Montalcino, 2019 vintage | Comments apply to all wines coming from the town of Montalcino, not just Brunello. However the star ratings are those given by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino specifically for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
2019 Growing season | There was no negative carry over from the 2018 vintage into 2019 in terms of disease pathogens.
Spring brought both rain and warmish weather. Bud burst was rather early, at the end of March.
Flowering in May was a staggered affair, with two weeks of good if cool weather due to north winds. This reduced disease pressure (eg. of Downy mildew) but slowed vegetative growth and meant the vines were around 15-20 days behind the norm at this stage.
June and July brought some very hot spells. Much-needed heavy rain at the end of July gave the vines enough water before drought conditions had become critical. Growth then slowed in early August which was very hot (the highest temperatures were 37-38°C). Some growers applied kaolin power (as a ‘sun cream’).
Veraison was on time in mid-August and took place in good weather. This meant that plots would need the chance to ripen at their own pace, permitting slow maturation of the tannins. This made picking each plot at full ripeness easier than when everything ripens at once, and meant there was no excuse for picking with unripe tannins.
September brought a mix of both dry sunny weather and more humid periods. There were two downpours, the second at the end of the month. The risk was grapes with thin skins prone to splitting. There was some hail with the rain events – some organic growers sprayed propolis as an anti-septic, and used zeolite (rock powder, silicate) to dry bunches.
Crucially both rain events were followed by periods of very dry heat. This limited disease issues issues (there were some rot problems due to grapeskins thinner than normal, like in 2005) but may have caused problems in some areas for those who had done very thorough de-leafing around the bunches on arid sites, or those that had already over-enthusiastically crop-thinned.
Some growers reported high levels of anthocyanins, above 3,000 (2,800 is considered usual), others found only just enough colour and tannin to extract. Cool nights in October meant the grapes had juice with potentially excellent pH (3.20–3.30) and TA (6g/l). This allowed flexible picking for where vine health was especially good, meaning grapes could be picked at the right moment, as alcohol levels were no longer rising.
Yields are potentially high at around 70-80 quintals per hectare (75 is allowed for Brunello). The 2019 vintage appears to have been one of both quantity and quality overall.