Tag Archives: Tenuta di Trinoro

2021 Growing Year in Italy: What to expect

The life-force of the vine vs climate changes

High quality anticipated in the wine-cellar

Harvest is literally upon us with some white grapes already safely in the cellar and several red grape varieties being picked at this very moment. But it’s still too early to draw any definitive conclusions about the 2021 harvest, since producers up and down the peninsula are still relying on predictions. Which, however, are encouragingly positive.

Let’s give a brief overview of the growing season. The weather brought three distinctive phenomena that had critical impacts. A spring freeze plunged temperatures that delayed bud-break and shoot growth by some 10 days, whose effects are still being felt in the current ripening stage, while the south suffered under water deprivation and the north was hit by torrential rains. The common thread that emerged from these challenges, though, was the current outstanding health status and overall quality of the fruit, a situation that augurs well for fine wines from 2021. Delivering the best results seem to have been the most ecologically-sensitive vineyard operations and precision agricultural practices, approaches that protect and express terroir in the face of increasingly threatening climate changes.   

We asked producers from north to south what they thought and how they were managing to transform climate threats into quality outcomes.

NORTH

In Trentino, at the historic San Leonardo wine estate, owner Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga reports that “the year opened cold and very rainy, which tried us no end. Then, in early August, the weather really began to smile on us, and we are continuing even now to enjoy fabulous, sunny days, with significant day-night temperature differentials as wide as 18oC. If September follows the same pattern, we have a realistic hope of bringing in a truly superb harvest.” 

Over in Lombardy, in the Oltrepò Pavese hills, the 200 hectares of Conte Vistarino allow a clear picture of overall prospects for the general area. Ottavia Giorgi enthuses: “We have extreme expectations for this harvest, which promises to be even better than we could imagine.” Brimming groundwater reserves, crisp spring weather, painstaking attention to vine-row vegetation, and a healthy status of the clusters harken back to the 2018 season, while the tannins look to be finer-grained than in preceding years. The white grapes are currently exhibiting outstanding pH and acidities, which bodes well for the sparkling base wines as well. “We are expecting very heightened aromatics and crisp acidities in our Pinot Noir, a gift of those quite wide temperature differentials in the hot summer months.”  

TUSCANY

In the Colli Fiorentini, just outside Florence, at Torre a Cona, Niccolò Rossi di Montelera has expectations for “a good quality vintage but for a crop smaller than in 2019 and 2020. Reflecting this growing season’s characteristics, the harvest will kick off slightly later than in previous vintages, beginning with Merlot in the latter half of September, while Sangiovese and Colorino will wait until the end of the month.” 

At Castello di Brolio, one of Chianti Classico’s iconic estates, Francesco Ricasoli explains that the year has brought a one-two punch of freezes and hot spells. “Still, our white grapes, which were picked already in late August, are superb, in both quality and quantity. We expect to bring in our Sangiovese around mid-September; the crop will be down a bit, but quality definitely up. Cluster size is somewhat small, as in 2017, but they show deeper colour, aromatic intensity, and better concentration.” 

Just a few kilometres away, Giovanni Mazzei underscores that the current season “is yet more proof of our vines’ ability to withstand challenging weather conditions thrown at them.” In particular, in the Siepi zone, “where deep soils and a high percentage of clay help retain much more moisture than other areas, a generous water supply for the roots and wide day-night temperature ranges are ensuring excellent ripeness levels.”    

At Castello di Querceto in Greve in Chianti, the unfavourable weather phenomena reduced the crop load by about 10%. Alessandro François is cautious about making any definitive judgments. While waiting to see what the next few weeks will bring, he says that “quality looks very good, but our Sangiovese growing at 400-520 metres still needs more time.”

The heat spells impacted Gaiole in Chianti, too, but director Luca Vitiello of Bertinga explains that “good canopy management protected the clusters and careful ground-working allowed the vines to recently complete veraison, a bit late perhaps, but with no excessive stress. These are the foundations for an excellent harvest, which we are looking for in the next days of September for the Merlot vineyards and the first half of October for Sangiovese.”  

Moving into Montalcino, Emilia Nardi, owner of Tenute Silvio Nardi, tells us that “thanks to our 2020 post-harvest operations, the vines enjoyed a plentiful supply of water, which allowed them to handle this season’s lack of it. Right now, the fruit shows surprisingly good balance and the vines good canopy development.”

Heading towards the Tuscan coast, where the vineyards of the Tenuta di Ghizzano lie in the Pisan hills, Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini declares herself satisfied, since “the white grape varieties are in very good shape indeed. For some of the reds, however, the situation is somewhat more complicated. The Merlot is already in the cellar, and the quality seems quite high, but we’re hoping for a bit more rain, which would give our Sangiovese perfect phenolic ripeness.” Rains have already been of providential help this year, and “our clay-rich soils were able to absorb the rains we saw in May, which helped the vines cope with the summer drought.”   

In Riparbella, the just-emerging Colline Albelle operation uses one of its tools, dry-farming, to prevent heat stress. Winery director and winemaker Julian Renaud explains that “we also mow the cover-crop in mid-May, leaving everything on the ground, we keep canes short to prevent evapo-transpiration, do no leaf-pulling, and we utilise biodynamic preparations. All that helps us maintain optimal balance in the vineyards and a very gradual ripening process. This year, we expect about a 15-day delay in starting our harvest.” 

Along the same coast, in Bolgheri, Ornellaia director Axel Heinz, notes that its unique configuration of quite deep soils with high percentages of clay and limestone encourages the vine roots to go deep in search of water, which helps them resist the long stretches of dryness here. In addition, “Our sunny, dry conditions help the early-developing white varieties to fully ripen.” And finally, a drop in temperatures created “ideal conditions for the final stage of ripening, thus giving the red varieties all the time they needed to reach perfect ripeness.”

In the Maremma, the Fattoria Le Pupille team can draw a sigh of relief at what promises at this moment to be a great vintage. “The rains in mid-July gave us a welcome boost, relieving the heat stress and bringing the growing year to a blessed close.” A stance of hope, therefore, from Ettore Rizzi, estate agronomist and oenologist of the estate founded by Elisabetta Geppetti.

Also in the Maremma is Castello di Vicarello, where the hillslope position of the vineyards was proof against the spring freezes, and in the summer ensured them cool night-time temperatures that warded off heat stress. Brando Baccheschi Berti evinces pronounced satisfaction over fruit quality: “Wonderful acidities and full berries, proof that our old, deep-rooted vines are holding up well. My impression is that it’s going to be a beautiful vintage.” 

In the Val d’Orcia, finally, with benchmark operation Tenuta di Trinoro, a textbook-perfect vintage is expected. Here, too, the difficult weather brought challenges, but director Calogero Portannese expresses strong confidence in those “significant day-night temperature variations, which encouraged impressively-high quality in the fruit. Still, the harvest is a ways off yet, and we have to wait to see what autumn will finally bring us.”  

SICILY and SARDINIA

Over the sea in Sardinia’s Gallura district, Massimo Ruggero, managing director of Siddùra, explains that the area did experience the spring freezes, but the impact was not severe, “thanks to our particular climate here in this valley, our crop was down just slightly compared to the previous year. Overall grape health is good, and the final crop should almost equal that of 2020.” 

Let’s conclude our journey in Sicily. Mount Etna suffered a torrid, dry summer, and Vincenzo Lo Mauro, director of Passopisciaro, helped the vines by supplying night-time emergency irrigation. “The Chardonnay harvest started early, right after mid-August. The grapes were in wonderful condition, heathy and aromatic, and they’ll give us a very intense, firm-structured wine. Regarding the reds, we’re hoping the heat will drop and that we’ll receive some rainfall, which will help them get to that perfect point of ripeness.”

And now, there’s nothing we can do but wait.

Nights of frost on 7th and 8th April 2021 at Tenuta di Trinoro in Val d’Orcia, Tuscany

 

During the nights of the 7th and 8th of April, the vineyards at Tenuta di Trinoro offered a moving sight: vine rows lit up in the thick of night with thousands of candles lined up and burning. 

The whole winery team of 36 workers fought a wave of frost that had come down the mountain to threaten fragile buds just beginning to sprout; the team had already prepared and set 3.000 large candles made with buckets filled with wax, placed along the rows during the day, as is customary in many of the colder vineyards of northern Europe. At Tenuta di Trinoro operations started at around midnight, with careful monitoring of the falling temperatures, until fire had to be set to stacks of firewood piled around the vineyards; then the 3.000 candles were lit. This kept the air around the plants above 0° degrees, while all around the vineyards, temperatures as low as 4.5° below freezing point were registered. 

In the morning, at 9.45, the team left, after 8 hours of frantic work against this spell of cold air. More nights like this are expected this year.

2020 Harvest underway. How are Italy’s most representative varieties faring?

24 September 2020.  Italy’s harvest is at the halfway point, and we asked, “How are they doing?” about the Country’s most classic grapes.

Vermentino. This grape variety is the very symbol of seaside and vacation, but Italian viticulture offers some quite sophisticated interpretations of it. In Sardinia, where it is one of the principal varieties, Siddùra (37 hectares of vineyard) offers outstanding testimony, with three different Vermentino expressions in rising complexity, Spèra, Maìa, and Bèru. “We picked most of our Vermentino in the first two weeks of September,” reports Director Massimo Ruggero. “Then the temperatures dropped, and we had a couple of brief spells of rain, so we waited a few days, then concluded the harvest on 21 September.” The clusters were sound and healthy, with fine acidities, qualities required to produce a Vermentino that will age well. “The crop level was on a par with previous vintages. Our climate is hot and dry, which Vermentino likes, hydration was always sufficient except for the hottest weeks in July and August, which required focused action to ensure proper soil irrigation”.

Pinot Bianco. Pinot Bianco is another important grape, this time in northern Italy, where, at the foot of the Alps, it achieves rare elegance. Cantina Kaltern (450 hectares of vineyards), one of the largest producers in the Alto Adige region, is approaching the end of its harvest. Technical director Andrea Moser admits that rains in August constituted the main challenge this season, but he says, “I am satisfied with the Pinot Bianco we have brought in so far, particularly the lots that will go into our cru Vial. I am already anticipating a Pinot Bianco of remarkable sapidity. In fact, the lots of fruit that we waited to bring in show textbook ripeness, so they should give us really age-worthy Pinot Biancos.”

Sangiovese. Tuscany’s “royal variety” is the protagonist of some of Italy’s most famous reds: Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, and many renowned IGTs. At Castello di Brolio (240 hectares of vineyard), the Sangiovese harvest started mid September. In the words of Francesco Ricasoli, “We started picking our Sangiovese slightly earlier than the norm. Currently, we’ve brought into the cellar the earliest-ripening parcels and some of our finest cru vineyards, such as Roncicone. Colledilà is almost ready, while the parcels that go to produce CeniPrimo will be harvested at the beginning of October. The Sangiovese is perfectly healthy, thanks to lovely heat in the first half of September.”

Also at Tenuta Luce (88 hectares of vineyard), one of Montalcino’s leading estates, the Sangiovese-harvest has already kicked off. “It is important to be ready to pick at just the right moment,” explains Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi. “We started harvesting our Sangiovese on 18 September, but we will wait a few more days for the clusters dedicated to the cru of Luce Brunello. We are very positive: the fruit is healthy and shows a great aromatic potential. We fully believe that 2020 will be a beautiful vintage for our Brunello of Tenuta Luce.”

In the Tuscan Maremma, on the other hand, the Sangiovese harvest is completed” Yes, the temperatures in August were certainly high,” admitted Ettore Rizzi, owner and production manager at Fattoria Le Pupille (80 hectares under vine), an area leader that has made Maremma and its Morellino famous worldwide. “But we also had cool nights and consistent breezes. We began picking a bit early, and exercised rigorous quality-selection in the vineyard. That paid off, with beautiful, crisp fruit and good phenolic ripeness, very promising conditions for both our Morellino di Scansano and for our well-known cru, Poggio Valente.”

Nebbiolo. Another lead actor on the Italian wine stage is, of course, Nebbiolo, which in Piedmont’s Langhe district makes the revered Barolo and Barbaresco. Pio Cesare (75 hectares of vineyard) is counting down to the harvest. Reports Federica Boffa, fifth-generation owner, “Our Nebbiolos are approaching full ripeness, a point we expect them to reach in about ten days. The sugar levels are excellent, and the components of physiological ripeness are lining up nicely. We should begin harvesting in the first days of October, a bit earlier than in recent seasons.”

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Co. The international varieties have long found in Italy their ideal habitat and yield world-class expressions in certain areas that are now their “home.” Among the iconic producers is Masseto (11 hectares in vines) whose same-named wine is a legend among wine lovers, and Bolgheri-based Ornellaia (115 hectares of vineyard), whose vineyards are a byword for utmost attention and sustainable viticulture. “2020 is great example of the now- unpredictable nature of our weather, “observes Axel Heinz, director of both wine estates. “We have had to deal with challenges on various fronts: a spell of high heat and periods of cooler temperatures and rain. The Merlot is already in the cellar, since we finished picking that variety on 15 September. We are now in the process of picking the first clusters of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The grapes are gorgeous, ripe, with terrific quality.”

Also located in Tuscany, in the enchanted Val d’Orcia’s Sarteano, is Tenuta di Trinoro (23 hectares in vineyard), whose owner, Andrea Franchetti, is still waiting patiently to bring in his Merlot. “September’s waxing moon is coaxing our Merlot into the final stage of ripeness,” he says. “I go out into the vineyard every morning to taste the berries, just to measure the progress they’ve made overnight.” As far as the Cabernet is concerned, though, “We’re still going to have wait a good bit.”

In Trentino, at San Leonardo (30 hectares in vineyard), Marchese Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga too is quite happy with the Merlot he has brought in. “It’s still too early to pronounce an in-depth judgment, but we’re quite confident regarding quality, since the technical figures all line up so well: excellent acidities, solid pH, and moderate sugars, so all this should ensure elegant, crisp wines, which are precisely the hallmarks of our San Leonardo.” Here, too, the Cabernet is waiting for the autumn sun to bring it to final ripeness.

Pinot Noir. This variety may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of Italian viticulture, but the challenging Pinot Noir grape has found a home here too, and in some growing areas delivers sublime wines. One of these is certainly Lombardy’s Oltrepò Pavese, on whose gently-rolling hills Conte Vistarino (200 hectares of vineyards) has been cultivating Pinot Noir since the mid-1800s, producing a line almost exclusively composed of this noble variety. “Out Pinot Noirs have been in for two weeks now, and they are now fermenting,” reports Ottavia Vistarino. “We started on 19 August with the grapes for our sparkling wines, then it was the turn of our red wines, including our crus Pernice, Bertone, and Tavernetto. We were particularly fortunate this year to see a good balance between crop and canopy, which means that the alcohol levels will be contained and the results elegant and refined.”

Nerello Mascalese. The iconic variety of Mount Etna, which makes one of Sicily’s most sought-after wines, is one of the last-harvested grapes. At Passopisciaro (26 hectares of vineyard), one of the very first producers to divine the quality potential of this particular Sicilian terroir, the berries are looking fine indeed and ripeness is proceeding apace, thanks to end-of-summer heat and day-night temperature differentials that vary as much as 20o. Director Vincenzo Lo Mauro exudes positivity: “If weather conditions continue this way, we’ll start picking towards the end of October.” Contrada Rampante, the estate’s highest vineyard area, will be in all likelihood the last to be harvested, but as Lo Mauro, with more than 20 harvests under his belt, underscores, every season speaks its own unique language, and in the world of wine, perhaps more so than in others, one never stops learning.

And how could we argue?

Encounter with #storiedivino 15 Italian wine producers live on Facebook and Instagram.

Wine-lovers across the globe can now enjoy a virtual encounter with 15 top-ranked wine producers throughout Italy in a “virtual wine fair.” In place of the usual stands will be direct social-media encounters right from the wineries, vineyards, or desks of these wine producers in most of Italy’s regions. Anyone using social media can meet with them via the wineries’ Facebook and Instagram pages.

 

During these weeks, while almost all of us in the world are “sheltering in place” in our homes, spring has awakened the vines. In synch with the season, wine producers are looking resolutely towards the future. Each of them is ready to personally describe the wines that, following long months of maturation and bottle-ageing, are ready for their journey to the tables of consumers in all corners of the globe. Each bottle has a story of a growing year, and, behind that, the passion, beauty, and values classic to Eternal Italy.       

 

After they introduce their new vintages, the producers will be happy to engage in conversation with wine-lovers and wine sector professionals and to respond “live” to any questions they may have.  (Note: All times are CET-Central European Time)

Monday, 6 April: Ricasoli 1141 (IG 3pm), Tenuta di Ghizzano (FB 4pm), Pio Cesare 1881 (IG 6pm)

Tuesday, 7 April: Azienda Vitivinicola Passopisciaro (FB 4pm), Conte Vistarino (IG 4.30pm), San Leonardo (IG 5pm)

Wednesday, 8 April: Tenuta di Trinoro (4pm on Instagram under „passopisciaro_trinoro“), Tenute Silvio Nardi (FB 4.30pm), Castello di Querceto (FB 5pm), Fattoria Le Pupille (IG 5.30pm)

Thursday, 9 April: Ornellaia (FB 3pm), Antico Podere Gagliole (IG 3.30pm), Alliance Vinum (FB 4pm), Giodo (IG 4.30pm), Luce della Vite (IG 5pm)

Début of Tenuta di Trinoro vintage 2017, flanked by a new Bianco

2017 was a challenging growing year. Even a unique environmental niche such as the Val d’Orcia had to confront, like the rest of Italy, three months of intense summer heat, made more severe by a lack of groundwater reserves, the result of the previous relatively dry winter. But the Tenuta di Trinoro team was successful in meeting the challenge, demonstrating determined, expert vineyard management that put into practice every tenet of the production philosophy of Andrea Franchetti, winery founder and creator of wines unique for their concentration, depth, and complexity.   

 

Thanks to the lengthy, hot season, there was certainly no lack of concentration in the fruit. At harvest, begun 27 September and concluded 13 October, the berries were small, with thick skins and little juice, and their wines emerged near-opaque, black, and concentrated. It required waiting some months before they could be evaluated properly and a final blend assembled, which privileged Cabernet Franc, at 69%, assisted by 23% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.   

Tenuta di Trinoro 2017 is full-bodied with fine depth, “and dense-packed, silky tannins; the palate showcases well-ripened plum and blueberry, with wild herb and iron-like impressions,” explained Franchetti. Some years of bottle-ageing will allow it to achieve full expression and “to lose those slight vegetal notes that, of course, are classic to the two Cabernets.”    

2017 also marks the debut—at least to the markets – of the Tenuta’s Bianco, a one-of-a-kind, 100% Semillon that grows in a tiny, sandy-soil parcel at an elevation of 630 metres and with a very tight, 1 x 1 metre layout. The pronounced aromatic qualities classic to the variety are nicely balanced in the grapes by a forward crispness and acidity, producing a wine that is concentrated yet taut, displaying great depth and promising significant cellarability.  

 

Tenuta di Trinoro. Located near Sarteano, at the entrance to the Val d’Orcia, in southeast Tuscany, the estate boasts 16 vineyard parcels, totaling some 25 hectares, planted at elevations of 450-650 metres. Tenuta di Trinoro is a Bordeaux-style cuvée that has always been the estate’s keystone wine. Its portfolio also includes Le Cupole, a younger and more accessible wine from the estate vineyards; I Campi, from three parcels of Cabernet Franc; the all-Merlot Palazzi; and, debuting with the 2017 vintage, Bianco di Trinoro.      

Tenuta di Trinoro interprets the 2016 vintage and translates it into a masterpiece

 

 

The 2016 growing season, quite well-balanced, with mild and sometimes cool weather, is difficult to describe, much less to embody in the bottle, but at Tenuta di Trinoro it is precisely in seasons like this that knowing how to wait “results in incredible wines.”

For over 20 years now, this wine estate, located in the Val d’Orcia, an enchanted and utterly unique corner of earth, has been harvesting “à la carte”–picking the grapes from its 16 vineyards just at the moment when each is optimally ripe. All the vineyards, a mosaic of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, are planted at very high densities in the estate’s clay soils. 

The 2016 harvest started on 24 September, and the memory is still vivid: “Exciting-quality Merlot is still coming into the cellar, on 27 and 29, and we did the last load on a very long 30 September (…) On the first days of October it rained lightly on the Cabernet Franc, but the vineyards dried out, and then the moon rose, bright and clear.” “By 12 October, the valley was a sea of dark grapes, and the moon advanced majestically like a banner leading the wine styles into the world of luxury.”

Later, benchmark producer Andrea Franchetti took this complex of grape varieties and characters and fashioned this res nova, the perduring estate wine in its latest edition. “In the 2016 vintage, I wanted to express the season’s delicate character; putting aside all the other vats, I chose two of Merlot and two of Cabernet Franc, in equal parts.” 

Right now, the 2016 vintage Tenuta di Trinoro, produced in 6,000 bottles, is setting off on its journey throughout the world. Its favoured market is England, where for avid collectors it conjures up the dream and experience of Tuscany, but it is sought-after in the German-speaking world as well, in America, and obviously in Italy too, where it is found in the finest wine-shops and restaurants. The price is not at an every-day level, but sublime emotions are not always within easy reach.

 

***

 

Tenuta di Trinoro is located at Sarteano, at the beginning of the Val d’Orcia, in southeast Tuscany. The vineyards, divided into 16 separate parcels lying between 450-600 metres’ elevation. Tenuta di Trinoro has always been the winery’s iconic wine. The portfolio also includes Palazzi, a powerful Merlot-interpretation and Le Cupole, a younger, more accessible version, from the estate’s younger vineyards; recently also three crus from three separate vineyard parcels of Cabernet Franc have become part of the Tenuta di Trinoro’s wine collection, i.e. Campo di Tenaglia, Campo di Magnacosta and Campo di Camagi.

Tenuta di Trinoro triumphs at Merano WineFestival

The Wine Hunter names Palazzi 2015 as Best Wine


The best wine at the Merano Wine Festival 2017, the prestigious wine show that attracts producers from Italy and across the globe, is Palazzi from Tenuta di Trinoro, the cult winery of so many wine-lovers.

Palazzi stood out from all the Platinum wines (over 95 points) that had been selected by The Wine Hunter Helmuth Köcher (award.winehunter.it) and which this year too included world-class wines such as Saffredi, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia, Le Pergole Torte, D’Alceo, and Il Marroneto—to mention just few examples from Tuscany, Tenuta di Trinoro’s winegrowing region.

“I am extremely proud of this recognition, which is such a tribute to our interpretation of Merlot,” commented . “Here in the Val d’Orcia, in our clay-rich soils, this grape gives us a remarkably fleshy, deep wine.

“The 2015 growing year was essentially trouble-free, with rains coming regularly and at substantial intervals right up to November, allowing us to bring in exceptional-quality Merlot without any haste.”  

Today, the results are on full display in the bottle—if one can find one of the 3,700 produced.