Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Tuscan harvest 2019

IMG_9758-1SangioveseWelcome to the first Tuscan-wide online diary which gives a day-by-day account of the grape harvest in Tuscany. After the success of the first eight seasons of Tuscan Harvest Watch, the reports on 2019 appear here.

Many thanks to the wineries that have agreed to let us know how the harvest is proceeding. They offer a unique chance to compare the progress of the harvest across the key Tuscan wine areas. The wineries have been chosen to give a broad view of the season in key areas of Tuscany, reflecting different terroirs and climatic conditions. From north to south the featured areas are: Chianti Rufina, Chianti Classico, Bolgheri, Val d’Orcia, Montalcino, Montepulciano and the upper and lower Maremma.

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Latest reports
Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 28 October 

The harvest was completed in the middle of October. After the end of September’s rains, we had to work overtime to save the wonderful Sangiovese grapes which were being attacked by botrytis. We achieved this but with a lot of sacrifices. 

We have one-third of absolute excellence, one-third of top quality and one-third of grapes above standard.

The volumes picked were around 60 quintals per hectare, in contrast to the estimate which had been 5% higher, due to the selection in the vineyard which meant we had to lose quantity.  It is certainly the case that the high temperatures with high humidity, caused by the changes in the climate, are having ever greater impacts on our work which is becoming more difficult.

Carla Benini, Sassotondo, Pitigliano, 24 October
The harvest has finished and the olive picking is starting in an autumn which seems like a new summer.  
However, the harvest has been excellent and with plenty of grapes but above all very lovely and healthy fruit: excellent fruit, good colour, very good acidity, alcohol levels that are not too high. What more could we wish for?
Now we are celebrating with the usual lunch, some music and a walk through the Etruscan roads to thank the earth (and to sober up).
Andrea Contucci, Contucci, Montepulciano, 13 October

We ended a very positive harvest on Thursday.

The quality of Sangiovese is really high and the quantity is around 10% more than an average year … so we are quite satisfied.

Now we are completing the fermentation, I think that in 7-10 days everything will be completed.

I attach a few pictures for you.

Marco Capitoni, Capitoni, Val d’Orcia, 7 October 

We are harvesting the final bunches of Sangiovese. RIPE, full ripeness, that’s what you see, touching and tasting the grapes. Now can say we are surrounded by a GREAT VINTAGE!

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 7 October 

The harvest of the Sangiovese is continuing in this first ten days of October.

We have one-third of absolute excellence, one-third of top quality and one-third of grapes for good wine.

The battle against the weather is being felt by the pickers and by me: this has been a particularly hard year because of the noble rot which in some zones, next to the woods, has been significant.

In the photo, there is a cart of Sangiovese, with my son Filippo getting ready to unload the grapes into the destemmer where one can really see the quality of the grapes.

Carla Benini, Sassotondo, Pitigliano, 5 October 

I started the harvest on 9 September with the Sauvignon, paused to give the winery a good clean, sort out the old wines, empty the terracotta vessels and complete the final bottling …

Then around the 16th we began again with the Merlot and the Teroldego, as always in beautiful condition. The weather was perfect as well, the temperatures were wonderful, a little September air.

We decided to wait a bit for the Ciliegiolo, our flagship vineyard, with which we have used a variety of types of winemaking for years (stainless steel, wood, terracotta) and also identified microzones in the vineyard with the consultancy of Pedro Parra.

In the meantime we harvested the Trebbiano, which is pretty good but perhaps this year a bit too productive; and part of the Sangiovese where again we were not quite able to control the vigour of the year. These grapes will be excellent with our lovely Greco and Sauvignon Blanc and with Teroldego and Merlot. The buyers of our two entry-level wines Tuforosso and Tuffobianco will be happy, finally, perhaps we shouldn’t complain about the volumes assigned!

Yesterday we finished the Ciliegiolo of the San Lorenzo vineyard where we will have three different approaches to winemaking for three different plots of land. Today we are finishing picking the Ciliegiolo close to the house, for the first time with two winemaking approaches for different plots of land.

There remains the Trebbiano and the Greco for our Bianco di Pitigliano, called Isolina, and the Sangiovese for Ombra Blu (Sovana Rosso). But I think that by the end of next week all will be in the winery.

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 29 September 

The harvest of Sangiovese for our Chianti Classico will begin in the first days of October, a ‘normal’ time, in contrast to recent years which have been earlier and earlier due to climate change. 

At the beginning of September, we picked the Sangiovese grapes for our traditional method sparkling wine base. Here is the technical sheet for our sparkling wine disgorged in 2014 now on the market.  Then we picked the Trebbiano and Malvasia for our white wine, Bianco di Caparsino 2019 (technical sheet here for the  2018, now sold out). Finally, we picked our Sangiovese grapes for our IGT Toscana rosé, Rosato di Caparsa, from the coolest of our vineyards at Caparsa. The 2018 version is still available for sale. 

We predict an exceptional vintage for this year, of course, if we don’t have extreme or destructive climatic events. 

The grapes are healthy, due to the hard work of leaf plucking, the use of biological means again botrytis cinerea, but above all the thinning of the bunches which we used for the sparkling wine base and for rosé. 

The photo shows a vineyard at Caparsa on the morning of 23 September after a couple of days of rain. 

Vasco, Massa Vecchia, 24 September

We have started the harvest and we will finish perhaps in the first week of October. Everything is going well! There were some days of rain but we will begin again tomorrow … the grapes are plentiful and beautiful, we are content at the moment.  

Marco Capitoni, Capitoni, Val d’Orcia, 16 September


Here we are: the first grapes, coming into the winery.


The analyses supported our tastings: acidity 6.77, pH 3.5, sugar 25.2. Good days for harvested the Merlot arrived and, in addition, the weather forecast says that rain is forecast for mid-week. As a result, we have decided it is good to start today!

Marco Capitoni, Capitoni, Val d’Orcia, 22 August

The winter months passed with little cold weather and no rain or snow. The drought continued until May when by contrast there was a great deal of rain and low temperatures. As such the season slowed down the vegetative growth significantly. From June on lovely days and high temperatures returned. The latter were frequently well above the average which led to the growth catching up from being behind in May. The canes (that provide structure for the vine) are in good shape and the bunches are even now maturing well. In a whisper I could even say that these are conditions that make for a very good harvest…

Andrea Contucci, Contucci, Montepulciano, 20 August

The 2019 season to this point has been rather good. If we don’t have problems in these final weeks, we will have another lovely year for Vino Nobile.
Winter finished with rather warm temperatures and fine weather. There were no dangerous frosts at the beginning of the vines’ growing season, nor even after that. We had a pretty rainy May, above the average for the season. As a result, we were very busy in the vineyard, continuously cutting the grass which grew continuously and to protect the vineyard from the likely attacks from insects and fungi. Beautiful weather set it from the first days of June with sun and heat, which lasted for the whole of July (with some very hot spells).

In August there was some welcome rain (without hail) which was extremely useful and necessary, to give a bit of vigour to the vines, following the hot spells. The high temperatures have returned now but rain is forecast for the coming days … which however will be for the good.
I will be in touch again when we start to harvest, around mid-September

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 20 August

After a rather rainy and cold May, we have had four waves of heat, mitigated here at Caparsa by the distinctive North-East aspect that favours a correct maturation of grapes. Here at Caparsa, assuming we don’t have the increasingly frequent climatic catastrophes, we are forecasting a year of good quantity and excellent quality. The photo shows Sangiovese grapes on 16 August 2019, taken in the Twins vineyards. It becomes ever clearer the way we cultivate the crop manually – which we do obsessively here at Caparsa – has a decisive influence on quality. 

Winery profiles

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Winefriend on I Veroni – attractive Rufina

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Winefriend on Caparsa – Chianti vertical

Dr Francesco GagliardiCampo alla Sughera, Bolgheri 

Winefriend on Campo alla Sughera: Alabaster, building materials and wine

IMG_0219Massa Vecchia, Massa Marittima
Winefriend on Special places: Massa Vecchia
Tuscan Harvest Watch producers
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Winefriend on Cantucci: at the heart of Montepulciano
Tuscan harvest 2019Gianni Brunelli, Montalcino
Winefriend on: Gianni (and Laura) Brunelli
Tuscan harvest 2019Capitoni, Pienza, Val d’Orcia
Winefriend on Capitoni: Mixed farming and viticulture
Tuscan harvest 2019Sassotondo, Pitigliano
Winefriend on Sassotondo – retreat to the land

Tuscany: the featured wineries

Tuscan harvest 2019

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