A late harvest season in beautiful weather ensures an elegant fruity flavor
The Alto Adige 2021 vintage is characterized by a late harvest season in consistently fair weather. The grapes were able to mature to the ideal point and, thanks to a great difference in temperature between day and night, to develop concentrated flavors, particularly in white grape varieties.
The key to impressive wines is not only the work in the vineyard and the cellar, but also the weather, which was mostly favorable in 2021. While the vines started to sprout at roughly the same time as the previous year, cooler temperatures in spring slowed the process down somewhat. “If you compare soil temperatures across 20 years, they were coolest in April 2021,” explains Hansjörg Hafner, head of the wine growing division at the local consulting center for fruit and wine growing (Centro di Consulenza per la fruttiviticoltura).
Late maturity, hardly any frost, but challenging precipitation
The cool temperatures and the resulting delay in vegetation of 10–14 days turned out to be a blessing: frost damage was limited to a few individual cases. There was no way for the delay in vegetation to catch up again as the season progressed, even though June 2021 was the third-hottest on record at the consulting center.
The summer posed a real challenge for the wine growers, however. June was very dry throughout. “The missing water came back with a vengeance in July,” says Hansjörg Hafner – in the form of heavy thunderstorms. There were also several hailstorms, the heaviest on July 13, when a storm front moved across the Bassa Atesina region in the south of Alto Adige and the Isarco valley all the way to the Pustertal valley in the northeast. Around Cortaccia/Kurtatsch, the hailstorm caused a great deal of damage.
Fair weather in the fall ensures optimum grape quality
A long streak of fair weather in late summer and in the fall created ideal conditions for maturing, particularly for the white and late-maturing red grape varieties. “The grapes picked were very healthy and of high quality throughout,” says Hafner.
In terms of quantity, the harvest yield was comparable to the one of 2020. Only in the Bolzano/Bozen area and the Isarco valley were the harvest yields a little higher; in the lowlands, they were about five percent lower due to the hailstorms. The only notable exception among the grape varieties is the Schiava (Vernatsch), for which a harvest yield was reported that was clearly below average.
Wines with great potential
“2021 is showing all the signs of becoming an outstanding vintage for Alto Adige white wines,” says Andreas Kofler, President of the Consorzio Alto Adige Wines. The conditions were practically perfect in all of Alto Adige, the grapes were top quality, and the acidity ideal, making the white wines fruity, fresh, refreshingly tart, and elegant. The red wines definitely require some differentiation. “Depending on the variety and area or region, they may be called anything from very good to average,” explains Kofler. “At any rate, it will be exciting to see how the 2021 vintages will develop over the next few years – the wines seem to have great potential.”