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  Editorial Issue 163, June 2017   
Frozen VineyardsFrozen Vineyards  Contents 
Issue 162, May 2017 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 164, Summer 2017

Frozen Vineyards


 The joyous moment when a bottle of wine is uncorked and it is poured into glasses, is the fruit not only of grapes but also of countless factors and events. Fruit of hard work beginning in the vineyard and ending in the bottle. Vineyard, the place where everything originates from, is cause of many worries for every vintner. It can in fact be said most of the worries takes their origin from the vineyard. It is no secret, in fact, sound and quality grapes make - with no tricks or magic - wines of remarkable quality; with bad quality grapes can be made - in the best case - mediocre wines. For this reason, understandable and fundamental, every vintner is forced to always be attentive and aware of what it is happening in the vineyard, knowing very well that, in case of need, he or she must quickly do something. Neglecting a vineyard, or delaying a necessary treatment, means compromising the quality of the wine to come.


 

 It should however be said a vintner does not have the power of omnipotence. There are in fact events and conditions for which can be found a remedy, whereas in other cases all the vintner can do is to stand helplessly while watching what it is happening in the vineyard and suffering the consequences, even serious ones. It is about events, more or less exceptional, caused by the will of Mother Nature that, like everyone knows, can be both generous and evil. It can be in fact easily imagined, at the end of 1800s, the desolation of vintners who were helplessly watching their vineyards dying without even knowing anything about the cause. As it is commonly known, many years will pass before understanding the responsible of such a devastation was a tiny aphid to which was given - among the many things - the significant name of Phylloxera Vastatrix and that will change viticulture in Europe forever.

 Phylloxera, just like every living species, certainly is part of Nature, despite its effects are not evidently positive for Vitis Vinifera, that is the vine giving grapes for making wine. It should be said the main responsible for that devastation was not Nature but man who introduced - although unintentionally - phylloxera to Europe. Man was the responsible for that environmental alteration Nature did not create and the result was catastrophic as to completely change the cultivation of vine in Europe. Man was however capable to find a remedy to that terrible event and, there is no doubt about this, the risk was very high: “all is well that ends well”. Vintners are however called to face the adversities of vine - as this is an unrepeatable and unique value - by trying to find a remedy as much as possible. This is what virtually happens from the moment of pruning to harvesting, while relying on Mother Nature's benevolence and the possibility to find a remedy.

 It is not always possible to find a remedy for the more or less extraordinary events happening in the course of the season and consequences can be even catastrophic and may compromise harvesting and, therefore, profits. This is what happened last April when in Italy exceptional meteorological conditions caused a serious frost with grave consequences for Italian agriculture. Damages have been reported in many Italian regions, not only vineyards, but also orchards and plantings of vegetables. Moreover, in some areas have also been reported damages caused by strong wind and hail. A preliminary estimate of damages determined a loss - in certain cases - as high as 80% for the harvesting to come. The frost, with its drastic lowering in temperature below zero, has literally burnt the young buds of plants right in the moment of blossoming. The consequence is obvious: when the flower dies, the plant will not give any fruit.

 According to the figures reported by Coldiretti (Italian Confederation of Agriculturists) damages caused by the frost can be more than one hundred million euros. As for damages reported in Italian vineyards, there are many producers who have suffered of a remarkable loss and they are supposed to suffer a loss of even 80% less than past years. The frost hit Northern and Central Italy, down to Campania, including Sardinia. The production of grapes in these regions will unavoidably be affected by the effect of last April's frost and in many areas wine production will be drastically limited. This means wines of vintage 2017 will be produced with grapes harvested from vines saved, or partially saved, from the frost. According to what producers said the days following the frost, many of them have suffered serious loss from this catastrophic meteorological event.

 Nature gives, Nature takes away. Generous when it gives, severe when takes away. This is something agriculturists know very well - and, of course, vintners too - who are facing every year such conditions, in the edge of hoping for the best harvest and the fear of seeing the hard work of an entire season ruined in moments. It is however impossible not to note that in recent years we are seeing drastic climate changes and they have direct consequences on everyone's life, not just in agriculture. Coldiretti's esteems report climate changes happening in Italy in the past years have caused damages for about fourteen billions euros. The proof we should certainly consider the consequences of our actions, most of the times selfish and not so respectful for the future. I would like to express - for the little it gives - my understanding and comprehension for vintners and agriculturists of Italy, wishing them all they will however be capable of giving us a great vintage. For what they can, with what they have, for the best they can. As usual.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 163, June 2017   
Frozen VineyardsFrozen Vineyards  Contents 
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