The Grape Harvest

In full respect of our history and traditions, in 2003 we started our journey towards ‘natural’ organic farming eliminating all use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilisers.
Since 2008 we have been officially certified ORGANIC throughout the Estate
(not just the vines but also the olive groves and cereal crops).

The 2017 vintage at Ghizzano

L’ annata 2017 è stata caratterizzata da scarse precipitazioni sia durante l’inverno che durante il periodo
primaverile-estivo.

Dopo le gelate di gennaio l’inverno è stato particolarmente mite.
La primavera è stata calda e secca per cui abbiamo avuto un anticipo del germogliamento molto evidente. Come spesso accade in queste situazioni eccessivamente miti è sopravvenuta una gelata primaverile (metà aprile). L’abbassamento termico di pochi gradi sotto zero ha determinato danni soprattutto nei fondovalli e nelle zone adiacenti ai botri. I vigneti collinari sono per fortuna rimasti indenni.

I mesi di maggio e giugno sono stati abbastanza caldi e particolarmente secchi per cui non si sono sviluppate malattie fungine (peronospora e botrite).

I mesi di luglio e agosto sono stati molto caldi e privi di precipitazioni determinando un forte stress idrico con conseguente scarso sviluppo vegetativo.

L’anticipo vegetativo e la parziale disidratazione degli acini verificatosi nel mese di agosto a causa della siccità ha costretto ad anticipare la vendemmia al 17 di agosto con il Merlot.

Di seguito sono state vendemmiate tutte le altre varietà, tanto che la raccolta delle uve si è conclusa eccezionalmente il 7 settembre con il Cabernet franc e il Petit verdot.

Il clima caldo e secco ha penalizzato l’aspetto quantitativo (30ql di uva ad ettaro di media) , ma ha permesso di avere un frutto perfettamente sano e maturo con acini molto piccoli e ricchi di sostanze polifenoliche.

Questa concentrazione mitigata da una raccolta anticipata dovrebbe consentire l’ottenimento di vini intensi e complessi.

The 2016 vintage at Ghizzano

The weather during the unfolding of the season was certainly favourable with a mild spring without significant rain, conditions which led to a good flowering period and then good fruit set.  

The months of June, July and the first half of August were quite hot but without extremes and with little rain while in the second half of August the temperatures rose again, above 30 centigrade with northerly winds, which contributed to accelerated sugar accumulation by the plants but we avoided defoliation and unduly severe thinning out.  

The yield is well balanced and the grapes are perfectly healthy and ripe at the point of picking.  We began the harvest in the final week of August with the Merlot.  By the end of the first week of September we have picked some parcels of Vermentino grapes and by the middle of September all Merlot grapes were brought into the cellar. Thanks to two great rains on September 16th and 17th Sangiovese could have its good phenolic ripening and we ended harvesting this grape, together with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, by the end of the month The harvest has been pretty much in line with the 2015 vintage in terms of quality with very healthy though very concentrated grapes.

The 2015 vintage at Ghizzano

Vintage 2015 has been characterized by abundant rain in winter time and a mild and dry spring. This clime, thanks to the alternation of hot and windy day, helped the regular grapes growth.

The sprouting , which was in advance compared to the last vintage, has been followed by a premature
blooming. The first part of summer saw an important temperature rise, then 2 rainfall caused a temperature fall. This situation restored a perfect vegetative and productive balance allowing grapes to reach a perfect level of ripening. The warm clime after, reduced the risk of pathogenic attack , therefore it has not been necessary an overuse of copper and sulfur.

The harvest start on the last days of August with the Merlot and on the second week of September we picked the Vermentino and Sangiovese varieties. As usual we finished with the Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Petit Verdot . The perfect state of health of the grapes allowed us to have a quick and regular harvest.

The quantity has been a bit lower than the average due to the July dryness, but the quality in terms of structure and phenolic maturation has been fabulous .

The 2014 vintage at Ghizzano

The winter months were marked by abundant rainfall and by temperatures above seasonal averages, to the point that they never fell below the freezing point. Spring was characterized, in its initial phase, by high temperatures which led to an early bud burst, as much as 20 days earlier than usual in certain parts of the vineyard. Color change and ripening, instead, were delayed by frequent precipitations and by low levels of solar luminosity during the month of July.

Another significant aspect of this bizarre vintage were the winds, very rarely from the north, often the sirocco winds from Africa which brought both humidity and rainfall and frequent storms as well.
The anomalies of the summer of 2014 were also caused by the non-presence of the North African anti-cyclonic weather system which, in recent years, had made numerous incursions into Italy, bringing with it intense heat waves from the north to the south of the peninsula. This year the anti-cyclone only touched parts of southern Italy along with Sicily and Sardinia, leaving the center and the north to the mercy of the damp and unstable weather of the “Atlantic corridor”.

This strange weather pattern forced us to drastically thin the Sangiovese and Merlot crop during the period of the color change of the grapes in August, a consequence of the realization that otherwise there was no possibility that the grapes would ripen.

The weather during the month of September and the first half of October, fortunately, saw mild temperatures without rainfall and the picking of the grapes began with the Merlot on September 5th, grapes with potential alcohol levels which were lower than the previous vintages (but similar to those of 2013), less important in terms of structure as well but not excessively light and graced by an admirable elegance.

Given the possibility of postponing the Sangiovese harvest until September 25th (due to the crop-thinning already mentioned), we managed – moving through the various vineyards plots in two separate passages and eliminating the bunches which, inevitably, showed signs of mould or rot – to bring to the cellars grapes of excellent complexity.

The most satisfying grape varieties in terms of structure, size of the crop, and complexity were the Cabernet and the Petit Verdot, as usual considerably later in their ripening; they gave us wines of notable depth.
The picking of the grapes terminated on October 20th and, despite the difficulties and tensions which we experienced, we can say today, now that the malolactic fermentationhas been completed, that we have wines of much finesse and elegance and certain lots which can even be termed of truly distinguished quality.

The 2013 vintage at Ghizzano

After a rainy winter and spring, we have had a “fresh” summer with frequent weak rains and remarkable thermal excursions that have lengthened the maturations which has been a very positive aspect for certain varieties .
Therefore, more than ever, we have to report the characteristics of this vintage distinguishing it by varieties:

Harvest started this year on September 3re with the merlot grapes: 10 days later than in 2012. The result is really much better than the previous year since having ripened more slowly Merlot grapes had time to develop complexity and a good variety of aromas.

More difficulties with the Sangiovese grapes: we had to go and pick in two different steps since the weather was very changeable and it was raining very frequently. First step from Sept 20th to Sept 27th we picked the most delicate Sangiovese grapes in order not to lose them because of botritis. Then we waited several days to let the expected sunshine bring more concentration to the musts. We had to wait longer than expected since other few days of rains stopped the original plans. The second stage resumed on the 9th of October and finished on the 17th. By now the Sangiovese wines of 2013 can be divided in two categories: one is of very perfumed, bouquet wines, very ruby and fruity; the other is of intense and structured tannins and they have more complexity. Not a vintage of the century for the Sangiovese but I am sure that after all malolactic fermentations are over 2013 will show better than expected.

On the other hand our Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet frank and Petit Verdot grapes have ended to be great since the frequent rains did not damage their thick skins but allowed a very long ripening. Therefore we started picking them from Oct 14th and we finished our harvest October 17th and the result is of very structured but also very elegant wines because the degree of their alcohol is lower than the previous years.

The 2012 vintage at Ghizzano

The early months of 2012 were rather cold and were marked by  significant snowfall in February, something somewhat unusual for the Tuscan coast. Bud burst was nonetheless regular, even if the number of bunches  per bud was rather small. Late spring and early summer were very warm and dry, leading to berries of small dimension and limited production per vine. This, in addition to the low fertility already noted, led to a 20% drop in production. If production was too low, the overall quality was unexpectedly higher than what could be expected from a torrid vintage – excellent fruit, a bracing acidity, and, above all, high quality tannins. The 2012 vintage demonstrated, once again, that Pisan hills can give excellent wine in hot vintages. The contours of the terrain and the nearby presence of the sea succeed in mitigating torrid temperatures and contribute to preventing vine stress which could compromise a proper ripening of the grapes.

The 2011 vintage at Ghizzano

A normal winter, followed by an early spring with temperatures above seasonal averages, led to a slightly  early bud break. The later part of spring, with regular weather, and an early summer period  which – until the first part of August – was rather cool and punctuated by occasional rainfall, favored a long growing season, one free of any stress on the vines. The heat wave which arrived later in August, though partly mitigated by sea breezes, provoked a speed in the ripening of the grapes especially merlot which was harvested in the end of the month with a significant drop in production.

September, instead, was ideal, with lovely weather, low humidity, and the desirable temperature swings between daytime warmth and evening and night time coolness.
In short, the 2011 vintage can be termed a very satisfying one in terms of  the result achieved.

The 2010 vintage at Ghizzano

Grape harvest 2010 in Tuscany has been one of most heterogenous of the last years: such difference is due mainly to the capricious meterological course that, beginning from the month of July, has influenced the maturation of the grapes. At Ghizzano in particular, after a rainy winter and spring, we have had a “fresh” summer with frequent weak rains and remarkable thermal excursions that have lengthened the maturations and, for some varieties, has rendered our grape harvest rather difficult. We have been forced to delay the harvest and to make a strict selection of the grapes, particularly of Sangiovese, because problems of botritis began to show up. Mid October days of sun have instead allowed to the late harvest varieties such as Cabernet, either Frank and Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot to re-establish the sugar degrees and to complete the maturation.

Thus, the result of grape harvest 2010 in terms of quantity of production reveal a decrease of around 25%, due also to the strict selection that we had to operate in order to choose only good grapes. After the malolactic fermentations have been completed, we are able to assert that the quality of the vintage is good for the French varieties, even if not of great structure but of good freshness and great perfumes, and a very weak one for the Sangiovese, even though its perfumes are alive and very elegant. Given these considerations I saw myself obliged not to produce Veneroso 2010 and also to verify, in the arc of 2011, if Nambrot will have the necessary structure to be made. Of course it will be a great vintage for our wine ILGHIZZANO since all Sangiovese coming from either old and young vineyards will be used to bottle this wine.

The 2009 vintage at Ghizzano

In 2009, winter and spring were characterised by good levels of rainfall, although temperatures were so mild that the vegetative development of the vine was earlier than usual.

From the point of view of grape conditions, budding took place in the first ten days of April, confirming a trend established in 2008, while the flowers blossomed between the 20th and the end of May in most of the vineyards, during a shorter time span than the previous year (when the blossoming period ended towards the middle of June), thanks to the fact that temperatures were persistently above the seasonal average. Veraison began in late July, as in 2008, and was completed perfectly, according to experts, around the 20th of August. There were fewer difficulties with regard to the prevention of disease (downy mildew, powdery mildew and botrytis in particular) compared to the previous grape harvest, thanks to a climatic trend which, with abundant winter and spring rainfall, ensured a plentiful supply of water for vines. The rains continued until the end of May and then stopped altogether. There was no precipitation for three months; this led to a certain amount of stress in certain younger vineyards and particularly for Merlot grapes, which we were forced to harvest on the 24th of August. Fortunately, unlike 2003, temperatures were never excessively high and the considerable, constant temperature range (with nocturnal temperatures falling as low as 16°C) throughout the entire summer, enabled good phenolic ripening for late varieties such as Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Furthermore, the rains that fell in the first few days of September contributed considerably to maintain the excellent aromas of the grapes. As regards grape maturation, Sangiovese grapes have a slightly higher sugar content (about 0.5 degrees higher) and a lower acid content (-1 g/l of total acidity) than the previous year.

The 2008 vintage at Ghizzano

The 2008 grape harvest was characterised by a very rainy spring, which slightly delayed the vegetative development but was important to rebalance the lack of water suffered in 2007, especially in soils with a higher lime-clay content. The extension of constant drizzly periods during June and July, with medium-high temperatures, however favoured the development of classic vine diseases: first downy mildew and then powdery mildew. Pathogens had a much bigger influence than in 2007 and we did not always manage to keep them under control due to the implementation of organic farming techniques. Where we did succeed in reducing the damage caused by fungal infections, the quality and quantity of our grapes were excellent. Where the situation escaped our control (particularly in some north/north-westerly exposed Sangiovese vineyards) we suffered an estimated loss of about 30%, largely of Sangiovese variety. Nevertheless, 2008 wines are profound and very expressive. They conserve great flavours and, thanks to a good acidity, have plenty of fruity freshness.

The 2007 vintage at Ghizzano

The 2007 climatic trend in Tuscany was characterised by a winter and spring which were generally mild, with lower than average rainfall for the season. This induced the vine to bud about a week earlier than the previous year. Summer was characterised by a rather hot climate, with no rainfall until the middle of August. Fortunately the late August rains helped the grapes to ripen, slowing down the complete phenolic maturity, especially of late grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The rains continued, alternating with days of sunshine, until mid September. This was a long grape harvest for us and we did not complete the Sangiovese harvest until the 18th of October, finishing with the Petit Verdot on the 22nd of October. This did however allow a slow and more complete ripening of the grapes. 2007 wines are balanced, complete and characterised by a good acidity, meaning that they will also have an excellent cellar life.

The 2006 vintage at Ghizzano

The 2006 vegetative cycle started fifteen days late due to low temperatures in March and April. The return of fine weather in the months that followed brought vines to blossom beautifully at the end of May and to an excellent setting in June. An albeit scarce rainfall in August and temperatures that were never excessively high prevented vines from suffering water-related stress. There were important ripening processes with sometimes excessive alcohol contents, especially for Merlot grapes. This was a very potent grape harvest, reaching peaks of excellence for Sangiovese, which benefited from the lack of pressure on plant health and the high temperatures that characterised the summer.

The 2005 vintage at Ghizzano

2005 in the hills around Pisa was characterised by a rather cold winter with frequent, average intensity rainfall and snow, continuing until March. Fortunately this cold weather did not influence the vegetative development of vines. Early spring was quite cold but very hot and persistent towards the end, with above average daytime temperatures and considerable nocturnal ranges. This initially caused a vegetative delay in vineyards and difficulties with setting, followed by a sudden recovery with accelerated veraison and ripening, resulting in an earlier grape harvest than the previous year. Summer was characterised by high but not excessive temperatures and some rain at the end of July and August prevented water-related stress, especially in younger vineyards. Work in vineyards proceeded as usual and the grape health was quite good, although some areas were affected by pathologies like powdery mildew. Unlike other coastal areas, there was not much rainfall during the grape harvest and this allowed the bunches of grapes to reach complete phenolic maturity. This was a good grape harvest for our costal hill area.

The 2004 vintage at Ghizzano

2004 in the hills around Pisa was characterised by a winter with medium-low temperatures, frequent medium intensity rainfall and a light snowfall in February. Fortunately the cold weather did not influence the vegetative development of vines. Spring was a veritable alternation of sun and light, frequent rain, which allowed excellent vegetative development but made it harder to manage the typical vine diseases, downy mildew and powdery mildew. Summer was characterised by high but not excessive temperatures and some rainfall in the middle of July and August prevented the water-related stress, particularly in younger vineyards, that had occurred the previous year. Veraison and ripening were excellent and the daytime/nocturnal temperature range was also good for the synthesis and accumulation of polyphenols in grapes. More rain in mid-September (25 mm) enabled late grape varieties such as Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon to reach full phenolic maturity, with delayed harvests (for the area) but excellent results. For our coastal hill zone this was an exceptional grape harvest.

The 2003 vintage at Ghizzano

High temperatures and an evident lack of water were the factors that characterised the meteorological trend during 2003 summer in the hills around Pisa and on most of the Tuscan coast, having a quite considerable influence on the ripening and quality of grapes. Consequently the 2003 grape harvest was very early (between 10 and 20 days depending on the age of vineyard, area and soil) and was characterised by very healthy grapes. The production quantity and yield were lower even than 2002, due to smaller berries and therefore smaller juice content. Sugar levels were extremely high and did not always correspond to phenolic maturity, especially for very early varieties such as Merlot. In this case, a torrid heat reduced the concentrations of aromatic components and freshness. The late varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and, in some areas, Sangiovese, achieved a better balance, especially where soils were cooler and leaf walls richer. This was a difficult grape harvest due to uneven ripening, very low acidity and high pH. Overall the wines obtained had closed olfactory sensations but were very rich in colour and body.

The 2002 vintage at Ghizzano

A relatively cold and dry winter was followed by a spring with modest precipitations and temperatures which were slightly above the seasonal average, creating excellent conditions for the vegetative cycle of plants. 2002 was characterised by a bizarre summer, with no lack of rain and below average temperatures. Then, apart from budding, which occurred at the usual time, all the other phases of the vegetative cycle were about 10 days later, but endured no particular difficulties. An extremely variable September was followed by an irregular October, causing an uneven ripening of grapes. Thinning operations were necessary to bring the different varieties to complete maturity. Fortunately, thanks to a drastic reduction in the quantity of bunches per plant and a meticulous selection of grapes during the harvesting period, we succeeded in obtaining healthy fruits and consequently good phenolic and alcoholic maturity for the varieties cultivated on our estate. To date, having completed malo-lactic fermentations, we can state that Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese wines have excellent perfumes and concentrations.

The 2001 vintage at Ghizzano

The first variety to be harvested in Ghizzano once again was the Merlot. On the 30th of August grapes had already completed the ripening process and this resulted, after racking, in a wine rich in body and tannins. Cabernet and Petit Verdot were harvested around the 15th of September. The first sporadic rains in September helped the grapes to recover from the slight water-related stress suffered during the dry period in August. Quantities, as for the previous year, were scarce but the quality was absolutely excellent. After being drawn off, 2001 wines were immediately transferred to new barriques to undergo malo-lactic fermentations and it looks like this resulted on full, very fruit-forward wines. Thanks to grapes perfectly healthy, Sangiovese gave excellent results this year too: from the 25th of September to the 6th of October, in different phases depending on the different ripening stages of various clones on the estate, we succeeded in harvesting our Tuscan grape with natural alcohol contents ranging from 13 to 13.5% by volume. Part of the must is still completing maceration on skins before being transferred to small two-year-old used oak casks.

The 2000 vintage at Ghizzano

General trend: the year 2000 in Ghizzano was characterised by a spring with relatively frequent rainfall, a quite mild start to summer and high temperatures at the beginning of August which continued until the end of September. Grapes then ripened so quickly that Merlot was harvested as early as the end of August. Thanks to an attentive pruning in January and green harvest in July, the production per plant was limited but gave excellent results in terms of polyphenols and sugar. Like every other year, grapes were harvested into small crates to prevent damage and then vinified in stainless steel tanks. With frequent but very brief pumping over, it was possible to gain good extraction of colour and tannins (after 15 days for Sangiovese, 16 days for Merlot and 18 for Cabernet Sauvignon), which enabled us to obtain highly concentrated, elegant, balanced and rounded wines. Musts were vinified separately by cultivar and clone, before undergoing malo-lactic fermentation in barriques, except Sangiovese, which ended its fermentation on stainless steel.
Grape harvesting dates:Merlot: August 24th and 28th. A very high sugar content and low acidity led us to harvest Merlot grapes a few days earlier than in the past, obtaining excellent results. Sangiovese: September 20th-28th. The grape harvest was regular despite being carried out in different stages to respect the diverse ripening times of clones. The limited quantity compared to previous years enabled us to obtain decidedly superior grapes with regard to the quality of polyphenols and sugar content. Cabernet: September 29th-30th. Thanks to a low yield, grapes were perfectly healthy when harvested, with very high sugar maturity.