The three winter months, January and February in particular, were characterized by decidedly above average temperatures for the period with very few days on which the minimum readings fell to below zero. Rainfall during this period was more abundant than usual but, in view of the scarce amount that fell in Autumn 2015, on the whole the Autumn-Winter precipitation was just sufficient to replenish the groundwater reserves.
April registered an above average high temperature peak in the first week and very few days of rain. May and June were on average cooler and rainier than normal: more precisely, the temperatures of these two months only reached their average levels on a few days in the last decade of May and the last decade of June; it was not before 21 June that temperatures suddenly rose to their normal seasonal levels. In these two months, there were numerous rainy days (about 20) but on the whole the amount of rain in mm was slightly above the average level for the period.
July followed a more normal trend for the season, both in terms of precipitation, temperature and hours of sunshine, with maximum levels never exceeding 35°C. In August, the minimum temperatures followed a very regular trend, while the maximum values, owing to a sequence of cool air currents, fell to below average levels both in the first and last decades of the month. The total amount of rainfall in the month was abundant but timely, being almost exclusively due to the rainy days of 6 and 30 August.
A substantially normal temperature trend was observed in September with slightly higher readings in the first two decades and slightly lower ones in the last ten days; rainfall was also normal for the season and was mainly concentrated on the days between 16 and 19 September.
October brought a sharp fall in temperature in the second week together with abundant rain, which fell in the same period and towards the end of the month.
Monthly temperatures and precipitations in 2016 registered in the Montepulciano area.
Average maximum temperatures
Average minimum temperatures
Diff. Between average temperatures and consolidated average temperatures
(= indicates difference between ± 0,5°C)
Diff. Between average monthly precipitation and the consolidated average (↑greater than +20%; ↓less than -20%; ↔ ± 20%)
Plant growth and harvesting trend
The buds broke rapidly and uniformly in most vineyards of the appellation in the first week of April, following a hike in temperatures starting from late March when they rose to well over 20° C in their maximum values and 10° C in their minimum ones. Only in the warmer areas did the buds break few days earlier.
The development of the plants in May and June was slow and quite regular; in the same period the agronomic management of the vineyards called for particular attention and effort because the elevated number of rainy days increased the pressure with regard to cryptogamic diseases. The flowering of the plant, which is a particularly delicate and important phase of its annual growth cycle, followed a very irregular trend owing to the wide temperature swings characterising the period in which it took place.
In the more favourable areas of the appellation, the first flowers opened around 22 May and the completion of this phase practically coincided with the high temperature peak during the last days of the month. Elsewhere, however, flowering started with the warm weather of late May, slowed down in the first week of June when the temperatures fell and resumed, reaching completion, in the second week of June. This temperature trend, which brusquely interrupted the flowering of numerous vineyards, resulted in a rather deficient fruit set which led to the formation of somewhat straggly bunches.
The subsequent phase of plant growth was regular and slowed down positively towards the end of July when the fruit on the vine started to change colour.
Ripening proceeded regularly until the end of August when, because of the abundant precipitation, the so far modest size of the berries increased significantly. In the more vigorous vineyards, but particularly in the plots where plant growth had not yet slowed down, this rainfall was not at all beneficial and represented a further setback to the irregular ripening caused by intermittent flowering. Furthermore, it also brought on the appearance of botrytis spotting. Fortunately, the month of September was favourable to the ripening process with warm sunny days and a few isolated precipitations of no great entity. The bunches of Sangiovese ripened between the end of September and the first decade of October, when most of the harvesting activity took place.
In brief, it has not been an easy year, with limited stress caused by drought or frost (similar in various ways to 2013), conducive to a quality product, but it has also called for an attentive management of protective measures and, above all, harvesting activities, with a meticulous hand selection of the bunches in each plot.
Summary of the main phases of the growth cycle
Bud break: 26 March – 6 April.
Flowering: 22 May – 15 June.
Veraison: 25 July – 24 August.
The wines of 2016
The wines of 2016 express the character of “classical” vintages: particularly intense colours, a pronounced fragrance typical of the varietal, a structure supported by medium acidity and a fine, dense tannic texture of good quality. A deeper analysis reveals excellent levels of intensity and colour tone, medium alcohol levels, acidity, pH, total polyphenols and extractive substances. In a few words, these wines, whose average quality is very high, will largely stand out for their elegance and refinement.
Giovanni Capuano, 23 January 2017