A vintage with little rainfall and that was not overly hot; careful vineyard management offers healthy and well-ripened grapes, to produce wines of quality and longevity.
The 2016 vintage was characterized by less rainfall compared to seasonal averages. At Contessa Entellina (from October 1st to present) rainfalls were 521 mm / 20 inches (compared to 648 mm / 25 inches of average in the past 10 years, from October 1st to September 30th), whereas on Pantelleria precipitations were only 276mm / 11 inches (compared to an average of 485 mm / 19 inches).
Regarding temperatures, spring was mild and summer proceeded without excessive peaks of heat, allowing the vineyard to continue the vegetative cycle in a balanced way.
In some vineyards in the beginning of the harvest there had been a slight delay of 3-4 days in the ripening of the grapes, but in the meantime this delay was caught up, so overall ripening times were in line with last year.
While in Sicily a drop in production of about 10% was forecasted, at Donnafugata the quantities harvested were more or less in line with the company’s averages at Contessa Entellina but -30% on Pantelleria.
At the Donnafugata estate in Contessa Entellina the harvest began on August 2nd with the harvesting of the little plots of Pinot Nero and Chardonnay, for the production of the winery’s two metodo classico sparkling wines, the brut rosé and brut.
At this estate the harvest got into full swing on August 10th, with the nighttime harvest of the Chardonnay; followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Syrah, Merlot and Fiano. On September 1st started the harvest of Nero D’Avola for the production of the Rosé wine Lumera whereas the grapes destinated for Mille e una Notte were collected one week later.
The harvest of Grillo and Ansonica took place in the first decade of September, Catarratto in the second decade. The other red varieties Petit Verdot and Tannat were harvested between the first and second decade of September.
On Pantelleria, the Zibibbo harvest started August 17 at the district of Punta Kharace, the 20th at Karuscia, the 21st at Bukkaram, the 23rd at Bugeber, the 24 at Khamma, the 27th at Favarotta, the 28th at Tracino and Monastero. The harvest continued in the districts of Ghirlanda, Serraglie, Gibbiuna, Mueggen and was concluded on September 15th at Barone.
“To compensate for scarce rainfall during the year – says Antonio Rallo, winemaker for the family business – and to help the vineyards reach optimal vegetation-production balance, we carried out some rescue irrigation; no less important was the cluster thinning performed on the more productive varieties, both in Contessa Entellina and on Pantelleria; on the island of sun and wind, in contrada Khamma, more than 30% cluster thinning was performed. At Contessa Entellina we thinned out in almost all red grape vineyards thus bringing home healthy and well-ripened grapes, an excellent premise of the quality and longevity of our wines. Last but not least with the 2016 harvest we reached another important goal for our winery as we have started to produce in the areas of Cerasuolo and Frappato di Vittoria as well as on Mount Etna where harvest ended on October 28th.” – Antonio Rallo concludes.