The beginning of 2023, after a series of small yielding harvest, was a year full of hope. It turned out to be one the most complicated vintages in the last 10 years throughout all of Italy.
The fall and winter months were identified by abundant rainfall which finally replenished the earth after 2 extremely dry years. Upon and budbreak in March and April, the rains would just not stop and so, from April until mid-June almost every afternoon was characterized by heavy rainfall.
The amount of water precipitation in these essential months made the treatment of the vines difficult as it was all based on very brief windows of opportunity. Luckily, most of our vines, 12 hectares to be exact (29,6526 acres), are located around the winery in the south-eastern most part of Montalcino; here soils are very well drained thanks to copious amounts of rock and stones.
Furthermore, the characteristic warmer southern exposure plus constant breeze helped dry the vineyards and allow tractors to enter the rows. Unfortunately, our northern vineyard in località Montecalbello, situated between the hill of Montalcino and the hill of Montosoli, was almost impossible to manage. Its pure clay soil made it fundamentally impossible to treat the vines which resulted in merely 0,25 tons of grapes picked from 2.5 hectares plot (4,942 acres).
Growing season continued with a drastic change of weather. The summer months were dry and with peaks in temperature of up to 42°C (105°F) for more than 15 days straight. These high temperatures pushed the vines into protection mode and slowed ripening in august.
Preparations for harvest begun during second part of august with the cleaning of the cellar and the drawing up a strategy for the upcoming picking. With the aid of laboratory analysis of the and berry tasting, we eventually decided to divide our vineyards based on maturity and allow for 2 separate harvests of two different vineyards,Roccolo our lowest, and plot n.56, dedicated to our Brunello and single vineyard wine. This helped us immensely to keep quality up to standards during difficult year. Harvest started on the 12th of September and ended on the 2nd of October with a one week break in the middle to allow some berries to reach optimal ripeness.
In terms of loss, we are looking at 10% less than average, with most of the reduction regarding the Rosso di Montalcino vineyards, which were hit the hardest because of higher humidity due to lower altitude.
For the first time since the start of Tenuta Buon Tempo, our vines had never been hit so hard by downy mildew, a new challenge that found us at moments unprepared but taught us and highlighted how much location and hard work can do.
The new wines are still in the fermentation room are bubbling away freeing the trapped CO2 inside the tanks and will eventually be moved to barrel.
The Rosso di Montalcino tanks being noticeably lighter but particularly fruity, with alcohol content as low as 12.8%, a record! The Brunello tanks are looking great with standard 14-15% alcohol and great acidity. The grapes from p.56 showed great potential from the beginning and allowed us to prolong post fermentation skin contact and add complexity to a potentially age worthy Brunello. Another difficult and memorable vintage, where patience and focus again are key.
Cheers from Tenuta Buon Tempo