When it all Clicks: Avignonesi Harvest Report 2015
When it All Clicks
Avignonesi Harvest Report 2015
2015 is first and foremost about balance; balance between sun and rain, which in turn brought balanced growth in the vineyards, a balanced grape yield per plant, a beautiful harvest period and wines with a wonderful balance between power and elegance.
Since Virginie Saverys took over the winery in 2009, all efforts at Avignonesi have been concentrated not only on crafting the best wines possible in each vintage, but also on creating the best-growing conditions possible for the vines in each vintage. After a series of weather-challenging vintages, 2015 has, finally, provided our young and dynamic production team with a real chance to express its full potential.
Some would say that 2015 is an easy vintage, but make no mistake – quality does not just happen. It always takes a lot of hard work to secure perfectly healthy vines and grapes on a surface of 200 hectares/495 acres.
The success of our vineyard management depends on a constant, on-foot observation of the vines - “walking the vineyards”, as we call it. This year, we also used aerial photography of the vineyards, to obtain 6-colour vigour maps of all the lots. When laid on top of our own soil profile maps and confronted with the on-foot data, it gave us detailed snapshots of the growth and health of all the vineyards and allowed us to act and treat preventively when needed. It also helped us determine when to pick the grapes and how to divide single vineyard lots into separate sub-parcels based on altitude, soil, vigour and temperature. We were able to pick the grapes from each sub-parcel when we felt they were ready. This is a big difference compared to 2014, when nature, with the frequent threat of heavy rain, made the choice for us.
Ashleigh Seymour, winemaker: “I have had both the time and the opportunity to experiment in fermentation. I am, for example, excited about the whole-berry fermentation of our top Merlot. The results are more than promising. I have also been much more selective in managing the skin maceration of our Sangiovese to enhance the special traits of each Vino Nobile lot. This year some of my favourite Sangiovese comes from La Stella, a bush-trained vineyard which usually gives very low yields. In 2015 yields have finally gone up and the quality is excellent. In my opinion La Stella 2015 may become ‘Grandi Annate’ material.”
Matteo Giustiniani, winemaker: “This year it is ‘easy’ to make good wine, and 2015 will certainly be recognized as a vintage to look out for, at least for Tuscany, but I actually look forward to seeing the 2014 wines on the market. 2014 was challenging on many fronts. It is one of those vintages where the wineries, which have made a severe grape selection during picking and worked well during vinification, will stand out. To give you an idea, in 2014 we declassified 1/3 of our wine and we decided not to make any of our top selections. This actually means that our core wines, such as Vino Nobile, are excellent. In 2015 we can pick and choose. The prime material for all the wines is wonderful.”
Alessio Gorini, Chief Agronomist: “After some years dedicated to studying the behaviour patterns of all our vineyards we now know them well enough to apply tailor-made cover crop seed blends to each lot, decide where to intensify the applications of biodynamic preparations and when to work the soil. We aim to enhance the virtues and reduce the vices of each vineyard. All this can only be achieved because we have a great team of dedicated men and women in the vineyards. I cannot stress this fact often enough.”
Virginie Saverys: “What makes me happy is the seamless collaboration between vineyard and cellar workers I have seen this year. For the pied de cuve of our Chardonnay, we even called the office staff out to pick grapes. One big family, committed to a common goal. We have also continued our investment in new technology with the trial of a second optical grape sorter. We opt for a natural approach in tending to our vineyards, because we believe that this is the best way to protect our most valuable assets, the soil, the plants and the people, and we adopt state-of-the-art production technology to ensure that we get the job done right. After a couple of vintages with extreme weather (2013 hot and dry, 2014 cold and wet), 2015 permits for the Montepulciano terroir to shine through in each and every wine. That’s what we want. Balanced, elegant wines which taste of place and grape.”
Avignonesi picked a total of 913.7 tons of grapes from 10 different vineyard sites and had a medium yield of 5.7 tons per hectare/ 2.28 tons/acre. Harvest of the white grapes started with Chardonnay on August 31st. We started picking the red varietals on September 10th, approximately 1 week earlier than normal and finished on October 7th.
This year we also had an excellent olive harvest. Avignonesi owns 1470 olive trees, and in 2015 we produced 1.870 litres of certified organic extra virgin olive oil, all processed in our own olive mill.
We are also happy to introduce a new member to the cellar team! Chicco, a border collie that has been a big help during harvest this year and can always be seen around the winery, searching for a good belly rub.
2015 Weather Details:
Spring was rainy and not too warm. The soil was able to fill its water reserves during winter and spring.
We saw bud break on April 10th, in line with recent years.
Flowering started on May 25th, slightly earlier than last year, due to a constant rise in temperatures during spring.
The month of July was very hot with a few hailstorms. In particular, 2 of our vineyard lots were hit particularly hard. They were treated with propolis and valerian sprays to minimize the damage.
Veraison started on August 6th and evolved very quickly due to the heat.
The vines reached moderate stress levels during August, but the rain showers at the end of the month helped them ripen regularly, as temperatures also dropped to normal.
September was a near-perfect month. Warm, but characterised by healthy, Northern winds and significant day-night temperature swings, accompanying the vines in their final ripening stage, where they were able to reach an excellent balance between fruit, alcohol and structure.
Harvest Diary – When We Picked:
Chardonnay: August 31st
Malvasia: September 7th
Trebbiano Toscano: September 7th
Grechetto: September 14th
Merlot: September 2nd to 15th
Sangiovese: September 10th for one, young vineyard; September 17th -29th for all other vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignon: October 5th to 7th
Avignonesi owns 10 vineyard lots in Montepulciano and Cortona and produces the following wines:
◊ Grandi Annate Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
◊ Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
◊ Rosso di Montepulciano
◊ Il Marzocco Chardonnay
◊ Desiderio Merlot
◊ Grifi Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon
◊ Vin Santo di Montepulciano
◊ Occhio di Pernice Vin Santo di Montepulciano