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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 187, September 2019   
2019: a Lower Quantity Harvest However of Quality2019: a Lower Quantity Harvest However of Quality  Contents 
Issue 186, Summer 2019 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on Twitter 

2019: a Lower Quantity Harvest However of Quality


 In this period of year, wineries are about to scrupulously get ready to one of the key events of the entire season: harvesting. To tell the truth, there are already many wineries that have begun the important work of harvesting grapes, not only those that are mainly involved with the production of sparkling wines but also, and above all, those of southern Italy. The summer, which is now about to come to the end, has definitely been the factor that more than any other has determined the fate of vineyards, one of the hottest seasons of the last decades. The trend of this summer 2019, in fact, has been rather bizarre as, in addition to the sultry and torrid heat, there have also been copious torrential rains and hail, with severe damage to crops in the affected areas. In addition, September weather report forecasts again rainfall and thunderstorms: it is not exactly good news for those who are busy with the grape harvesting in this month.


 

 A meteorological scenario which is more similar to the one in the tropical areas of the world rather than those of the Mediterranean area. The severity of the summer heat has, however, caused many difficulties to vintners, in particular for the vineyards which, having to face long periods of drought, the poor vines had to sustain important conditions of water suffering. All this inevitably led to a lower production of grapes due to the difficulties sustained by the vines in their biological cycle. The first estimates, in fact, suggest a lower production compared to 2018, however many have been emphasized that, in qualitative terms, the grapes are healthy and giving high hopes for the wines of vintage 2019. However, it is just about estimates and predictions – something happening every year – with the aim of making a sensation about the quality of a product that does not yet exist. The confirmation or the denial, inevitably and as always, will be unequivocally decreed by the glasses when the bottles of this vintage will be uncorked in 2020.

 Of course, this year, just like the past ones, could not miss the eternal challenge “Italy against all” – and, in particular, against France – for the coveted trophy to be won by the country that will make more wine than any other else. Good news for those who care about the fate of this competition: Italy will again be on the top of the podium with an estimated production of between 47 and 49 million hectoliters of wine. Our French cousins, according to the estimates, will only make a quantity of wine between 43 and 46 million hectoliters, while, as for the other cousins of Spain, the estimate stands between 40 and 44 million hectoliters. In all cases – it must be said – the estimates are down compared to 2018 vintage and it must also be noted, in this regard, the last vintage was particularly abundant. Therefore, also for 2019, Italy maintains the primacy on the quantity of wine produced or presumed such.

 The estimates for 2019 harvest, according to Coldiretti and Confagricoltura (the main Italian organizations of agriculturists), confirm Veneto as the main producer in Italy – with 25% of the national total – followed by Apulia with 18%, Emilia Romagna with 17% and Sicily with 8%. As for the destination of the grapes that are being harvested these days in Italy, about 70% is destined to the production of DOCG, DOC and IGT wines. The remaining 30% is instead destined to the production of Vini da Tavola (Table Wines), that is those belonging to the lowest level provided by the Italian quality system. Still on the subject of statistics, in 2019 there are 567 varieties of grapes registered with the “National Register of Vine Varieties” at the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, a number which obviously does not include the clones of the individual varieties. A decidedly considerable number – which is unparalleled all over the world – and which emphasizes the enormous wine-growing heritage and biodiversity of Italy. As a matter of comparison, France has in its territory only 278 distinct varieties.

 Still remaining in the context of the numbers describing Italian viticulture and wine making, according to the data issued by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, in Italy are currently recognized 74 DOCG, 334 DOC and 118 IGT areas. With regard to the production of the Italian vineyard, it has been estimated an average decrease of 6% compared to 2018. The lower production, due to the meteorological and climatic trend of 2019, has been recorded in almost every region of Italy. In particular, Friuli Venezia Giulia recorded a drop of 20%, Umbria -13%, Veneto and Campania -12%, Trentino Alto Adige -11%, Marche -10%, Abruzzo, Liguria and Valle d'Aosta -8%, Piedmont -7.7%, Emilia Romagna and Sardinia -5.5%, Sicily -5%, Lombardy -3.5%. It must be said some regions have instead recorded an increase in production, in particular Latium with +16%, Molise +10%, Calabria +9%, Apulia +2.9%. In any case, viticulture and enology remain an extremely important department for the Italian food industry. In 2019, in fact, there are 300,000 companies having vineyards corresponding to a planted area of 652,000 hectares, of which 50,000 have wine-making facilities, making a total income of around 10 billion euros and an export value of 6.2 billion euros.

 In any case, these data could change in consequence of the meteorological and climatic trend that will characterize the harvesting period – currently underway in many regions and for different styles of wines – and which will certainly continue until October for the late ripening varieties. In fact, weather forecasts predict changes with important rainfall in September, hoping they will not cause harmful events such as hail. Saved the case of inauspicious episodes, the quality of grapes which will enter the wineries seems to be very good, a condition allowing us to wish the production of wines of excellent quality, a news that – of course – makes everyone happy and content. The result of the work of vintners and winemakers will actually become tangible in the spring of 2020, when the first bottles of the 2019 vintage will be uncorked. There will be exceptions, just like every year, for those wines which are ready before the end of the year and that however will give indications about quality. For what we can do, we dearly wish all the very best to winemakers and to all those who are involved in grape harvesting and wine production. Of course, we look forward to toasting with your 2019 wines to your work that is noble and precious. Whatever happens, however it is, it will certainly be a success.

Antonello Biancalana



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  Editorial Issue 187, September 2019   
2019: a Lower Quantity Harvest However of Quality2019: a Lower Quantity Harvest However of Quality  Contents 
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