Grape harvest 2020

It’s harvest time at Tommasi Family Estates!

On 18th August Tommasi officially started the 2020 harvest, beginning at the Caseo estate in the Oltrepò Pavese with the Pinot Nero for the spumante base wine  

The rite of the harvest is – for the Tommasi family – an appointment that includes various starting dates, dependent on the production zones of the Group’s wineries, of which there are no less than six, in the North, Center, and South of Italy. That is why keeping tabs on the prospects for - and progress of  - the harvest at Tommasi means monitoring a large part of the Italian wine production scene, with our expectations being logically linked to the climatic and technical/production-related developments that have taken place during the year.

 

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In this regard, Giancarlo Tommasi, the Group’s enologist, declared: «On 18th August we began the harvest in the Oltrepò Pavese: a splendid day and splendid grapes! We also monitored on a daily basis the final stage of ripening of the Pinot Grigio at our Prunea estate in Vapolicella Classica, the harvest for which began on 26th August. On the other hand, for the Vermentino at Poggio al Tufo and for the Fiano at Surani, the harvest started in the first week of September. After checking the state of ripeness of the fruit every day, we have been picking the grapes for our Lugana at the Le Fornaci Estate since 14th September».

«As regards a forecast on production volumes» points out Giancarlo Tommasi, «we can realistically    imagine a drop of around 10% compared to the previous year for Surani, while for Poggio al Tufo the reduction should be 5%. For Casisano, we are in line with the volumes of last year, partly because we have been very rigorous in controlling all the phases of the vegetative cycle of the vines in order to obtain the yield foreseen in the production regulations for Brunello di Montalcino. The Caseo estate is also registering the same volumes as the year before. As for the Valpolicella Classica zone, we are in line with the new regulations about the yield per hectare in the harvest for the grapes for Amarone: lower, to guarantee even greater quality. Lastly, there is Lugana, where we have confirmed the volumes of last year, with a yield that is deliberately lower than that called for in the production regulations».

«As a general rule, therefore, we shall definitely be able to obtain a high level of quality at all of our estates. This scenario is the result of precise choices we have made, even bucking the trend compared to the rest of the market: limiting the yield per hectare, and applying in a very strict manner the production regulations of our most important denominations even in other, less prestigious, areas. Several denominations have reduced their yields this year, not only Amarone. We have decided to focus on greater bud selection, concentrating, at the agronomic level, on the quality of the fruit, starting from the initial phases of the vegetative cycle».

From Emiliano Falsini and Fabio Mecca Paternoster, who oversee winemaking respectively at Casisano and Poggio al Tufo and at Paternoster and Surani, here are some interesting details about the weather at the individual estates.

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Casisano – Montalcino, Tuscany – In terms of the weather pattern, this year has been ideal up until now. The vegetative cycle began very slightly early and has carried on without any notable climatic phenomena so far. The spring was regular and mild; only in the last few days of July did the temperatures rise considerably, but so far this has not affected in any negative way the optimum growth of the vines and the ripening of the grapes. So, the vines did not suffer any stress from lack of water, and yields are also in line with the norm. At the moment, we can consider this a classic vintage, with prospects of excellent quality. If the weather in August and September remains regular, we can look forward to a very interesting year which, based on the weather patterns we have seen so far, recalls to some extent 2015.

Poggio al Tufo – the Maremma, Tuscany - Harvesting of the grapes for the red wines will probably begin in mid-September. Poggio al Tufo forecasts production that is slightly lower than in 2019, by 5-10%. Thanks to a regular spring and well-distributed rainfall, the vines attained a good vegetative balance, without any particular problems with diseases.

Paternoster - Basilicata – We have witnessed an excellent vegetative cycle: rain fell at just the right time, with always about ten days between showers, favoring the right amount of absorption by the plants and linear vegetative development of the vines. There have not been any problems with the health of the vines, and a very gradual véraison phase is now beginning, which makes us think that the harvest will take place at the end of October. Another particularly important factor for the grapes’ quality has been the marked differences between day- and night-time temperatures, which have been evident since the end of July, thus making the bunches swell very nicely.

Surani - Puglia – From a quantitative point of view, production this year has been influenced by a frost that considerably compromised the flowering phase, especially for the Primitivo, so we now have low yields but – on the other hand – extremely high quality. We did not register any problems with vine health, and the weather patterns were positive and linear: it has certainly been very hot at times, but cool breezes in the evenings and frequent (but never intense) rains have always helped the vines to confront each stage in their phenological development.

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The Appassimento

Tommasi family is certainly one of the most renowned ambassadors in the world of Amarone Classico, “Ripasso method” and Appassimento, the technique of drying the grapes.
The Appassimento is a unique and particular method of the Valpolicella Classica region, which has always characterized the production of wines of this territory. This technique has its roots in a distant past and since Roman times it has been remembered. Over the centuries, this technique of “drying” the grapes before crushing was completed and today distinguishes the production of the great wines of Valpolicella: Amarone and Recioto in particular. The experience needed to bring at the right point of Appassimento (drying process ) the grapes for Amarone is very high. To get an excellent wine the Appassimento is essential. It is a very critical and delicate phase, also linked to the cycle of seasons.
The grapes perfectly ripe and healthy are selected at the time of the hand picking. The thinnest bunches are choosen, with the berries not too close each other, so that the air can circulate. The grapes are laid out in large perforated plastic boxes, to ensure excellent ventilation. The boxes are stacked in the fruttaio, a large airy room above the cellar and the grapes are periodically monitored so that the Appassimento takes place in a perfect way.
Along with modern boxes there are the “Arele”, historical heritage of the Valpolicella, the protagonists of the method of drying the grapes.
“Arele” is the dialect term, which indicates the typical hurdles of wood and bamboo, where some of the grapes used to produce Amarone is still dried in the traditional manner.
The fruttaio is designed to ensure a constant aeration of the grapes so that the temperature changes gradually, and there are not puddles of moisture. The drying process must proceed very slowly.
The Appassimento lasts 100 days, but even more, according to the percentage of water contained in the original grapes. It is in fact the water has to “evaporate” from the grapes, leaving almost intact sugars.
The most obvious visible consequence of this phase, as well as the withering of the berries, is the loss of weight of the bunch, which varies depending on the type of grapes from 30% to 35%.
One of the main characteristics of the indigenous grapes (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara and Oseleta ) is the thickness of the peel, which allows for a so long and slow drying process, preserving the characteristics of the grapes.
In January, the grapes are crushed and the maceration of the skins is long.
Also fermentation at low temperature is very slow, it takes about 40 days for the production of Amarone and 20 days approximately for the Recioto, the sweet traditional wine.
The Appassimento leads to a higher concentration of the juice inside the berries, which then gives to the wine more body and structure.