Source: produttori e assoenologi
Here’s the definitive picture for the 2018 Vintage Italia:
52 million HL of wine and must were produced in Italy which is +24% on 2017. There has been an abundance of quantity compared to most recent vintages but quality is somewhat heterogeneous, with good for the most part and some areas of excellence but rarely outstanding.
A very wet February refilled the reserves after a very dry 2017. March was cold and snowy in most parts of Italy but was soon followed by a warm and dry April. However, May and June were very wet which resulted in widespread downy and powdery mildew, causing much vineyard action and use of sprays. July and August were characterized by high temperatures but also very variable weather conditions especially storms which were unpredictable, local and sometimes dramatic. In the vineyard, with these climatic conditions, there was a high vegetative growth and higher numbers of bunches than the average.
September and October were perfect months for many regions in the North with warm, dry, luminous days and cooler nights. In the Centre and South however, there was in some cases abundant rainfall which disturbed the harvesters and affected quality, especially in the Islands.
Veneto was the most productive region. Veneto, Puglia, and Emilia Romagna produced 50% of Italy’s total production. The south of Puglia was particularly affected by mildew due to the fact that the dry Saharan “scirocco” winds never arrived this year
+35% compared to 2017
Harvest time in Piemonte was dry, bright and warm with cool nights, which dried out the vineyards and ensured high quality, especially for Nebbiolo. At the end of August in Alto Langhe Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were harvested, followed by Brachetto, Moscato, Dolcetto, Cortese and Fresia all with good levels of acidity and phenols. Barbera started around the 20th September, while Nebbiolo the first weeks of October. Many Barolo producers finished the harvest before 12th October as rain was forecast for the following week, but never actually arrived. Overall, a fine harvest for Piemonte.
Production: 3.5 million HL
+ 25% compared to 2017
A fairly regular vintage in terms of budding and flowering, with regular rainfall and temperatures in the average. Quantities, which were too potentially high at flowering were regulated by downy mildew attacks to produce an average crop, although green harvesting was essential for quality. Franciacorta and Oltrepo’ started in mid August while in Valtelina they waited until mid October.
Production 1.3 million HL
Trentino Alto Adige
+ 23% compared to 2017
A fine vintage here with good productivity and high-quality grapes, even though the 3 days of rain between 31st of August and the 2nd of September was annoying for the Chardonnay and PG harvesters. September was perfect with bright light, warm days and cool nights and with a cooler end of September, maturation of polyphenols was long and sustained.
Production: 1.7 million HL
+25% compared to 2017
Good quantities from this, Italy’s most productive region for DOC wines, largely due to new vineyard plantings coming into production. Quality was generally very good, despite higher yields than the norm. With improved mechanisation in the vineyards, some logistical issues with the arrival of too many grapes at the same time.
Production: 12 million HL
Friuli Venezia Giulia
+25% compared to 2017
A faster than usual vegetative cycle due to warmer temperatures and higher levels of precipitation. Healthy fruit both in the hillsides and plains apart from some sporadic downy and powdery mildew. Hot August temperatures accelerated maturation but after which were more regulated by perfect summer conditions, hot temperatures mitigated by a fresh easterly wind. Thick skins but good juice to pip ratios provided for excellent quality.
Production: 1.9 million HL
+28% compared to 2017
In Emilia, the Lambruschi grapes (Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Marani e Lambrusco Grasparossa) were not only abundant but of high quality but the Lambrusco di Sorbara suffered qualitatively with mildew problems. In general, all the other reds, including Sangiovese were of a high quality. Trebbiano was very productive and Albana lacked the intensity of some years but well-balanced acids and polyphenols.
Production: 8.5 million HL
+25% compared to 2017
The varying weather conditions brought a mixed picture in Tuscany. A warm and humid vegetative cycle was interrupted by frequent and local storms with some dramatic effects in some localized areas. In September some areas had 100mm of rain whilst others had only 10mm. There have reported also been significant cases of Drosophila suzuki and moths. However, there are many areas which avoided these difficulties and the drier and more luminous September encouraged optimal conditions for high quality.
Production: 2 million HL
+25% compared to 2017
During the harvest period in the first days of September, there were frequent thunder storms, some quite intense with torrential rain and hail which caused localised damage to vineyards. Avoiding these storms was important to achieve high quality which this year was possible, both for Verdicchio and red grapes, with high temperatures and sufficient water.
Production: 0.8 million HL
+ 40% compared to 2017
A sharp increase in production this year was due to higher rainfall during the ripening stage of the grapes creating bigger berries and a higher juice to skin ratio. However, last year’s production was so low, this year is actually within the norms. In Lazio, it is necessary to also consider the various grubbing up schemes in operation. After a wet growing season until the beginning of September, a drier period followed which allowed some of the later ripening grapes to ripen well, which fortunately applies to many of the indigenous varieties of Lazio and Umbria. The abundant rain, however, leading up to September meant that grape growers and enologists had to use all their skills and knowledge both in the vineyard and winery to achieve high quality.
Production: 1.4 million HL
+15% compared to 2017
The winter rains and snowfall replenished the water tables after the torrid drought of 2017. An almost perfect flowering season, not seen for many decades, promised well for the productive cycle, however, copious rainfall from May to June created various mildew problems which affected quality and quantity especially on the valley floors of the region. August and September were fine months, warm and much drier which allowed for high quality potential for both red and white grapes, especially on the hillside vineyards. Montepulciano is particularly of high quality this vintage.
Production: 3.1 million HL
+18% compared to 2017
An optimistic start to the growing season was unfortunately followed by 2 violent hail storms which had widespread effects but was, however, before the all-important flowering season. Quantity was good but this was then affected in July and August by various violent thunder storms and regular afternoon rain storms. September was warm and drier leading to a slower and more gradual ripening and a better than expected harvest. Whites are potentially of very high quality while the reds are more heterogenous and fresher styles.
Production: 0.7million HL
+20% compared to 2017
The growing season started in the best possible way with abundant rainfall refilling the aquifers emptied by the previous year’s drought and the vegetative cycle behaving like clockwork (flowering, fruit set and veraison). Humid conditions, regular storms and a lack of the drying ‘scirocco’ winds from Africa, however, made conditions ideal for the mildews and the dreaded botrytis, especially towards the of August in the heart of Primitivo country: Sava and Manduria. Careful producers, however, managed to obtain high quality, and a drier September helped the ripening phase of the Puglian grapes of Negroamaro and Nero di Troia.
Production: 10 million HL
+20% compared to 2017
A wet winter was followed by a fairly mild summer for Sicilian standards and so generally speaking, sugars levels were down on the average. However, the growing was overall very regular with more fungal attacks than the average during June and July. At harvest time there was an increase in humidity but did not have a significant effect on the health of the grapes. Whites had good levels of acidity and reds high levels of phenolics giving a good potential for longevity.
Production: 5 million HL
+10% compared to 2017
Disastrous weather conditions, storms, hail and high winds especially in August but also continuing in September and October had a very negative effect on all of Sardinia’s agriculture, including its vineyards, which otherwise was going very well. The destruction caused widespread disease including botrytis as well as a resurgence of mildews. Ripening was late with an inevitable lack of polyphenols and sugars. Perhaps Vermentino from the DOCG area of Gallura performed the best performer, as well as some of the more coastal areas for the reds, especially in the south of the island.
Production: 0.4 million HL