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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 232, October 2023   
Waiting for Wine Vintage 2023Waiting for Wine Vintage 2023  Contents 
Issue 231, September 2023 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 233, November 2023

Waiting for Wine Vintage 2023


 Summer is over and we have now entered in autumn, the season typically dedicated to harvesting, when the grapes become must, therefore wine. In truth, the harvest has already started a few weeks ago in various territories, also thanks to the particular weather conditions of this year. Hot summer, very hot indeed, late spring rains and many difficulties in managing the vineyard. So much so that a difficult harvest is expected, especially regarding the quantity of grapes that will be brought to the winery. The expected decrease in quantities, compared to 2022, is not solely determined by the weather of spring and summer. It must be said, in fact, that the difficulties in the vineyard were also caused by vine pathologies – especially downy mildew, favored by the rains and consequent humidity of May and June – and which affected the production of the grapes, especially in the vineyards of central and southern Italy. As if that wasn't enough, in certain areas the vineyards were also affected by powdery mildew and flavescence dorée, and last but not least, also hail with decidedly worrying consequences.


 

 The previsions for the 2023 harvest in Italy are not very positive – however not worrying – at least in terms of quantity. In fact, a 12% drop is expected compared to 2022, with wine production estimated at around 43 million hectoliters, less than 44 for sure. According to previsions, the central and southern regions will record the greatest loss in Italy, while for those in the north the situation is generally positive. In fact, an increase of 5% is expected in Veneto and 15% in Lombardy, in contrast with -2% in Piedmont and -4.5% in Emilia-Romagna. In central Italy the situation is decidedly more critical, in particular -40% in Abruzzo, -25% in Marches, -20% in Tuscany and Lazio. Double-digit production drops are also expected in the southern regions, in particular -30% in Sicily and Apulia.

 This is, of course, the prevision updated in September and which could be proven wrong, considering the harvest will continue for a good part of October, in certain and particular cases, even at the beginning of November. In fact, further conditions could arise – meteorological, first of all – which could even worsen the expected estimates, which, evidently, we hope not to happen. Should unfavorable weather conditions occur – above all, heavy rain and, worse, hail – we will probably have to consider an even more negative scenario. Without considering that, in that case, other inconveniences would be added to the existing ones and which certainly did not contribute to the serenity of the vintners, such as downy mildew and flavescence dorée. An eventuality, the latter, that no one can obviously predict, and however can only hope to not happen. What is certain, the estimates made by the previsions will not improve even with the best weather conditions, therefore it is better to immediately take them into consideration.

 As for quality, the grapes that have not suffered the effects of downy mildew can be considered to be of excellent quality, in accordance with what has been reported by the vintners who have already brought their harvest to the winery, in particular the producers of sparkling wines and from early ripening grapes. The picture emerging from the previsions made by various trade associations, however, shows one of the worst years in an absolute sense in terms of quantity, already defined as “the worst of the century”, or at least, for its first 23 years. According to expectations, Italy will drop below 44 million hectoliters of produced wine, leaving France in the lead in production with around 45 million hectoliters, corresponding to a decrease of 2% compared to 2022. Third place is expected for Spain, with an estimated production of 36.5 million hectoliters, corresponding to -11% compared to 2022. The estimated production drop for Italy, as already mentioned, is expected to be around -12%.

 In this regard, the most critical condition of wine production has already been recorded for organic viticulture wineries, for which – in certain regions of Italy – even a drop of 50% compared to 2022 is estimated. The main responsible for this decrease, as already mentioned, is downy mildew, which spreading was particularly favored by the heavy rains of late spring and early summer. A condition that resulted in high percentages of humidity, thus favoring the spread of downy mildew. The damage is decidedly worrying, so much so that the Italian government has allocated specific funds for the compensation of wine companies that have suffered losses due to downy mildew. It should be considered that in Italy organic vineyards make 20% of the country's total, therefore a decidedly significant share. The consequences in the organic viticulture sector seem to be worrying, so much so that several producers will even give up the harvest.

 Let's take a look at the previsions for the individual regions, from which can be clearly seen an evident difference and condition between the northern and central-southern territories of Italy. In accordance with the data released by trade associations, it emerges that viticulture in northern Italy has – overall – maintained the 2022 levels. A very different condition for central Italy, where there was an average drop of 20% compared to last year, while the areas of the south and the islands actually recorded an average reduction of 30%. In the north-western territory of Italy, Lombardy records the most important result in terms of quantity, followed by Liguria and Valle d'Aosta, then Piedmont. On the north-eastern side, it is Veneto that scores the most important result, Trentino-Alto Adige is practically unchanged, while Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Emilia-Romagna record a decline compared to 2022.

 The situation in central and southern Italy – as mentioned – is characterized by a generalized decline which, in certain regions, even reaches 45%, with an average of -20% for the central regions, -30% for those in the south and the islands. A decidedly difficult harvest is therefore expected and which, according to current estimates, is to be included among the worst ever, joining the low results of the last hundred years, in particular those of 1948, 2007 and 2017. The comforting news – at least for the moment, saved further unpleasant surprises – is that the grapes currently harvested and brought to the winery are of good quality. Despite the predicted difficulty, the wines of the 2023 vintage will live up to the good name of Italian winemaking. In this sense, and as always, we will have confirmation only when we uncork the first bottles of this vintage and pour its wines into the glasses. As always, I am confident in the work, talent and skill of our Italian producers, convinced that, despite the previsions and difficulties, they will be able to amaze us with their new wines. Dear vintners, winemakers and producers, I wish you all the very best, while waiting to pour your wines into our glasses, confident that you will be able to amaze us again and as you always have.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 232, October 2023   
Waiting for Wine Vintage 2023Waiting for Wine Vintage 2023  Contents 
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