Vinexus: Vintage Italia 2020

Generally speaking, the 2020 harvest in Italy faired a lot better than the world under COVID, as many producers were less distracted by the usual demands from the market and could focus on getting the best possible results from mother nature. In terms of volumes, Italy’s production in 2020 was similar to 2019: 46.6 mhl in 2020, 2% less than the 2019 production of 47.5 mhl . According to the OIV’s first estimates Italy is in first place ahead of France in second with 43.9 mhl. As far as the growing season was concerned, winter and spring were generally mild apart from a cold snap after the 24th March which caused some localised frost damage. June was cooler with more abundant rain than average which carried through to July in the north. The centre and south, however, had low rainfall in the peak summer months and experienced very warm temperatures. In August and September temperatures were high but not the extremes witnessed in recent years. Localised storms at times caused extensive damage especially in the regions of Piemonte and Veneto and, in particular, in Soave and Valpolicella. The classic areas of production in Piemonte and Toscana are reporting some very positive qualitative signs.

Major growing regions: (source: Assoenologi)

Piemonte +3% 2.68 mhl (million hectolitres)
A mild spring was abruptly interrupted by a rainy April with sporadic hail. However, with warmer temperatures, flowering was generally good. A rainy June and beginning of July demanded a great deal of attention from the vineyard manager to control disease pressure but if hailstorms were avoided many producers were successful. Warm temperatures but without excessive heat spikes characterised August and September. Many producers were very satisfied with the end result, both in Barbaresco and Barolo, with promising news from the first rackings. On a more negative note, however, flavescence doree, especially for Barbera and “mal dell’esca” both continue their march across the region.

Trentino Alto Adige +5% 1.37 mhl
A fairly regular growing season and climatic conditions compared to recent years apart from a very rainy June. The harvest was early due to early budburst.

Veneto +1% 11.059 mhl
A fairly regular growing season with above average rainfall but not excessive, and warm summer temperatures but not too extreme, was marked by quite frequent thunder storms which haunted the various denominations and vineyard areas. When they struck they caused extensive damage. Generally, a good vintage, not excellent, if you avoided the hail. Andrea Lonardi (Bertani Domains) experienced considerable difficulties in harvesting red grapes for drying and at the Coffele estate (Soave) a violent storm caused widespread structural damage to their vineyards.

Friuli -9% 1.624 mhl
A warm September, according to Alvaro Pecorari (Lis Neris), allowed for a trouble-free harvest, very important to achieve super whites, with white wines already showing high qualitative features. With a fresher, but warm July and August, the whites are graced with fresh, natural acidity.

Toscana -21% 2.074 mhl
Late spring frosts caused some damage to buds, especially in the lower valleys and earlier ripening varieties. After flowering in May, more ideal warm and sunny conditions prevailed with a long, very warm to hot summer but without the excessive temperatures seen in recent hot vintages. In Montalcino, a very promising vintage for lovers of riper styles, rich in fruit but, as Gianni Brunelli notes, a vein of fresh acidity, uplifting the aromatics.

Umbria -10% 0.383 mhl
Budburst was in line with the norm but delays in the growth cycle followed due to above average heat in July and August. A warm vintage for lovers of Sagrantino which benefits from riper fruit.

Marche +5% 0.857 mhl
After a very warm winter and rather cool and wet spring, May and June were average in terms of the growth cycle, although hailstorms plagued localised areas. July and August were hot, which for Verdicchio signified less elegance and more powerful whites.

Abruzzo +6% 3.375 mhl
A very satisfying vintage according to Franco Pasetti from the Contesa estate, despite a precarious beginning with a dry and mild winter and rainy, cool spring. By flowering, at the end of May, the weather turned warm and sunny. A very warm and sunny summer, without, however, the African peaks of other years, and as August turned to September, optimum diurnal temperature fluctuations occurred, enhancing quality.

Campania 0% 0.778 mhl
A very regular growing season apart from a brief and uncharacteristic frost at the end of May in some cooler areas of the mountainous Benevento area. A very warm and sunny summer continued to provide a very normal vegetative vineyard cycle and promising vintage.

Puglia -8% 8.231 mhl
A regular growing season also in Puglia, albeit with a brief a cold snap. High quality is expected for all reds including Primitivo, Negoramaro and Nero di Troia, with healthy grapes, good levels of acidity, sugars and polyphenols.

Basilicata -5% 0.083 mhl
An ideal growing season apart from a hailstorm which hit the lower slopes of the Vulture mountain causing localized damage.

Calabria 0% 0.110 mhl
A very regular growing season without any general incidents to report.

Sicilia -20% 3.129 mhl
A regular vintage here too, although the winter was extremely dry and mild and at the end of March there was an uncharacteristically cool period which affected flowering and quantities. A warm and dry summer followed apart from an Atlantic cold front at the end of July, giving welcome rain.

Sardegna +20% 0.436 mhl
A very regular vintage apart from some parts of Gallura affected by a cold snap in spring and hot temperatures across the island between the 13th and 22nd of August. A much higher production this year compared to last, due to large scale frosts that affected quantities on 2019.


Nick Bielak MW, 2020
1. million hectolitres
2. Assoenologi
3. Organisation Internationale de la vigne et du vin
4. 28th Oct 2020