The same cold front that damaged vine buds in an estimated 80 percent of French vineyards two weeks ago also struck Italy, leading Italian vintners report.
Piedmont and Tuscany were unable to escape freezing temperatures over several nights.
However, the damage was heterogeneous, depending on grape variety, elevation and how much the vines had grown since warm temperatures arrived in March.
“The damage is like the spots on a leopard—widespread but only hitting early varieties exposed to the warmer sides of the hills and below a certain elevation, as cold air goes down,” reported Antonio Michael Zaccheo Jr. of Carpineto, whose five estates are located in Montepulciano, Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Maremma.
Tuscan vineyards troubles
The frost was deadly this year because a warm March sparked many vines to start growing early.
When a cold snap brought several nights of freezing temperatures April 6, 7 and 8, the young buds suffered.
Frost tends to strike vines on valley floors and lower parts of hills more, because cool air settles there.
“Sadly, Sangiovese was already budding in many of our vineyards.
So for us the shoots from at least 50 acres suffered anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent damage,” said Zaccheo.
“In the Vino Nobile appellation I would guess at least one-quarter of the surface at lower elevations had similar damage.”
Carpineto’s vineyards in Montalcino are at higher elevations and his Chianti Classico estates are in cooler areas.
Thus were not affected. However, an experimental plot of Teroldego in Maremma was devastated, and Zaccheo estimates 50 percent damage to the Merlot there, while Vermentino was spared.
Gaja’s properties include vineyards in Barolo, Barbaresco, Montalcino and Bolgheri. Co-proprietor Gaia Gaja estimates the damage from the frost was minimal in Piedmont and Bolgheri, but some of the vineyards in Montalcino, particularly near Torrenieri were hit. “We had no damages in the Tavernelle area [surrounding their Pieve Santa Restituta cellars],” she said. “It is in the southwest portion of the denomination at [1,155 feet] altitude and temperatures reached [30° F].”
Source: Wine Spectator