Italian Grape Harvest 3 weeks early in 2007
Whether climate change or a cyclical rotation of weather patterns, the temperature in Italy is significantly higher than normal. Grape harvest will come about 3 weeks earlier this year due to a warmer than normal winter and a scorching hot summer. This year the harvest will begin earlier than any year in the past 30 years. The Italian Wine Union believes that the quality will be good and in some cases exceptional however 2007 will be remembered as the year of pest attacks.
Volumes will be slightly down over 2006 and sugar contents higher resulting in wines with higher alcohol content. In 2003 the harvest and resulting wine was ok. 2003 was also a year very similar to 2007 with an early harvest and high sugar content. While the Wine Producers are talking about good to exceptional I would think that the 2007 wines will be fair to moderate, just like 2003. This further supports my suggestion to buy Italian 2006 vintages (considered the best in the last 100 years) across the board.
Wine is a natural product. It is the result of land, competency, and luck. This should not be taken to indicate that you should not purchase 2007 wines, simply that they will, most likely, not be the same level as 2006. The lower end wines will suffer less since they are not looking for the subtle complexity of flavors evident in a great aging wine. If the producers of the high-end wines realized the weather patterns early enough they will have reduced their production per acre thus maintaining quality.
I think this will have two different effects on prices although I defer to Italian Wine Guy for a more competent view of pricing. The first is that lower end wines, those under 25$ for reds and 18$ for whites, will decrease or maintain current pricing. For the higher end wines, those above 50$ for reds and 25$ for whites, prices will increase and volume will significantly decrease. I am not sure how prices will react on those great medium-priced wines I love so much.
If you have already planned your wine vacation to coincide with the harvest, there is little to do. If you were not thinking about visiting some of the vineyards because your trip was too early this may be a great opportunity.
The harvest of the so-called early grapes - Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Primitive - is now expected to begin in early August. August, rather than September, will also see the harvest of most of the wine crop, including Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Barbera and Merlot grapes. The harvest of late-maturing grapes, which are usually picked towards the middle of October, is now expected some time in September.
These include the Aglianico, Nebbiolo, Cabernet and Raboso varieties.
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