FRESCOBALDI: 2021 HARVEST

Florence, August 2021.  With a late start of only 10 days or so, the 2021 harvest is just about to kick off.   Heavy rainfall marked the 2020-21 winter, which filled groundwater reserves without at all hampering winter pruning operations; in fact, it favoured healthy development of cover-cropping in the vineyards and, hence, of biodiversity. Spring was late in arriving, and its lower-than-average temperatures slowed bud-break and shoot growth on all our wine estates.     The night of 8-9 April unfortunately brought a late freeze that damaged low-lying vineyards, particularly those planted to Sangiovese, an early-budding grape.  Fortunately, the higher-quality Sangiovese, lying at elevations of over 300 metres, escaped unscathed.       Temperatures remained well below seasonal averages through late June, and cold nights had a positive impact, encouraging canopy growth and cluster development. Flowering and fruit set occurred normally, thanks to fine, even weather.   Summer was quite hot, with the result that younger vineyards required emergency irrigation. In fact, it is now our standard practice to install irrigation when planting new vineyards, in order to cope with weather extremes now an expected feature of climate change. The rainfall on 28 August was providential for the final stage of ripening, since it encouraged migration from the leaves into the clusters of all the aromatic precursors and pigments. The rains were well distributed over the entire region of Tuscany and heavy enough for good soil penetration, which gave relief to the vines after a long and challenging period of dry, hot weather.    At Pomino, we expect to start harvesting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for the Leonia base wines on 23 August; the clusters are optimally ripe, with acidities that have stayed satisfactorily high. Pomino’s elevation allows a gradual ripeness process without “burning off” tartaric acid, so the musts retain their natural vitality.   In the Maremma, on the Tenuta Ammiraglia, irrigation ensured that the vines were able to avoid any heat stress that might have compromised the quality of the rosés and of Vermentino, but we will be waiting until mid-September to finally start picking.   In Montalcino, small clusters and concentrated berries lead us to expect an exceptional-quality harvest, though the production of Rosso di Montalcino will be less than usual.   In Chianti Rufina, at Nipozzano, harvest is still quite some ways off, but both vine canopies and crop balance are optimal, and a providential rain over the next few days would certainly help the vines through this final ripeness stage.   At Castiglioni, the Sangiovese crop in the more low-lying areas will certainly be less, due to the late frost, but the clusters are already intensely-pigmented and rich in flavours, with supple tannins, so expectations are for high quality.  
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