Our Journal

2015: A star year for Italian reds

5th January, 2016

2015: A star year for Italian reds

David Gleave MW shares his notes on the 2015 vintage across Italy, which proved to be a year where the reds stand out from north to south.

Wine production in Italy was 10% up on 2014 to between 46 and 47 million hectolitres, and 5% up on the average for the past five years.  Volumes were up in all regions, except Tuscany, which was 10% down on last year.  You could say, the best thing to come out of 2014 is 2015!  The wet weather during 2014 meant lots of water in the soil, so water stress was not a problem during 2015, despite the hot weather in July.

A good Spring was followed by a good budding and excellent flowering.  Temperatures in the second half of June and all of July were very hot.  July was the hottest July in 200 years, about 3.5 degrees higher than the average.  It is a year of very little rot, of very few treatments, in pretty well all of Italy.  A little bit of rain in the second half of August helped, as did a drop in temperatures.

In general, the whites are full and ripe with low acids.  Some of the earlier varieties, like Pinot Grigio, have nice weight but some perfume was lost during the hot weather in July.  Later varieties like Garganega escaped this though and are nicely perfumed.

It is an excellent year for red wines.  “The grapes looked so good they seemed to be fake, almost too good to be true,” said Alberto Antonini.  It is an excellent year for reds in northern, central and southern Italy.  The wines have good colour, ripe tannins and, in the best cases, a freshness due to a lack of shrivelling. Nebbiolo is excellent (though final judgement should be reseved until Spring, given the vagaries of this variety), Corvina is excellent (grapes drying for Amarone were pressed in mid-November, about two weeks earlier than usual), Sangiovese in Tuscany is outstanding (“the best year I’ve seen in over 30 years in Montalcino,” said Andrea Costanti), Montepulciano in the Abruzzo is excellent and Nero d’Avola in Sicily is the best seen for many years.

The one area that suffered was Puglia, where rot and mildew were a problem, partly due to a lack of care in the vineyards. However, not everyone suffered. Mark Shannon of A Mano says his biggest vineyard brought in excellent fruit due the attention paid to the vines by the grower.