Wine, especially “natural” wine, must also be interpreted as an organic ‘gauge’ of climate trends because it collects and variously exhibits the consequences of water availability, temperature, thermal excursions and light. These phenomena allow us to reconstruct the climate in addition to simply talking about the taste: it’s beautiful and fascinating to taste a wine from 1947 and remember the hot year or a wine from 1977, a cool and rainy year, or from 1997, 2003 and so on. Tree growth is recorded by the distance between the concentric rings of the stem that allow us to read climate succession. Wine, which doesn’t live as long, enables us to retrace a certain period in the past and also enjoy, at a distance, the memories and emotions connected to it. A vintage is always an expectation and surprise that has fueled, in the past, an important and extensive list of popular sayings that have combined climate stages with the promise of crops. These ‘forecasts’ derived from long experience and tests passed down the generations have certainly not lost their validity and we continue to experience them (e.g. ‘a year without winter will be without summer’, ‘a difficult year for grain will be difficult for grapes’…). But above all, undertaking agriculture means choosing the road of foresight, prudence, timeliness and patience.
The vineyard, with its woody plants for several decades of fruiting, should be considered by its growing seasons, i.e. periods of a few years that even from a climatic point of view can be highly variable and therefore require different commitments. In general, while summers are mostly favourable for important and durable red wines (although the vines suffer the heat), cooler and wet years increase the vegetation and thus the roots as they grow.
The year 2014 will certainly be remembered in the North and all the way to the Maremma Tuscany for the greenery spread everywhere. It’s quite a sight to see the trees, hedgerows, meadows and wooded areas in their vegetative luxuriance while the water tables overflow. We’ve also experienced high rain intensity (let’s not call them bombs!) and their consequences, which must also give pause to our activities, agricultural and otherwise. For the vineyard, the reduced solar energy in July was notable: in 20 years on average the bioclimatic Winkler scale has been 465, this year it was about 38% less; and even in August it was not so hot. The classic diseases have kept wine growers busy and sometimes there have been failures. But above all, once again we received confirmation of the territorial ‘suitability’ for vineyards and good use of heritage varietals.
Basically we tend to enjoy a good climate and a periodic climate variability that is constant. In 2014, summer was swift and then never arrived in terms of regularity and effectiveness. Rainfall (in July there were on average 21 days in rain) is another rare and very favourable aspect for roots. Thus it has been a great year for the roots, which are ready to explore the terrain and prepare new butches and tastes. Fortunately, the weather thinks about the roots because some of us only ever think of the fruit of the tree, ‘forgetting’ that the plant has basic needs unless it is to succumb prematurely.
It is impossible to make harvest forecasts and we do not have to, it will be the wine that ‘speaks’ of the experience. We do our best to reap the rewards, aware of the dynamic search for harmony with the earth and with the weather events that affect us and make our work effective.