Bolgheri, vintages

1995 Spring was cold and damp until mid-June. The weather then improved and the month of July until mid August was hot and dry. After mid-August until mid-September, temperatures were below average with some rain. After that time the weather greatly improved and was sunny, dry and very warm. Overall this meant that the grapes were in fact able to ripen perfectly. It was necessary, however, to carry out a severe selection and thinning of the grapes before the harvest, in order to ensure that the grapes remaining on the vines at the time of harvest had the desired good quality. Quantities were generally below average. |

1996 The spring which was quite cool at the beginning caused a slight delay in budding, but afterwards temperatures increased enabling perfect flowering and fruit set. Abundant yields, needing thinning.

1997 The latter part of winter and the beginning of spring were very mild for the time of the year and also very dry. This produced early budding – some 10 days earlier than average. In April the temperature suddenly dropped, causing an arrest in the growth of the buds. The summer was very hot and sunny and this weather continued for the whole of September and for the duration of the harvest. Yields somewhat lower than expected. High quality. Probably even better than the much acclaimed 1990 vintage and one of the greatest of the last fifty years.

1998 The end of Winter and the beginning of Spring were mild and very dry, which favoured early budding of the vines and accelerated the vegetative cycle – until the stabilising effect of some rainfall in May. Flowering took place in the same average period as other vintages. June was very hot and this accelerated the growth of the grapes and of the vegetative cycle by about 10-12 days. The Summer months were very hot and sunny with temperatures well above average – particularly in July with long periods without any rainfall. This meant that the growth rate of the vines slowed down slightly and, on average, the grapes ripened about a week earlier than in average vintages.

1999 The beginning of spring was characterized by some rainfalls and temperatures slightly higher than seasonal average, favouring budding a few days earlier than normal, for the various varieties. These conditions resulted in excellent flowering and the relative vegetal cycle. The rainfalls, during the first part of summer period, permitted a good vegetative balance of the vines also in the month of August, when there was a total ripening of all varieties. This excellent condition produced more grapes per vine than desired for our quality production level. For this reason, during August, the red grape varieties were carefully selected and thinned in order to eliminate the excessive production. During the first part of September the weather was particularly favorable and the grapes ripened perfectly. |

2000 The favorable weather patterns at the beginning of spring favored an early budding of about one week for the various varieties. All through the spring we had excellent weather, warm temperatures and the right amount of rain, resulting in excellent flowering and the relative vegetal cycle. This optimal vegetative balance of the vines ended in full ripening between the end of July and the beginning of August, about 7 to 10 days earlier than usual. The excessive heat wave around mid-August, lasting only a week, did not slow down maturation, and the first grapes gathered showed immediate promise of an excellent vintage. In conclusion, the early harvest coupled with a rainless period of picking allowed us to bring in excellent mature grapes.

2001 The beginning of Spring 2001 was characterized by rainfalls and slightly above average seasonal temperatures which favoured an early budding of the different varieties. The following weather conditions determined excellent flowering and setting, resulting in a full-balanced production. The excessive rainfalls which characterized most of the Summer, from mid July onwards, created some difficulties in the ripening of the grapes and their healthiness. Weather conditions were not stable during the last three weeks of harvest: favorable at the beginning (allowing the non-picked grapes to reach maturity) and characterized by rainfalls at the end. The 2002 harvest has been one of the most difficult of the past years. In some areas we had excellent quality-wise production while in other areas results were not satisfying mainly due to the unfavorable climate conditions.

2003 After a rainy and fairly cold autumn and winter, spring and summer 2003 will certainly be remembered as among the hottest and driest in recent years. Thanks to the dry, mild weather in spring, budding was promising and slightly earlier than average for all varieties and the conditions were subsequently excellent for flowering and fruit setting. From June onwards throughout the summer the weather conditions were unusual with very high temperatures and absolutely no rain. As a consequence, the grapes ripened early and immediately after 15th August the earliest ripening varieties showed very high sugar levels, due to a sort of natural auto-concentration. Production quantities were slightly lower due to the lack of water, especially where emergency watering was not possible. This trend continued steadily during the harvesting period, allowing us to wait for the best moment to pick the fruit, thus avoiding risks of damage to the grapes. |

2004 Heavy rain in autumn 2003 enabled the soil layers to restabilize after the testing summer drought. The winter was cold and rainy with repeated fairly heavy snowfall. Thanks to the weather conditions, budbreak in 2004 was delayed by 10-15 days even for more precocious varieties. During flowering and fruit-set, the weather was remarkably wet and cool (the lowest temperatures in the last 3-4 years). The vegetation developed well although with consistent delay through to veraison and ripening of the grapes. Intense pre-harvest selection was necessary because the weather conditions caused over-production. Lastly, the harvest began a couple of weeks later than average, when the grapes were perfectly healthy and ripe and showed a perfect balance of quantity and quality.

2005 The weather in autumn 2004 was quite mild with much heavier rain than in recent years. The unusually cold winter in spring 2005 caused a delay in foliage development while the period around flowering was mild and quite dry, resulting in good fruit-setting. In July maximum temperatures reached 35° C which accelerated veraison, while a mild August with frequent but light rain-showers resulted in slow, steady ripening. The grapes were healthy and perfectly ripe when harvested, with good potential, up to the standard of recent harvests. |

2006 The 2006 harvest in Bolgheri was particularly well balanced and began in the first week of September, starting with early ripening grapes, Merlot being the first, which had reached perfect ripeness. There was no rain for the duration of the harvest (apart from a few stormy days mid September) and the vines were in optimum health, with no stress from drought. This gave an ideal period of time for the harvest, in which each variety was picked in turn, when the grapes were fully ripe, starting with the Merlot, then the Syrah and, finally, the Cabernet Sauvignon (picked between the last week of September and the first week of October). |

2007 Thanks to a mild winter and above-average temperatures in the spring, the year 2007 was characterized by substantially earlier than usual vegetative development in the plants. The unusual and intense rains during the second half of August helped to allow a normal ripening of the grape bunches. The ideal meteorological conditions during the month of September, characterized by beautiful, dry weather and great fluctuations between day and nighttime temperatures, allowed all of the grape varietals to ripen perfectly, and permitted all of the harvesting operations to be carried out at the best possible moment. Potentially a very good vintage.

2008 The 2008 vintage began with a rather rainy spring which created certain challenges to the cultivation of the vineyard and the health of the grapes. The summer, dry and quite warm, brought things back into balance. Harvest with fine weather conditions which allowed a careful selection of the best grapes, picked only when fully and completely ripe. The dry north winds which characterized the second half of September and a consequent lowering of temperatures led – in the case of late-ripening varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon – to a further lengthening of the ripening cycle and a gain both in aromatic and structural potential while preserving a fresh and vibrant acidity.

2009 The 2009 growing season was characterized by three successive phases: an early period punctuated by significant rainfall, then warm and sunny weather until mid-September and an early harvest for the Merlot. Cool and occasionally rainy weather in September delayed picking, but both Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot benefitted from this additional time on the vine to achieve important levels of ripeness and complexity. Wines with moderate rather than long ageing potential.

2010 A cooler and wetter vintage here compared to 2010 in Montalcino, Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile, and considered ‘less great’ as a result. Others see it as under-rated and understated. Need to pick your producer with care, though, to avoid diluted wines with stalky tannins.

2011 Unstable growing season. After a warm early spring, which led to a slightly precocious budding of the vines, the weather then changed, first to a cool early summer and then to a torrid later period which caused certain anomalies in the ripening process and a lower production of grapes per hectare. September, at the end of the growing season, was good, with low humidity, warm days, cool nights. A challenge to harvest for bigger estates. Those able to selectively pick made rich, powerful reds with freshness and purity for early drinkability yet with a degree of staying power.

2012 The early part of 2012 was characterized by very cold temperatures and snowfall, virtually unprecedented for the area. Bud break was regular. But fewer bunches per bud. Hot and dry from late spring to early summer, resulting in a limited growth of the berries and lower production per vine. This in addition to the lower fertility already noted led to a 20% loss in production for the year. A tough year producing some stretched wines from small grapes on over-wrought vines. Evidence that 2012 was not an acrosss the board success for Tuscany.

2015 The 2015 winter was not excessively severe. Warmer than average (1-3°C above average) in February and March. Normal rain levels, but in huge bursts. Mild spring was mild, with light, intermittent rainfall. Summer was fairly dry and with very high average temperatures, with hot spells in July. Mid-August rain pushed the vines into maturity. Normal timing for the start of harvest, in late August for Merlot, ending in early October for Cabernet Sauvignon. Potentially a very good vintage.

2016 Exceptionally warm winter. Earlier than normal budbreak. Very wet end to February. Average temperatures and rainfall in spring. Normal bud burst. Warm summer. No excessive heat. Cool nights. Dry weather at harvest.

2017 Drought year. Dry winter. Very dry spring. Summer drought.

2018 Severe winter. February saw multiple days of sub-zero temperatures. Very wet spring. Rampant vine growth, disease pressure. Normal summer.