The strangest vintage on record? Harvest 2017 is full of surprises (and it’s only just begun)

I just had to share the following post by my client Stefano Cinelli Colombini owner and winemaker at Fattoria dei Barbi, which includes an estate in Maremma (I translated it yesterday for the winery’s blog).

    The 2017 harvest at Fattoria dei Barbi in Scansano: In the three glasses in the photo above from left, you can see Merlot (1), Ciliegiolo and Alicante (2), and Cabernet (3). The berries have crunchy brown seeds, wild color, and high levels of polyphenols.
    Notice anything strange?
    Nothing at all, except… The grapes in the first two glasses were picked 20 days earlier than usual and the grapes in the last glass were picked 40 days earlier.
    How can the grapes be so ripe?
    Beats me. But they are totally ripe.
    I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.
    But the flavors are great and there is no trace of bell pepper or jam.
    This harvest will make for excellent wines even though, theoretically, none of this should be possible.
    Everything about this year is strange. The woods seem like they’re dying but the vines continue to produce vegetation.

Click here for the complete post, including more observations on the changing climatic conditions in Italy and Stefano’s concerns.

His thoughts were echoed by winemaker Marilena Barbera, who commented (on Stefano’s Facebook version of the post): “I really don’t understand this vintage. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to figure it out.”

Across the internets, I’m seeing Italian winemakers scratching their heads as they try to wrap their minds around the 2017 harvest and the 2017 vegetative cycle in general. There have been so many “extreme weather events” this year: unusually warm temperatures in late winter, late spring frosts, intense summer heatwave…

When a grape grower is picking his Cabernet 40 days earlier than usual (and the grapes are excellent quality, which is nothing to complain about), there’s something really strange going on. But, then again, nothing about 2017 has seemed normal…

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