Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Tuscan Harvest 2020

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 nine seasons of Tuscan Harvest Watch, the reports on 2020, our ten year anniversary, will 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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Welcome to  Podere Sapaio in Bolgheri,  a new producer for 2020! Read my review of Sapaio’s wines.

Latest reports – Tuscan Harvest Watch
Alessandro Nannelli, Podere Sapaio, Bolgheri, 2 November 2020

The harvest having finished, the wines are already partly in barriques and, while some of them are just finishing the malolactic conversion, it is time to take stock of this year.  In Bolgheri, the spring was good with a rainy May and the rest of the season was regular.  A very mild summer, which we have not had for a while, allowed a slow and regular maturation.  

The harvest at Podere Sapaio began on 2 September with the Merlot and finished with the Cabernet Franc on 2 October. The average production for the estate was around six tons per hectare. 

The grapes were healthy with very healthy skins. They are very full of flavour with a level of phenolic maturation well balanced by ripe sugar levels. This is also reflected in elegant wines with an excellent structure.  

The wines of 2020 will also give us satisfaction! 

Marco Capitoni, Capitoni, Val d’Orcia, 28 October 

Here is our harvest reported through the lens of Sofia Rosamilia. 

It is the time to relax after very full days and now have the pleasure of sharing with you our pictures.

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 27 October

At Caparsa the 2020 vintage is showing great quality: the skins are really thick and healthy and thus the good assumptions are there to see.  We started the harvest about two weeks earlier than normal and this choice was rewarded: two days before we finished we had an incredible downpour with hail, which nonetheless had little influence on quality as we were able to finish the harvest in two days. The changes to the climate are powerfully influencing the maturation and the quality of the grapes. 

Caparsa in autumn

The must (fermenting grape juice) is still fermenting and more than half of it is still to be racked off. This year we chose to do a maceration of 40 days on the lees for half of the production: each year we adopt new approaches in the way we choose to produce the wine.  

Autumn colours are beginning to dominate these days.  

Marco Capitoni, Capitoni, Val d’Orcia 12 ottobre

The harvest of 2020 is completed. Now, having collected the last bunch of grapes and drawn breath, we can say that we have a very, very good vintage in the winery.
Very low yields, particularly of Sangiovese, and a favourable climate have enabled the fruit to reach optimal maturity.
The musts, fermenting wine, are rich, intense, perfumed …

Andrea Contucci, Contucci, Montepulciano, 12 ottobre 

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 2 October

The harvest is finished! We had a real fright on 24 September because there was a massive rain storm with a bit of hail which made us anxious. But we managed to finish in a couple of days and all’s well that ends well. This year, 2020, was marked by an early harvest but the grapes are healthy and with firm skins which allows us to say that the quality will be more than excellent.
Harvested Sangiovese

As usual, the harvest is a very demanding period and it is imperative to respect nature’s tempo, especially for organic wines. In the photo, we have the last load and the video shows pumping over in order to aerate the wine that is fermenting.

Greetings to all readers!

Andrea Contucci, Contucci, Montepulciano, 30 settembre

We started the harvest on Monday. Last week’s rain, fortunately, did not do any damage and the grapes are looking good and healthy. As I already said, it will be a short harvest, the 2020 production will not be great but the quality of Vino Nobile will certainly be high. If the weather helps us out, for the moment it is beautifully sunny with a good day/night temperature difference, we ought to complete the harvest by the end of next week.  

Marco Capitoni, Capitoni, Val d’Orcia 19 September

The BERRY in the centre …The ripeness is going well, in days we will begin the harvest with maximum attention to the ‘precise moment’ for picking.

The evening of the night before, the equipment is prepared, tomorrow we will begin the harvest. A great feeling, which each year renews itself, and grows and grows and grows … The skins of the grapes are velvet-like, the flesh is sweet and the pips are ripe when you bite them!!

Our harvest has officially ‘gone live’.
Carla Benini, Sassotondo, Pitigliano, 12 September 
Hello David, what a crazy year!
After the total blockade finished in June, everything kicked off here and, fortunately, we worked very, very hard. Of course, I am talking about welcoming private clients and wine sales because, it is banal to say so, the vineyard never halted.
The weather before harvest: a relatively dry winter as was spring, summer was hot and dry … a few downpours in June (with hail of course) but the vines were balanced. The end of summer was cool with great diurnal range, even if the heat returned on some days.
We have begun to harvest the Sauvignon Blanc and the Merlot. They were ripe but we only picked about 60 per cent of the envisaged amount. Why? The summer drought has reduced the weight of the fruit and,the most important thing, set off the hunger and thirst of the wildlife that inhabit our vineyards in an uncontrollable manner, especially the roe deer and wild boar. The quadruple electric fence could do little against the drought! Then we will stop for a few days.
Tomorrow, Monday, we will pick the Teroldego (which, as you know, is my totemic grape variety in that we share Trentino blood) and a small amount of the Ciliegielo (which is simply my grape variety and that is it) which the animals have started to attack.
The grapes are lovely and plump, with a good balance of sugar and acidity, with likely high potential alcohol.  
I am sending you a few photos and I will keep you updated…
Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 9 September

An epoch-making vintage. The harvest of 2020 will be remembered forever.  Both for Covid and for the development of the season, at least here in Radda in Chianti, that has been–and continues to be–fantastic. 

A rainy spring, and a hot and light-filled summer, a perfect beginning to September and, above all, maniacal attention to the vineyard of Caparsa (also helped by lockdown that allowed us to dedicate time to it), have all resulted in grapes which are super balanced, without ever any stress from lack of water or from heat and without any extreme weather events.  Naturally, everything will depend on the coming weeks, but the signs are nonetheless exceptional.  

At the moment, we are completing the leaf removal in the vineyards, which will reduce the risk of attack by botrytis. 

The epoch-making harvest ought to be between the end of September and the beginnings of October.  

Andrea Contucci, Montepulciano, 7 September

Here are some photos of the vineyards, the grapes are beautiful. It will be a harvest of small volume but very good quality. We will begin on 20 September. When we are in the harvest, I will send you other photos.

Marco Capitoni, Val d’Orcia, 24 August 2020

Here are my first thoughts on this year:
Winter and spring were characterised by a significant drought. The higher than average temperatures led to an early start to the vegetative re-awakening. At the beginning of June, there were some helpful days of rain which in part compensated for the lack of water.

These conditions, little rain and low humidity, meant that we carried out a limited number of treatments to control disease. Low humidity and high temperatures continued in July and part of August.
Last week we had a helpful downpour (36 mm of rain), the vines immediately taking advantage, the foliage regained vigour and the ripening of the bunches began to proceed in a steady way.
We will keep you updated.

Alessandro Nannelli, Podere Sapaio, Bolgheri, 19 August 2020

With regard to the 2020 season, I will write a few lines on Bolgheri.

The autumn and November, in particular, was marked by a lot of rain events that topped up the subterranean water table.  The autumn was mild which along with the abundant water reserves brought an early vegetative growth compared to the local average. 

Spring was standard but was marked by late frost until the end of April which resulted in the loss of some productive shoots, especially on the early varieties. 

June was a complicated month in terms of protecting the vineyards due to the rain, though this was also a benefit for the state of the vineyards. This phenomenon was also apparent in the month of July with very low temperatures in the first 25 days which led to a slowing down of the maturation of the grapes. In turn, this led to the forecast for the time of the harvest to be around the average for Bolgheri.  

How is the harvest of 2020 shaping up? At the moment, we can say that the quality looks very good and, with regard to volume, not abundant but around the average for the producers.  As a result, if nature is on our side, it will be a great year in Bolgheri.  

Winery profiles

Paola da BlasiI Veroni, Pontassieve, Chianti Rufina

Winefriend on I Veroni – attractive Rufina

Paolo Cianferoni in vendemmiaCaparsa, Radda, Chianti Classico

Winefriend on Caparsa – Chianti vertical

Tuscan Harvest 2020 Podere Sapaio, Bolgheri 
Winefriend on Sapaio – Podere Sapaio: two great Caberet-based blends
IMG_0219Massa Vecchia, Massa Marittima
Winefriend on Special places: Massa Vecchia
Tuscan Harvest Watch producers
Tuscan Harvest 2020Cantine Contucci, Montepulciano
Winefriend on Cantucci: at the heart of Montepulciano
Tuscan Harvest 2020Gianni Brunelli, Montalcino
Winefriend on: Gianni (and Laura) Brunelli
Tuscan Harvest 2020Capitoni, Pienza, Val d’Orcia
Winefriend on Capitoni: Mixed farming and viticulture
Tuscan Harvest 2020Sassotondo, Pitigliano
Winefriend on Sassotondo – retreat to the land

Tuscany: the featured wineries

Tuscan Harvest 2020

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