Before the Harvest: the Agronomic Side of Wine Production - Part 2

25 August 2020

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE - Before the Harvest: the Agronomic Side of Wine Production - Part 1]

In the vineyards of Tenute d’Italia there are several different varieties of grape: is this also an element that affects your work? Are there varieties that are easier to manage and others that are more delicate?

Yes certainly, variety is also an essential factor. By way of example, the incidence of botrytis on albana is almost zero, unlike red vines which are much more sensitive to the attack of this fungus. On the other hand, an attack of mites on an albana or trebbiano is much more likely than on a syrah. So let's say that each variety has its own strengths and its own weaknesses. But let's be careful here: I want to make it clear how these examples are closely linked to our vineyards. The individual characteristics of each plot (altitude, exposure, soil composition) are in fact crucial to define the incidence of health problems.

As far as nutrition is concerned though, does this also vary depending on the year?

Yes. Absolutely. Certainly, from this point of view the continuity between the different vintages is clearly stronger, that is between the work to be set up each new year and that carried out in previous years. In any case, when it comes to nutrition, it should be emphasised that the key element is the objective in terms of the final product. In other words: it is true that wine is made in the cellars ... but also in the vineyard! Through nutrition we can in fact, from the vineyard, inaugurate a work of monitoring and intervention on some essential components of the wine that we are going to produce, such as the alcoholic component and the polyphenolic component. Furthermore, over time, a nutritionally well-supported vineyard guarantees a constant in terms of production and quality compared to a fluctuating management.

Let's remember that nutrition is not only the supply of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but also calcium and bio stimulants contribute in every situation to guarantee the objectives which we have set ourselves. Referring back to the previous question, there are obviously also clear differences in approach to nutrition according to the different varieties: but going into detail on this particular aspect would be rather complex due to the many variables concerning the composition of each variety and of the  various clones.

We have seen how multiple factors are involved in defining the quality of a vintage, characterised both by a strong interconnection and by an absolute mutability. The vintage that we can read on the label therefore doesn't just indicate the year in which the grapes used to produce that particular wine were harvested, but it encompasses the whole history that led up to that harvest. 

Are there other elements that intervene to define the quality of a vintage?

A predisposing factor for the success of a vintage is certainly proper water management, or the possibility of being able to make up for any shortfalls and thus avoid the so-called stress of the plant. After all, if we think about it, this is a determining factor in the management of any crop!

How do you envision a perfect vintage?

Let’s start with the premise that there is no single answer to this question. As we have seen, there are so many variables that we cannot define a uniquely perfect set-up. Rather, we can speak of favourable years, that is, those in which the pressure of pathogens does not go beyond the thresholds and the correct nutritional intake is supported by the weather. Of course, long periods of drought are always to be avoided, as well as, conversely, excessive rainfall, especially in the period close to harvest. Equally damaging are extreme weather events such as hailstorms, tornadoes or frosts. That said, however, I want to emphasise an important point: successfully completing the so-called agronomic year, therefore being successful in managing the vineyard, does not automatically mean having a great vintage in the cellar. The key to success in the overall work of our supply chain lies in the constant coordination between the agronomic work and that carried out by the team of oenologists at every stage of the journey, in order to pursue a final goal. We must never forget, though, that constantly working alongside us is Mother Nature, a very special collaborator who is capable not only of dealing with really unexpected problems but also of proving herself to be a great ally.

Tenute D'Italia is a trade mark of Morini s.r.l.
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