Wine harvest has come early in Italy as extreme heat continues to ripen the grapes faster than planned. Following a very cold spring, winemakers across Europe were worried the summer harvest wouldn’t survive, and expected wine grape production to be down by 15-20 per cent in Italy.
Luckily for us, the summer’s dry heat has not only contributed to keeping vines free from diseases, it has also contributed to a greater concentration of nutrients in the fruit making for tastier wine, particularly Prosecco, Primitivo and Pinot Grigio.
"It is entirely paradoxical," said vineyard owner and Confagricoltura official, Guido Folonari. "Everything bad that could have happened, happened. And yet we are heading for good if not excellent quality."
Italy is the world's biggest wine producer, and annual turnover in the industry is about 10 billion euros ($12 billion). Wine is also the biggest earner among the country's agricultural and food exports, Coldiretti says.
Despite the low grape volume, it seems the positive attitude towards the quality has spread into the northern hills of Franciacorta, where the grapes were hit so hard by the cold April frost that the production of the area’s prized sparkling wine is likely to drop by 30 per cent.
Producer Riccardo Ricci Curbastro said, “It’s still too early to predict how good this year's Franciacorta will be.” As the wine is fermented in the bottle, the process takes at least 25 months from the moment of picking before it can be tasted.
"We are not worried, the weather is favourable and the grapes are healthy. We will only know if it's good and how good after Christmas, when the wines have matured a bit and we can try a glass."
While we’re praying for Italy to receive some much-needed rain in the coming weeks, we’re eagerly anticipating some delicious wines to come out of the Italian summer of 2017.