Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Italian harvest 2005: difficult from north to south'

Published:  23 July, 2008

Overall, 2005 has been a difficult vintage from north to south,' stressed Alberto Antonini, winemaker of the Matura group. The key factor to getting the best out of this vintage was good vineyard management.'

Climatic conditions started off in the norm, then July saw the beginning of a drought in some zones, while in August the temperatures dropped, and the rains prevailed throughout the summer months, making the ripening of the grapes difficult and risky. In general, the grapes are healthy, but yields are down 10-40% in the peninsula.


It was an early harvest this year, and we feared for the ripening of the grapes,' says Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga of Tenuta San Lorenzo in Trentino, who went on to comment on the excellent and unexpected high quality of the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Carmenre - all showing good acidity, firm colour and great aromas, indicating their potential to mature well and age.

For the whites of Friuli it's been a complicated year, with a 30% fall in yields', affirms Gianni Menotti of Villa Russiz. According to Menotti, if the area of production is one of quality, then, even in a more difficult vintage, the results will yield an interesting wine. Fresh, bubbly Prosecco wines benefited from a less vigorous yield characterised by smaller berries with higher concentration. According to Paolo Bissol of Ruggeri, it rained a great deal, though surprisingly the sugar and acidity levels are well balanced, showing good aromatic profile, less quantity and a high quality.

In Veneto, the higher DOCG areas of Soave are showing structure and balanced wines with good acidity and slightly higher yields. The Valpolicella Tedeschi estate is satisfied with the vintage. The structure of the wines is good, especially the Corvinone planted on the higher sloping land, compared to the vines in the flatter areas, which suffered from some rot on the grapes. Hail hit Veneto several times, damaging some areas of production.

Piedmont was hit by torrential rains,' says Vajra, confirming the difficulties but with some interesting results. The key factor was to wait and harvest the grapes when the pips indicated a perfect ripening.' Apparently, the older vines with better exposure and drainage did better than the younger vines.


A rather cold and rainy winter delayed the growth cycle by 15 days in most of Tuscany, followed by rain and cool temperatures in August. We were initially concerned we would have high yields,' said Lamberto Frescobaldi. We ended up with 15% less than normal, and moreover we lost all our Pomino red in a violent hailstorm and will only produce 50% of the white Pomino.' At the Castelgiocondo estate in Montalcino, Frescobaldi will not be making the riserva this year.

According to Renzo Cotarella, MD of Antinori, it was one of the best-ever years for Merlot in the Maremma area of Tuscany', while Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon will need to be selected with care.

Morellino wines fared well, and again, according to Cotarella, Nobile di Montepulciano did exceptionally well, with fresh attractive fruit and balanced acidity.

Umbria suffered symptoms of drought up until the August rains, however, according to Filippo Antonelli of San Marco estate. But the rains were not excessive and were interspersed with sunny periods. Even so, ripening was delayed, and the quantity and quality are just below the usual standard. Both Sangiovese and Sagrantino (still to be harvested) have fared well and seem more concentrated than in 2004.


As this report is being written (17 October), Campania's whites - Falanghina, Greco and Fiano - are being harvested, while the red varieties such as Piedirosso and Aglianico have yet to complete their ripening and be picked. We have had to start harvesting a little earlier than usual because of unstable climatic conditions,' explains Piero Mastroberardino. The grapes are healthy, yields are down by 15% and, in general, it promises to be a satisfactory vintage with some high-quality peaks, especially for those who have adhered to good vineyard management.'

Sicily had a good year, with a normal cycle of growth and weather giving excellent results on Nero d'Avola and Frappato. It's been a problematic year for Etna due to the rains and hail. We don't know what results we'll get from Nerello Mascalese or Carricante,' said Salvo Foti, winemaker for Gulfi and Benanti.

On a more positive note, Piero Cella, winemaker for Contini in Oristano and Cherchi in Sassari, confirms that the harvest in Sardinia has been a good one, with lower yields, promising structured, elegant Cannonau wines, interesting Vernaccia and excellent Cagnulari.