Light decrease in quantity, but the grape quality remains excellent
New York, 13 September 2023 – The Montecucco Wine Consortium is pleased to share crucial information regarding the 2023 growing season in the Montecucco DOC and DOCG areas.
This season has been marked by unusual weather conditions in the region, with abundant rainfall through late June and several heatwaves, particularly in mid-August. “It’s been a variable and unexpected season, impacting several parts of our territory. Despite the challenging season, our producers did a great job, bringing outstanding quality grapes into the cellar. Especially during the ongoing harvest, they are meticulously planning the grape-picking process in multiple stages to meet the specific requirements of single vineyards or plots.’ said Giovan Battista Basile, President of the Montecucco Consortium. Production quantities have varied depending on the production area within the Amiatina designation – including Arcidosso, Campagnatico, Castel del Piano, Cinigiano, Civitella Paganico, Roccalbegna, and Seggiano – as well as factors like exposure and altitude. The challenges and loss of production have been more or less contained. Fortunately, September has started well, with promising forecasts indicating a return to seasonal temperature averages. This will secure an optimal thermal range between daytime and nighttime, guaranteeing perfect phenolic ripening and the development of the typical aromatic profiles of Montecucco wines.
“Unfortunately, over the past three years, we’ve seen a consistent decrease in production volumes, approximately a reduction of 25% compared to a typical year,” added Giovan Battista. “The adverse impacts of climate change and the escalating severity of weather conditions are manifesting as an alarming reality. Nonetheless, there exists an opportunity to change the course of the events. As associations of winemakers, we must voice our concerns and prompt the international community to take swift and effective actions.”
“Abundant rainfall was experienced between May and June,” explained Giuliano Guerrini, agronomist at ColleMassari winery in Poggi del Sasso (Cinigiano). ” Despite this, we successfully managed an unusual attack of downy mildew, a pathogen not common in our region, but challenging to control due to the continuous spring rains that restricted vineyard operations. As of now, we anticipate a 20% decrease in yield, but when it comes to grape quality, especially Sangiovese, there are no concerns. This year, the quality remains excellent, enhanced by regular weather conditions starting in late August with normal precipitation and an optimal thermal range between daytime and nighttime.
Marco Innocenti from Peteglia winery in Montenero d’Orcia (Castel del Piano) confirmed this seasonal trend. “In our area, rainfall was lower compared to Poggi del Sasso. Nonetheless, from late April to late June, we had to work under constantly humid conditions. Vermentino grapes were affected more than Sangiovese, which handled the downy mildew better, something we hadn’t seen since 2014. Grape ripening parameters are exceptional, and if September continues as it has, we expect to start harvesting at ‘normal’ times, around mid-September for Vermentino and early October for Sangiovese, reminiscent of the harvest of the 90s. Nevertheless, Vermentino grown in the valley floor may experience losses of up to 30%.”
Giacomo Tonini, technical manager at Tenuta L’Impostino in Civitella Paganico, spoke of “a very good quality harvest”. We’ll need to parcelize the harvest as much as possible, sometimes doing a second pass to relieve the vines of less balanced grapes, ensuring optimal ripening for the more promising ones. In addition to the abundant early-season rainfall, which included some highly intense individual events fortunately not resulting in significant damage to production and plant physiology, and our successful containment of downy mildew through meticulous operational measures, the primary challenge emerged from the mid-August heatwave, particularly affecting hillside vineyards with dominant sun exposure. As a result, we are preparing to commence the harvest of early-ripening varieties such as Merlot in the coming days. In comparison to the 2022 harvest, we expect a production increase of between 20% and 30%, while maintaining excellent quality profiles”
In the Seggiano area, there has been a general decrease in production, which, in some extreme cases, unfortunately reached up to 50%, especially for international grape varieties. “Despite the challenges of the season, we expect very high-quality performance, especially for Sangiovese. We will begin the harvest around mid-September.” concluded Silvio Mendini of Podere Montale.
About the Montecucco Consortium (Consorzio Tutela Vini Montecucco)
Founded in 2000 and representing 68 wine producers, the Montecucco Consortium is committed to the stewardship, protection and promotion of the Montecucco wine denomination. The consortium ensures high quality through a set of formal production guidelines for the entire winemaking process, from cultivation to bottling, including a strict traceability system that allows consumers to know the origin of each wine purchased. The consortium’s ability to provide day in and day out support to local growers, assist in brand promotion and focus on the quality of the end product have earned the organization the trust of numerous leading estates and attracted some of Italy’s most renowned producers. For more information visit consorziomontecucco.it.