Cotarella: “a harvest of ancient flavors” & dispatches from Vulture, Salento & Prosecco Country

dawn salento sunrise puglia

Above: Sunrise over the Salento Peninsula. Photo taken this morning by grape grower and winemaker Gianni Cantele.

“This weather has ancient flavors,” said famed Italian enologist Riccardo Cotarella (current president of the Association of Italian Enologists and Enotechnicians) in an interview with the Italian news agency ANSA.

“Like 30 or 40 years ago,” he added, there is “less heat” and there are “strong temperature variations” between day and night. “It can’t be but good for the vineyards. Now we need to watch the clouds and the sky. Hopefully, it won’t rain in coming days and it will be a perfect vintage.”

The interview was reported by Corriere della Sera wine writer Luciano Ferraro on the newspaper’s wine blog today (here’s a link to the ANSA English-language post; it doesn’t include the quote cited by Luciano).

Luciano’s post — his blog is a must-read for Italian wine trade observers — also includes quotes from grape growers and winemakers across Italy (Arianna Occhipinti among them). Although vintage forecasts can be a tight-rope act where wineries must balance marketing and realism, most are predicting a good-to-excellent harvest for 2013.

Harvest is coming later this year because of the cold temperatures and excessive rain of the spring. Those conditions delayed the vegetative process.

In Tuscany, some have predicted that harvest will come as late as October. And at least one, my friend Alessandro Bindocci at the Tenuta il Poggione, has compared the vintage to 1979.

My good friend Laura Gray also posts on weather conditions in Montalcino for the Il Palazzone blog. Check out this interesting comparison of rainfall in the 2012/13 vintages (prepared by the Biondi Santi winery).

The Cantele family, my friends and client, is enjoying classic harvest conditions in Puglia. Grape grower and winemaker Gianni Cantele even had time for a bike ride yesterday. “I have the best job in the world!” he writes.

My friend and client Luca Ferraro, who grows grapes and makes wine in Asolo (Prosecco DOCG), is anxious about forecasts of rain and hail.

“Welcome back from vacation!” he wrote today on his Facebook.

aglianico veraison

Above: Aglianico grapes in Vulture. Photo from last week.

Lastly, here’s a dispatch from my good friend Filena Ruppi who writes from the foothills of Mt. Vulture in Basilicata. She and her husband, winemaker Donato d’Angelo, don’t have a blog but the landing page of their website has a really cool slide show that gives you an idea of the growing conditions there. I love their wines.

    We are experiencing relatively warm temperatures as well as the providential rains of August: after the rain, a gentle north wind always blows. It’s ideal for Aglianico because the grape bunches are very closed and dense and otherwise, rain could bring attacks of rot.

    Some zones have been struck by hail but as you know, hail always strikes like “leopard spots” and this year we’ve emerged unscathed.

    There’s every reason to predict a good vintage but remember: we still have two months to go before harvest begins.

    Fingers crossed!

I’ll continue to digest and post harvest reports as they come in. Hold on to your seats!

And in the meantime, please check out Alfonso’s excellent post on the “social hierarchy” of grape varieties in Italy.

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