Tuscany Enjoys a Summer of Sun

Tuscans can be excused for not wanting to remember the 2014 growing season. It wasn’t outright horrible, but this province known for its sunshine endured a wet, humid summer that led to a lot of leaves and mildew in the vineyards. Some regions even grappled with an invasive fruit fly species that preyed on grapes. But 2015 was a new year, and a warm one, with sunny skies and plenty of heat, but also cooler nights that helped keep the Sangiovese grapes balanced.

The Good News: Tuscan vintners are excited about the potential quality of their 2015 wines, particularly the Sangiovese.

The Bad News: Yields were down in many areas, roughly 10 to 30 percent, depending on the estate, thanks to smaller berries and clusters.

Promising Grapes: Sangiovese in Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Montepulciano all look good.

Challenging Areas and Grapes: The weather was a little more irregular on the coast, in Bolgheri and Maremma. White grapes also struggled in many areas.

Picking Start Date: Growers began picking white grapes in the first week of September. Maremma started harvesting reds on Sept. 3; Montalcino began picking Sangiovese on Sept. 21, and Chianti Classico began on Sept. 29.

Analysis: After a wet, challenging 2014, Tuscan vintners wanted their sunshine back. Thankfully, they got it. A warm, balanced summer and well-timed rains produced promising Sangiovese.

Winter started the year with a chill, but a mild and rainy spring recharged groundwater supplies. This proved crucial, because summer temperatures were hot, averaging 91˚ F to 95˚ F during the day, but mercifully dipped as much as 30 degrees at night. Rain in mid-August refreshed the vines for the final stage of fruit ripening.

Winemakers across the region report that the Sangiovese looks spectacular, but as one vintner cautioned, «It’s early in the game and we still have to do our work in the cellar.» White grape varieties also look promising, but with so much heat, it was important to preserve acidity.

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