The 2013 harvest will be remembered as “vintage” in the sense that on average picking operations began 15 days later than over the last 10 years, and ended early in November with the last bunches of nebbiolo.
In particular, the beginning of the vine’s vegetative cycle was conditioned by a sluggish start to Spring, and low average temperatures in March and April. The period between April and throughout the month of May featured plenty of rainfall (210 mm on average, with a total of 18 days of rain). This created more than a few difficulties for growers, who found themselves facing the risks associated with fungal attacks right from the outset. Despite this, those who managed to take the correct agronomic action were able to solve the problem at its inception, limiting the damage. The start of the campaign heralded a season which proved to be anything but easy: every ounce of experience would be needed to achieve a harvest which in the end produced generally unexpectedly positive results considering how the vintage had looked from a climatic point of view.
In June, the conditions linked to atmospheric events gradually improved, leading into a highly positive July for the physiology of the vine, partly due to greater meteorological stability. Flowering took place as per normal in the second ten days of June, followed by good berry set. To sum up, we can say that despite a very positive summer and good weather between the beginning of véraison and ripening, the vine was unable to completely make up the delay in vegetative development accumulated over the previous months. A final consideration in general terms concerns production: the good berry set combined with the availability of water benefited the development of the clusters, which were larger, heavier and more compact on average than in recent vintages.
The wines made from white berry grapes can count on a big aromatic framework and excellent acidity in developing their bouquets to the full. The sugars are slightly lower than in recent vintages, and as a result the alcohol content will also be lower, but this is no bad thing, considering in particular the tasting properties sought after in white wines.
For the Dolcetto-based wines the vintage was positive. Most grapes proved to be sound, and with excellent values for being able to develop fresh, fragrant wines. There will be no lack of top class product in what are historically the finest growing areas, where wines can be made that will express themselves at their best after medium ageing.
Barbera is without question the variety in the area of the Langa and Roero that was most affected by the vintage’s particular climatic pattern. Most probably the not overly high daytime temperatures and the shorter period of intense heat than in recent years meant that physiologically there was less deterioration in the fixed acidity, producing medium-sound grapes with an average sugar content but high acidity.
Nebbiolo is the variety that benefited the most towards the end of the season, when it was able to enjoy the high temperatures recorded in September and October. These were perfect for allowing it to develop to the full the phenolic profile that makes it stand out, and produce wines suited to ageing. The beginning of the season was conditioned for the Nebbiolo grapes too though by the climate, delaying the bud break. This delay was not made up for in the summer, but from August through to the harvest the climate was perfect for phenolic synthesis, with hot, bright days accompanied by cool nights, especially from mid-September on.
Overall the season was distinguished by two main trends: a difficult start, followed by a second period that rescued the situation, and meant that with the particularly calm climate in the months of September and October harvesting operations could be delayed with very satisfactory results.
In conclusion, we can say that for all our grape-varieties it was a demanding vintage to manage in the field, in terms of yields as well. What undoubtedly made the difference was making the right choice on when to take action on the basis of climate, variety and pedoclimatic conditions. Wherever green harvesting and stripping of the leaves were carried out at the right time and in the right way, well-structured, long-lasting wines will be obtained to make 2013 an excellent vintage.