Harvest 2023 in Barolo: challenges, surprises, commitment and dedication
The Producers of DEDITUS, Association in Barolo, talk about the 2023 harvest of Nebbiolo
We gathered eight of the nine producers that make up the DEDITUS Association who, moderated by La Stampa journalist Roberto Fiori, gave their views on the Nebbiolo da Barolo 2023 harvest.
A vintage that will certainly remain etched in the memory of the area's producers. Stefano Gagliardo, Poderi Gianni Gagliardo, calls it 'a miraculous vintage' for the results that are emerging. "We can consider ourselves lucky, in Barolo," comments Eugenio Palumbo, Vietti: "our area was saved from the major and extreme weather events that affected the whole of Italy. This is “despite the fact that literally everything happened”, posing “great challenges to those who work in the vineyard” emphasises Alberto Cordero, Cordero di Montezemolo.
A year that “had already begun in a difficult way, after 2022, an extremely dry year, therefore with the vines already under water stress”, recalls Lorenzo Scavino, Azelia, which was followed by extreme weather events: an excessively mild winter and spring, followed by aggressive rains at the end of May and then again by heat waves until reaching, in mid-August, peaks in temperatures that “cooked the grapes, which, when ripe, are particularly sensitive, especially on specific exposures on top of the hills”.
A trend that reflects the broader climate change, with weather events becoming more extreme.
Precisely for these reasons, it is agreed that it is a vintage in which “it is entirely up to the producer to decide the steps and strategies of the harvest and production”, as Zvonimir Jurkovic, Poderi Luigi Einaudi, sums up.
Starting with late thinning out, which, according to Luca Sandrone of the Sandrone Luciano company, “made a big difference in the presence of malic acid, thus preserving the acidity of the grapes”. This was followed by the selection of the grapes one by one: “a surgeon's job”, comments Lorenzo Scavino, quoting his father Luigi, who, at the Azelia winery, led to an increase in staff by a third compared to previous years.
This care and attention is also reflected in the timing of the harvest. "While the tendency is not to be in a hurry, the abnormal heat puts a strain on our experience", admits Luca Sandrone. Experience in the field is therefore important, explains Zvonimir Jurkovic: "Checking the vineyards and tasting the grapes every day to understand and understand the progress of the individual vines live, paying attention to changes in the weather”.
"The experience accumulated from previous vintages, which were certainly anomalous from a climatic point of view, combined with the progressive adaptation of the vines to the new conditions, is however paying off," comments Stefano Chiarlo, Michele Chiarlo winery: "despite the extreme temperatures, there is no excessive alcohol content, and therefore the harvest is still on schedule. From an organoleptic point of view, the wines have very good characteristics, confirms Alberto Cordero, with an excellent concentration of colour and aromas, high acidity and good alcohol content. A series of characteristics that not only denote good balance, but above all give hope for "excellent ageing prospects" according to Cesare Benvenuto, on behalf of Pio Cesare.
We are, in short, just at the beginning of a certainly memorable Barolo vintage, whose evolutions are yet to be discovered. The grapes, the timing and the harvesting choices vary substantially according to the areas, primarily the neighbouring Barbaresco and Roero, but also according to the individual soils and single vineyards. The tanks that are currently fermenting, such as Dolcetto and Barbera, are proceeding in a less linear manner than in previous years, and Alberto Cordero comments that while “other vintages are outlined right away, this one will probably take longer”.
Despite the many surprises, the mood is extremely confident, but above all intrigued and determined: the main message from everyone is that, today more than ever, it is the producer, the man, who makes the difference. "This year, the excellent result we are getting should be read with a different perspective”, concludes Gianni Gagliardo, President of the DEDITUS Association, “it is a result of the great skill shown by the producers in the area. 20 years ago a similar result would have been impossible”. The experience gained, the interest and attention in confronting, monitoring, and facing the challenges of the present and the future, and above all the care and dedication that these producers put into their wines are confirmed, today more than ever, as the legacy and future of Barolo.