Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Tuscan harvest 2013

Tuscan harvest watch 2013

Sangiovese TrebbianoWelcome 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 four seasons of Tuscan Harvest Watch, the reports on the Tuscan Grape Harvest 2013 will appear here.

Many thanks to the wineries that have agreed to let us know how the harvest is proceeding and the 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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2013 – a mixed season with a short, dry summer resulted in wines of good quality. A wet and cold spring was followed by some hail storms in June.  August and September were fine with some light rain at harvest and late picking areas (eg Radda) had to avoid early October heavy rain.

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Francesco Gagliardi, Campo alla Sughera, Bolgheri, 6 November 2013

We finished the harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon in the first week of October. The grapes were perfectly mature and we decided not to press on with maturation of some plots, completing the harvest on 4 October in order to avoid the heavy rains which were forecast in the following days. These would have put the health of the grapes at risk with a threat to both quality and quantity.

With regard to quantity it is a average harvest: the yield in the vineyard was already very well balanced and therefore we reduced to the minimum the thinning out of grapes during July. With regard to quality, it is too early to come to a definitive judgement as the red wines are still going through the malolactic fermentation in barriques. Based on first impressions we can certainly speak of a good year in which we benefitted from very favourable conditions which are not very frequent here on the Tuscan coast – with day-night temperature variation between 28-30 degrees in the day and down to 15 degrees at night.

As a result we look forward positively for the evolution of the wine.

Francesca Sfondrini, Massa Vecchia, Massa Marittima, 6 November 2013

We finished the harvest on 20 October … and are allowing the white grapes to dry out for a Passito style wine. Today we racked off the final dry wine … but the work in the winery still has a long way to go. This week it feels as though – after two months of humid weather – the Scirroco winds are leaving us to the mercy of the north wind … and are drying us out too!

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 3 November 2013

rows at the end of harvest The harvest is finished and we have already siphoned off the wine. It has been a particularly difficult year but with a little good fortune and real attention to timeliness in all our vineyard operations we have been successful in producing great Sangiovese wine. With great fortune September, the absolutely vital month in Radda in Chianti for the maturation of this variety, was particularly beautiful, with the result that the vines responded very well. The other good fortune was to have started to pick on 1st October (having anticipated it would be 7th October). In this way we hit a good ‘window’ of fine weather which allowed us to harvest the grapes most at risk and then follow them with the ripest grapes, without finding any particular problems with rot (botrytis). By contrast, after 7th October there was high humidity, rain and wet foliage with high temperatures which favoured the growth of rot. As a result I am very content and we will see the results in 2017!

Paola de Blasi, I Veroni, Chianti Rufina, 29 October 2013

We have finally finished the harvest which has been long, difficult but very satisfying. At the end of September the Sangiovese still needed a bit of time in order to fully express the combination of its softness and tannic nature. Just at the point when it was ready a big storm was on the point of arriving. This led to a frantic period of activity to save both the quality and quantity. We had begun to harvest the Merlot which was perfect in taste and in maturity and we chose the bunches of the top portions of the Sangiovese for the rosé.

We protected the Sangiovese bunches with metabisuphite as they were showing some signs of the onset of mould here and there. After the storm had passed, some beautiful sunny days arrived which dried out the grapes and enabled the Sangiovese to ripen as well. In the winery the indigenous yeasts have worked very well and without any problems, aided by just yeast nutrients to add body. The quality appears to be much superior to recent years – we are very hopeful and are letting the yeasts do their work…. At the end of the harvest we also picked the bunches of Malvasia, Trebbiano, Canaiolo and Sangiovese in our oldest vineyard which we have left to dry out in the Vin Santo loft where they will stay until March.

Francesca Sfondrini, Massa Vecchia, Massa Marittima, 15 October 2013

We are still behind with the harvest … this year the weather have been a little rascal … but we are very happy and enthusiastic about the prospect of a good crop. Hurrah!

This season has been like those ten years ago … in other words cooler and the grapes have been able to ripen steadily in comparison to the recent years in which they suffered from the heat and the picking was 15 days in advance.

Andrea Contucci, Cantine Contucci, Montepulciano, 11 October 2013

Here are the final pictures of our 2013 harvest.

We are in the Sarco zone, close to the Mulinvecchio vineyard which you may remember is of our two Crus. (The other is called Pietra Rossa.) In the pictures you will see the grapes for the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The harvest finished today with grapes of very good quality. We note a 10% fall in production in comparison with normal years. A cold spring and small amount of hail in June led to this reduction.

The weather during the harvest has been clement. It was only on last Saturday and Monday 30 September that we had to pause. On all the other days we have harvested on a regular basis and therefore in perfect weather to get the grapes to the winery in the best conditions. 2013 will also deliver a lovely Vino Nobile.

Warm greetings and until the next time!

Marco Capitoni di Capitoni, Pienza, Val d’Orcia, 5 Ottobre 2013

The lovely days of August and September along with our work on the vines have allowed the grapes to reach a good level of maturation. Last week we harvested a small amount of Merlot. While today we have started to pick Sangiovese choosing those parts of the vineyard where, due to their location and clonal varieties, there is a greater risk of the onset of rot. Unfortunately, it is just beginning to rain and the forecast is not good for the coming days. We are not in the best of moods but it can’t be otherwise in a year in which the way the season developed was rarely what we wanted. In the hope that the weather will change I will send you another update.

Andrea Contucci, Cantine Contucci, Montepulciano, 4 October 2013

Here you see the arrival of the grapes for the Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, good quality Sangiovese and Canaiolo Nero, having been picked in our vineyards to the south of Montepulciano (Sant’Albino).

As you can see, our international visitors are celebrating the new harvest with us.

Further pictures of the Nobile Vineyards (north zone, Salarco) which we will pick tomorrow. You can see beautiful bunches of Sangiovese (here called Prugnolo Gentile) and Colorino.

We may have three days of light rain from tomorrow. As a result I will send you the next batch of photos in the middle of next week, the last of the 2013 harvest.

Francesco Gagliardi, Campo alla Sughera, Bolgheri, 3 October 2013

I am sending you another update on the harvest. Until the second part of September, the maturation of the grapes and the accumulation of sugars had proceeded very gradually. From the second half of September on we noticed an acceleration of the maturation which enabled us to complete the harvesting of the Merlot by 20 September. This was 15 days behind the hot years of 2011 and 2012.

The harvest then continued with the Petit Verdot on 24-25 September and we completed the picking of the Cabernet Franc on 26-27th. The Cabernet Franc was picked about a week later than 2011-12 while for the Petit Verdot the dates were pretty much the same as in those years. The quality of the fruit is again very satisfactory with thick skins and in an excellent state of health. For the grapes picked up until now show a good acidity and in relation to the accumulation of sugars in the region of 250/255 g/l which should lead to a good balance in the future wines.

At this point there remains just the harvesting of the Cabernet Sauvignon which is very close to full maturity.

From the graphs shown here, it is clear that in the second half of September we benefitted from enviable conditions with no substantial rain, mild temperatures during the day and significant day-night temperature variation.

Day night temperature

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Image 9

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Carla Benini, Sassotondo, Pitigliano, 3 October 2013

We have started picking the reds and some Trebbiano in the best exposed and driest zones. We have dealt with the Merlot (not much this year), the Teroldego and have started the Ciliegiolo with the Regina vineyard. When this is finished we will have a brief pause. The Sangiovese has a bit to go still, the Ciliegiolo is virtually perfect. The weather has been exceptional up to this point. It will rain on Saturday and Sunday but the grapes are really in top condition and this doesn’t worry me.

I attach some photos and the link for my Facebook page where I put all sorts of things.

Andrea Contucci of Cantine Contucci, Montepulciano, 26 September 2013

Today we have begun the harvest and as always we commence with the best white grapes to make the Vin Santo from the Malvasia, Grechetto and Trebbiano varieties. There is not a big volume of grapes due to the wet and cold spring but the bunches are reasonably open but the quality is good.

From next week we will start to harvest the red grapes, Sangiovese, Canaiolo Nero and Colorino and I will send some more photos then.

This fantastic September has been great for the grapes enabling them to recover completely from being behind the season early on. In fact we are now completely in line with other normal years. The Sangiovese and the Montepulciano is picked in the first days of October and that is what will happen this year!

Paola de Blasi, I Veroni, Chianti Rufina, 20 September 2013

Here is our update after the extremely unusual years of 2011 and 2012 with their tropical temperatures.

This year has finally seen a season which should allow the perfect maturation of our Sangiovese. 2013 from a climatic point of view has been very difficult with copious rain followed by very hot days, perfect for diseases like downy mildew. This year we have become organic and therefore the battle with disease was difficult but due to great work by hand on the green canopy, we have managed to successfully produce healthy and beautiful grapes. Now it is just a matter of crossing our fingers.

Francesco Gagliardo, Campo alla Sughera, Bolgheri, 16 September 2013



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Our harvest started on 9th September with the picking of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay. The harvest took place two weeks behind in comparison with the harvests of 2011 and 2012. In the week before picking began the grapes benefitted from ideal weather conditions with mild temperatures during the days (28-30 centigrade) and marked day – night temperature differences (night time values of 15-17 degrees).

Day - night temperature, 1-15 September
Day – night temperature, 1-15 September
Rainfall 1-15 September
Rainfall 1-15 September

These conditions allowed a gradual accumulation of sugar and the maintenance of excellent acidity and pH.

With regard to the red grapes we began the picking of some parcels of Merlot between 10th and 13th September. The maturation of the red grapes has proceeded very slowly but the berries have remained perfectly healthy and have very thick skins. We are seeking to put off the harvest of the early varieties as much as possible in order to obtain the maximum possible phenolic maturity.

At this stage we have yet to harvest some further Merlot and all the Cabernet Franc, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Petit Verdot.

The development of the rest of the season over the coming weeks will therefore be very important for the quality of the future harvest even if the healthy status of the bunches and the compactness of the skins gives us hope. I attach the two charts of the temperature and the precipitation for the month of September from our weather station.

Campo alla Sughera press release, Bolgheri, 9th September 2013
Harvest 2013

Campo alla Sughera is getting ready for the harvest which will begin tomorrow in a climate which promises much: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot have benefitted from ideal meteorological conditions and a perfect day night temperature difference.

‘The climate has helped us this year’ – says Mauro Carrara, the agronomist at Campo alla Sughera – ‘the bunches have not been stressed, they are heavier and have matured later. The quantity is in line with the 2012 vintage. Due to a particularly mild climate the grapes have an excellent balance between sugars and acidity. The condition of the grapes and the first analyses are favourable but of course we will wait for the results of the first vinification for a definitive view. We can report again in a fortnight’.

In the meantime we toast the beginning of a bountiful and prosperous harvest!

Carla Benini, Sassotondo, Pitigliano, 30 August 2013

An update at the end of August. Everything is going well! I am breathing a sigh of relief as a short but very dry summer has prevented the possible bad effects which could have affected the grape bunches hit by hail. There has been a small loss of quantity but the quality today is excellent. In some places during the harvest we could still work further to remove the dried remnants of the damage.

The signs are for a cool and dry September, the vines have stopped growing (as they should do), we are about a week behind in comparison with recent harvests but everything makes me hope for a harvest like 2010, one of my favourites! (If you have the time, Edoardo made a wonderful record of that harvest, which you can find on YouTube.) White pepper and lots of perfume, grapes which are bursting with health… yumm! I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 25 August 2013

As is shown in the attached graph of the average temperatures over the last 30 days, there is a noticeably high day-night temperature differential at Caparsa. This leads us to think that there will be maturation with marked and fine aromatic Sangiovese characteristics for the harvest which here will take place in October. The rainfall (see the other graph) also seems to be very much in harmony with the prospect for a slow and steady maturation here at 450 metres at the heart of the Chianti hills.

precipitazioni ultimi 30 gg Caparsatemperature medie ultimi 30 gg Caparsa
Francesco Gagliardi, Campo alla Sughera, Bolgheri, 23 August 2013

Here is some information about our harvest even if at the moment it is difficult to give an accurate forecast because we do not yet have the data from our field samples. But it is reasonable to assume that we will start with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc at the end of August and the first days of September, and the Merlot will follow in the first and second weeks of September.

The harvest will probably be one or two weeks behind last year. The grapes are healthy at the moment and the yield in the vineyard is low. If the weather remains stable and without excessive rainfall, there is every promise of a vintage of excellent quality.

Carla Benini, Sassotondo, Pitigliano, 30 July 2013

I can confirm that this has been a very difficult year. I am already on my fifteenth treatment with copper and sulphur but it is only now that the vegetative vigour of the vineyard is beginning to slow down. Only the Ciliegiolo and Trebbiano varieties are beginning to show signs of turning colour.

The pictures also show the effects of May and June’s hail. In addition to big changes in temperature, this has probably led to a reduction of the size of the crop. There was a terrible hail storm on 18th July (see picture). The vineyards here at Sovana were not badly damaged but the one at San Lorenzo, at Pitigliano, was badly hit. It is in two parts, one of which seems OK while in the other I will have to work very hard in the harvest to remove the dried grapes from within the bunches – the individual grapes which were hit dry out – fortune within misfortune! Now it is hot and dry. When the grapes turn colour we know what to expect from the harvest. PS the picture of the calendar records the predictions which my sister made at the beginning of the year!

Paolo Cianferoni, Caparsa, Radda in Chianti, 28 July 2013

This year’s spring was marked by abundant rain, humidity and temperatures very much below the average. This resulted in a start of the growing season rather behind that of the last ten to fifteen years, but without the dangerous frosts which from time to time destroy new buds. The vine has had an exceptional access to water and all the microorganisms, bacteria and minerals present in the vineyard were activated early on. Above all the organic and mineral elements were accessible to the vines while the climatic conditions were favourable. This had positive effects, especially over recent days, from 22 July onwards, when the heat finally arrived with temperatures above 33 centigrade. I attach the temperature and the rainfall graphs from here at Caparsa for the 30 days until 18 July which show this pattern.

caparsa foto vigna al 27_7_2013

Attack by downy mildew has been limited by the application of copper-based treatment up to the acceptable limits. The lower parts of the vineyards have been more affected of course but the compensation has been that there has been a smaller proportion of the bunches which have been affected. This year’s work has been particularly difficult and demanding. Right up to today there has not been a Saturday or Sunday without work. In organic agriculture it is impossible to relax your control, watchfulness and interventions without losing production and quality. There has been some good fortune as well – for example, we were not hit by the hail here at Caparsa.

As a result at the present time, I am very happy and believe we can have a great year. I attach a photo of the vineyard taken on 27 July.

Marco Capitoni of Capitoni, Pienza, Val d’Orcia, 28 July 2013


If I am truthful, thinking back over my vintages, I cannot recall one in which I was not in a state of some apprehension. Of course one feels very different in the seasons which are going well, in contrast to the last few months when the rain seems to have been the only thing which we could expect. In reality, for us farmers, we know that to a large extent the results of our labour are independent of our wishes. That is to say, that in order to moderate the effects of the seasons – which seem to get more and more capricious – we have done everything possible that could have been done.

We have had to intervene more than usual, eight treatments instead of the usual five or six, with copper derivatives, in order to protect the bunches and the leaves from the attacks of peronosora (downy mildew) which has been particularly aggressive in the frequent humidity.

In such a rainy season it has been incredibly demanding – given that we don’t treat chemically – to control the invading weeds, while avoiding trampling the soil too much. The aim is to maintain the structure of the soil (open and well drained) in order to guarantee the necessary aeration around the roots.

Then, as if our vines (and our mood) needed further difficulties, we were affected by hail on the 26th June. It hit one side of the rows in particular while on the other side the bunches have not been damaged. In the coming weeks we will decide whether to remove the affected section as part of the green harvest.

At the current time the bunches have not begun to change colour. If we compare this with recent years, we are slightly behind with the maturation. Nonetheless I am sure that we can have a good harvest. The vines have luxurious foliage and an excellent water supply. Taking into account the bounty of the months of August and September and having made the appropriate selection, we will be able to bring quality grapes into the winery.

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
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
Tuscan harvest 2013Cantine Contucci, Montepulciano
Winefriend on Cantucci: at the heart of Montepulciano
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Winefriend on: Gianni (and Laura) Brunelli
Tuscan harvest 2013Capitoni, Pienza, Val d’Orcia
Winefriend on Capitoni: Mixed farming and viticulture
Tuscan harvest 2013Sassotondo, Pitigliano
Winefriend on Sassotondo – retreat to the land

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Tuscan harvest 2013

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