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  Editorial Issue 78, October 2009   
Harvesting in Time of CrisisHarvesting in Time of Crisis  Contents 
Issue 77, September 2009 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 79, November 2009

Harvesting in Time of Crisis


 Grape harvesting in Italy is now almost done, in many regions of our country the must is now fermenting in the promise of becoming wine. Like every year, also for 2009 there have been predictions about the quality of the forthcoming wines and many told in this year we will have a five stars harvesting. A good news, although - to tell the truth - we are used to news like that: every year it seems we are going to have the “harvesting of the century”, despite it has begun few years ago. Despite the anticipations revealed by these predictions - while wishing they will become true - quality of 2009 vintage will be concretely evaluated in few months, when wines will finally be poured in glasses. A method which certainly is pitiless, but it certainly is reliable and determinant, leaving no room to further considerations or conjectures. And this is true for every harvesting and for every vintage.


 

 Predictions apart, vintage 2009 will also be remembered, besides for its desirable quality, also for the particular time of economic conditions - which certainly are not brilliant - and the world of wine is no exception. Vintage 2009 undoubtedly is a year feeling the effects of the crisis, which will bring with it the difficulties of 2008 which will be added to the unavoidable hard conditions of 2009. Wine is not having a good time, both in sales as well as in production. Italian wine feels the effects of crisis and the situation certainly is not one of the most favorable ones. There are in fact many producers who have just finished harvesting, in other words, they are bringing more grapes in the cellar and are about to make wine, while having the cellar literally full of unsold bottles of vintage 2008. Does this seem to be a problem to be taken lightly? The idea of accumulating other bottles in cellar, with the risk of not selling them all, certainly is an hypothesis alarming every producer.

 Most of the wine belonging to vintage 2008 and destined to “immediate consumption” - therefore most of whites, roses and the so called young reds - is in fact in producers' cellars, unsold and therefore cause of economic loss. The hope of selling them in the next months, that is when the market will ask for young 2009 wines only, is pretty remote. What will become of this wine? It is very likely it will sold to distilleries at very low prices, exclusively interested to the ethyl alcohol they can get from it. After all, this is their job. Crisis characterizing vintage 2009 is not about cellar only, it is also something concerning vineyards, those places in which everything begins and where are set the essential criteria for making a quality wine. A great wine originates from great quality grapes: mediocre grapes give a mediocre wine, even though - in this sense - it may sometimes happen they can make a sort of “miracle” in cellar.

 2009 sees in fact a generalized drop in grape prices, therefore diminishing profits of farms who cultivate grapes and sell them to wineries. According to the Italian associations representing farms, in 2009 there has been a drop of 10% in prices, with evident profit loss for producers. This means, lacking of proper profits, farms which are involved in the cultivation of grapes will be in trouble, and they may also decide to quit their activity or to convert their production to other and more profitable cultures. Despite all that, predictions for 2009 harvesting say production - in terms of quantity - will be almost the same as 2008, even predicting an increase of 5% more than the last year. An amazing paradox, considering the conspicuous quantity of bottles of 2008 wine which are still in cellar and which will be soon full of the new 2009 wine.

 There are in fact many suggesting and encouraging a fall in production, in particular yields in vineyards, a trend which will undoubtedly favor wine quality. After all, does it make any sense to produce a lot of wine when the market is facing a generalized drop in consumption, a drop which is also determined by the crisis of these times? Moreover, are we sure the drop in wine consumption in Italy is exclusively determined by this economic crisis? It certainly has played a substantial role in this, and it is very likely it is not the only one to be responsible. For example, are we sure the campaign done - at the limit of prohibitionism - against the abuse of alcohol for the prevention of the consequences of driving when one is drunk did not have any responsibility? Let's make things clear once again, driving any vehicle after having exaggerated with alcoholic beverages (therefore not only wine!) is something we do condemn and we believe to be deprecable as well as idiot and stupid. The abuse of alcoholic beverages is however and in any case stupid: the best appreciation is always obtained with moderation.

 The logic of terror of punishment has however obtained results, including the drop of sales for wine. In case they would have focused more on culture of wise, moderate and intelligent drinking - instead of forbidding - today things would may have gone differently. Let's be happy of the fact 2009 vintage will be of good quality, at least, by considering the not so good times caused by this crisis, we will have something to be happy for. Like every year, we just need to wait for time to do its patient job on wine, waiting for springtime, season in which we will begin to see and taste the results of the efforts in vineyard and in cellar. And who knows if the drop of grape prices will also bring a drop in prices of 2009 wines? We doubt this to happen, and we will however have to wait for springtime to know. After all, it is in times of crisis the old saying mors tua, vita mea (your death, my life) seems to be true. We will see. For the moment, welcome 2009 harvesting while wishing it will be the beginning - despite the troubles of these times - of a new renaissance for wine and viticulture economy.

 




   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 78, October 2009   
Harvesting in Time of CrisisHarvesting in Time of Crisis  Contents 
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