A mosaic of different conditions between western and eastern Sicily for harvest already underway. Early harvesting and drop in production at Contessa Entellina and Pantelleria and good expectations for the Vittoria and Etna productions. The harvest will be almost 100 days long.
The 2017 vintage at Donnafugata has so far been characterized by less rainfall than average.
In particular, at the Contessa Entellina estate, in the heart of western Sicily, in the period between 1 October 2016 and today, there was 11% less rainfall compared to the average of the last 10 years.
Since rainfall was mainly concentrated in autumn and winter, during the summer months of June and July, we intervened with emergency irrigation. Thus the vineyards were able to complete the vegetation-production cycle in a regular manner.
Regarding temperatures, between July and August, values were higher than seasonal averages and this resulted in the ripening of all the varieties cultivated in the countryside around Contessa Entellina 1-2 weeks earlier than usual.
Despite the maximum temperature peaks, the good diurnal temperature range recorded among these hills has given rise to healthy grapes with good aromatic and phenolic ripeness.
The harvest at the Contessa Entellina estate started at the beginning of August – in the high-altitude vineyards – with the harvesting of the Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapes destined for the production of the metodo classico sparkling wines, the Brut and Brut Rosé. Then harvesting continued in other plots of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier; on 10 August, the nighttime harvest of the Chardonnay La Fuga was completed.
The Merlot was harvested from 16 to 18/8, Grillo from 16 to 26/8, Syrah from 17 to 22/8, Grecanico from 20 to 30/8, Nero d’Avola from 23/8 to 2/9. Tannat, Alicante Bouschet and Petit Verdot were harvested between 29/8 and 4/9. From 6 to 7/9 the harvest will be concluded in the last Cabernet Sauvignon and Catarratto vineyard.
At Contessa Entellina, in quantitative terms, a drop of about 15% compared to the average of recent vintages has been recorded.
From the first fermentations, just finished, of the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier musts, the whites show very promising quality. The fermentations of all the other varieties cultivated here are still underway and when they have finished we will be able to express a reliable opinion on the quality of the vintage.
From Contessa Entellina to Pantelleria: on the island of sun and wind rainfall was slightly higher than 2016 but it still remained below the average of previous years. This resulted in the need, in some vineyards, to perform cluster thinning in order to balance the crop load with soil water availability, to favor optimal ripening of grapes.
Traditionally for Donnafugata the Zibibbo harvest continues for about 4 weeks through the 14 districts where the company has its vineyards that differ in altitude and exposure; this year, instead, the harvest will be a week shorter than usual since it started 17/8 and is almost over. In particular, the harvest began in the early districts – in Martingana and Punta Kharace – with the grapes destined for withering, and then gradually continued in Karuscia, Khamma, Bukkuram, Tracino, Bugeber, Favarotta, Gibbiuna, Serraglia, Monastero, Mueggen, Barone, Ghirlanda.
On Pantelleria, in quantitative terms, a drop of about 20% compared to the average of recent vintages has been recorded, and a slight recovery compared with 2016 that was very poor.
Donnafugata is also committed to eastern Sicily, in the Vittoria area for the production of Frappato Bell’Assai and Cersauolo Floramundi. In this territory, the vintage was not so dry as that in western Sicily; however, above-average temperatures resulted in ripening about 10 days earlier than usual. The Nero d’Avola harvest began 30/8 and is still underway, while that of Frappato will begin around 10 September. Overall, a 5-10% drop in production is expected. Thanks to the emergency irrigation and careful crop load management, we are harvesting healthy and well-ripened grapes: the best premise for the quality of the wines that will come.
In the territory of Randazzo, where Donnafugata produces Etna DOC, the Carricante harvest should start between late September and early October, while that of Nerello Mascalese around mid-October. Due to the high temperatures this summer, there may be early ripening and a drop in production also here, but the climatic trend over the next few weeks may modify these estimates. In general, the vegetative cycle proceeded normally and, as of today, the grapes are in excellent condition.
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