In 2003, a very hot year, we began to collect dolcetto grapes 29 August. This year we started even earlier, establishing a new company record: 21 August. This year has been incredible. It began with an atypical heat during the week of Easter. Towards the end of April we reached temperatures close to zero for 5-6 days. May was a July, with high temperatures. June, July, and August continued the trend. Almost no rain. I remember two days of rain between 1 May and today.
It won’t be an easy vintage. The vines underwent stress due to the lack of water and strong sun exposure. The stress appears in young vines, with early yellowing, as well as in adult vines, with an exponential increase in sick plants. We were presented with viral problems – the immune defences drop and the organisms are more likely to get sick.
We started with the nascetta (which is normally harvested around 20 September), beginning with greener, less ripe bunches – which are more acidic. In normal years, we do the opposite, but this bizarre 2017 will definitely have problems of acidity due to the excessive heat. For this reason we have decided to start with the less ripe parts so that we can take some of the more acidic grapes into the winery, in order to help with wine-making.
It’s surreal to start so early. No one is mentally ready. No one really understands what’s going on. The vintage won’t be like 2003. No one will assume that there will be good wines just because it was hot. The irregular ripening will play an important roles in the creation of wine. We’ll wait and see.