Above: Chardonnay grapes from Barone Pizzini’s 2015 harvest in Franciacorta.
The summer of 2015 was characterized by warm, dry weather. The level of rainfall between May and July was the lowest in 20 years. The bottom line: Little rain and a lot of warm days.
It’s a really interesting vintage in terms of understanding the vines’ ability to deal with hydric stress. Our vineyards lie on morainic soils which are rich in gravel and stones and as a result have good drainage. None of our vineyards are irrigated. But despite this fact, hydric stress (liked dried up leaves on the training wires) was limited.
This is probably due to the fact that we have been working the soil for twenty years trying to increase the number of organic substances in it. This means that the soil become softer and thus more able to retain humidity, something that is key to vineyard health and to biodiversity. It’s taken many years to achieve this.
The vines have developed very deep roots and they are now “accustomed” to working hard to survive. By not “spoiling” the plants, we have plants that are stronger and more resilient in dry vintages. They have to fish deep down into the soil in search of water in order to deliver well ripened bunches.
I like to think about it like a choice that has two important components, one for us and the other for the environment.
1. It allows us to obtain healthy grapes that retain the character of our soils, vineyard by vineyard.
2. And in terms of the environment, it allows us to capture CO2 and to maintain the fertility and vitality of the soil. It shows how when you work to maintain living soil, it’s not a limit but rather a building block of quality.
The climatic progression limited the number of times we sprayed in the vineyards to a minimum, including the use of copper.
The fruit was very healthy and harvest began on August 11 with the Pinot Noir. This year, it was particularly fruity in its aroma and rich in color. The Chardonnay came next. It was very “concentrated” and rich in flavor although the yields were lower than last year.
It’s hard to judge the quality at this point. Fermentation is ongoing, in stainless steel and in barriques. It will take some months on the lees to be able to fully evaluate the harvest. But so far, so good.