2010 GROWING YEAR
The growing season began with a long, rainy winter that saw minimum temperatures plunging to historic lows. In fact, on 19 December 2009, the thermometer registered –18C°, the lowest figure in the past 40 years.
These severe temperatures did affect vine budbreak, with sections of the vines, or the entire vine, showing signs of desiccation, particularly in sauvignon blanc. Vine growth was therefore somewhat slow to kick off, some 5-8 days later than usual. Flowering in the early-ripening varieties occurred in damp, rainy conditions, but conditions markedly improved for the flowering of the late-ripeners, such as malvasia istriana, riesling renano, and some of the sauvignon blanc biotypes. Despite less than ideal conditions, fruit set was adequate to good, except for some cultivars of pinot grigio and of sauvignon blanc that derive from Italian biotypes, which exhibited low fertility and consequently excessively-sparse clusters.
Summer brought brief periods of fine weather alternating with stretches of rain, during which temperatures were below seasonal averages.
The only period that seemed truly summer, a relatively dry period with high temperatures, were two weeks centring on 20 July. After that, the weather see-sawed between rains and brief periods of sun, which allowed the emergence of some botrytis infection on the clusters. Beginning on 20 August, the Azores high-pressure system brought fine, stable weather, and cool, nearly dry conditions allowed the grapes to ripen with an impressive balance of aromatic compounds.
Harvest kicked off on 9 September for the early-ripening varieties, but it was interrupted several times by rain, rendering very difficult the organisation of the picking. In fact, the frequent wetting of the clusters brought back some botrytis attacks, and the subsequent necessity of manual selecting healthy clusters and even individual berries slowed down harvesting operations. Harvest concluded in the first days of October with a rush to avoid bad weather and to bring in only sound, healthy fruit. To accomplish this, the winery had to almost double its vineyard crews.
The harvest overall was carried out in almost autumn conditions, with low temperatures that dipped down to 6C°, but these conditions at least had the advantage of maintaining the varietal aromatic qualities of the various grapes.
The vintage can be characterised as one of the least warm and most rainy of recent years, in complete contrast to global warming and its supposedly catastrophic effects. The summertime conditions recall those seen in years such as 1989, 1992, 1996, 1998, and 2005, even though the resultant wines do not demonstrate the same relationships regarding their sensory properties. Without doubt, the most surprising characteristic this year is the extraordinary balance among all of the wines’ expressive qualities, made possible by the notable integration of the fruit component, even if volume on the palate was reduced in comparison with previous years. With respect to yield, we can say that the crop level was quite low, due to lower bud fertility and reduced cluster development. Further, the lower quantity was also a result of meticulous quality selection, which had to be rigorous in order to exclude from fermentation any grapes that were not perfectly healthy and of the highest quality.