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  Editorial Issue 153, Summer 2016   
2016: The Coming Grape2016: The Coming Grape  Contents 
Issue 152, June 2016 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 154, September 2016

2016: The Coming Grape


 In the past recent years, at least in Italy, it seems the old Italian saying “the seasons of the past are gone forever” is quite appropriate to the meteorological condition of the country. By considering the bizarre springtime we had this year, it seems we are living in a tropical country instead of Italy. Let's hope summer will be more clement and may give a more regular and coherent season. In case it should repeat what happened in springtime, vintners and farmers will have more than one reason to be concerned of. Rains and storms have characterized most of springtime, with temperature ranging from cold to humid heat. By still considering the old wisdom of our Country, it seems we can certainly say “springtime and autumn are not what they used to be”. Meteorologists said that, by considering the quantity of water of springtime's rains, this seems to be normal. The point, however, is the concentration and the intensity of rains which looked like flooding instead of springtime rains.


 

 Temperature has been as much bizarre as the rain. In particular in April, in that period in which vines start budding and resume their vegetative activity. In certain areas of Italy - as well as in some parts of Europe - there have been frosts which damaged vineyards. In Burgundy and Loire, in particular, last April's frost has literally burnt buds of vines which were about to become grapes. This means that, in the areas affected by this frost, it will be likely the vegetative activity will delay as plants will have to bear new buds, in case they are in the proper condition to do so. In these areas, unavoidably, harvesting will be delayed in order to let the new buds to come to full ripeness, in case summer and autumn meteorological conditions will be favorable.

 Italy too has been affected by the unexpected cold temperature in April and the regions to have complained the worst damages in vineyards have been Abruzzo and Molise. In some cases, vintners have declared that, because of the damages in their vineyards, it is likely that, for them, vintage 2016 will be quite limited. It is not over, of course. Summer is about to come and, provided it will not follow the bizarre springtime weather, there is still good hope and possibility to recover. Every farmer and vintner know one must always look at the sky. Not for praising a divine intervention, indeed to prevent the effects of weather. This is of course possible in case of “benevolent” and controllable meteorological events, of course not in case of very bad and devastating events, such as hail and, of course, frosts.

 The abundant rains in springtime have forced vintners to properly take measures against downy mildew and powdery mildew. These two diseases are in fact particularly active from the second half of springtime to the first part of summer, when grape bunches start to develop. Prevention measures against these two diseases consist in applying copper sulfate for downy mildew and sulfur for powdery mildew. The use of these two substances is by many considered as traditional - therefore acceptable - while noticing there also are other remedies considered by others less harmful for the environment. We should in fact consider despite copper sulfate is an effective remedy against downy mildew, it is however a heavy metal and when applied to a vineyard it is absorbed by the soil as well.

 Rain, fog and wide temperature changes are the cause of humidity and therefore mold. To tell the truth, it is too early to be concerned about mold, however it can be something to cause problems when bunches are fully developed and are about to get to full ripeness. In case summer would be bizarre like springtime, mold will unavoidably be a serious risk for harvesting, in particular in September. It should be noticed the presence of mold, when it gets developed in particular conditions, is always welcome in vineyards of those producers who make the so called “botrytized wines”, while it is a curse for the rest. It should also be noticed not all grapes are affected the same by the mold, as in those having a thick skin the effects are vain and negligible. The same cannot be said for those varieties having a thin skin, such as the many grapes belonging to the numerous family of Malvasie, widely found in Italy.

 We only need to be confident about summer to be coherent with its nature because we have already seen rains and cold temperatures quite a lot in this springtime. Vines certainly have huge water reserve in the deep from which roots can benefit from. This means - in case summer will be sultry and dry - roots can take water from the deep of soil. The abundant springtime rains, as well as low temperatures, will certainly play a role in the vegetative cycle of vines and would determine a delay in ripeness of grapes and therefore harvesting. We need to hope for a regular summer and not so bizarre like springtime while wishing 2016 may give us excellent wines. My thoughts, I admit it, are with all the vintners who, understandably, this summer will continue looking at the sky, wishing themselves to harvest extraordinary grapes and then to give us, once again, amazing emotions with their wines.

Antonello Biancalana






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  Editorial Issue 153, Summer 2016   
2016: The Coming Grape2016: The Coming Grape  Contents 
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