sunny but cool climate. Yesterday, we were harvesting in the high part of [the] Masseto [vineyard] and the grapes couldn’t be in better shape.”
And earlier this week, my super good friend Laura at Il Palazzone (Montalcino) posted this excellent harvest update, including predictions for the vintage and comparisons, by some leading experts, to 1979.
Up in the Veneto, my friend and client Luca Ferraro began picking his Glera grapes for Prosecco on Saturday.
He reports — with his usual candor — that unexpected rainfall is “cause for concern.”
Tracie P and I are keeping our fingers crossed for them.
In the Castelli di Jesi in central Italy, our friends and clients Alessandro Fenino and Silvia Loschi’s Verdicchio harvest is in full swing.
But what he’s really got us thinking about (and craving for) today is his mother’s eggplant parmigiana.
“My harvest exile in the cellar continues,” writes Gianni, who, like all winemakers during this period of the year, literally lives at the winery without being able to return home. “I’m beginning to miss my bed and the comforts of home. But I will stoically carry on.”
“There are two things that give me the strength not to give up: Negroamaro grapes worth shouting about (a great vintage!) and my mother’s eggplant parmigiana.”
All in all, Italian grape growers are hoping for a great vintage this year, despite some inclement weather that’s affecting northern and central Italy.
I’ll be in the Veneto in a few weeks and will report back then. And I’ll also be in Montalcino, where they should be gearing up for the Brunello harvest.
L’shanah tovah, everyone. I’ll see you in a few days. May your fast be easy and may your new year be sweet and filled with joy and health…