On Etna, we began to pick some of the Cesanese d’Affile and Petit Verdot on the 10th. The Nerellos are ahead by two weeks: wondering if some might already be mature, we hold off, while others on the mountain have begun their harvests. For me though, these hints of ripeness are the result of the tremendous heat of the summer, showing color, sweetness, searing acidity, but not yet that magnificent, formal decline into ripeness that will happen soon, drawing from the stars and rising up from the roots in a ripening tide.
Yesterday, the moon drew out a violent maturity in the grapes, with sugars spiking. What a moon! We began harvesting the nerello, starting in the lowest vineyards of Chiappemacine and Malpasso up to the vines just below Guardiola: at Guardiola, still we wait, the grapes will continue until tomorrow night. Usually, we’re harvesting the 30th and the first days of November, last year on the 24th, but this year the 16th…
I am in the Guardiola office, listening to the noise from the winery coming up through the windows; it’s been a full harvesting day. Now we are finished picking on Etna, too.
This was a year of great vitality within the plants, fertilized in the well-watered soils from the rainy winter, followed by heat galore in summer. The long period of rain in early October weakened the skins, with a nasty cloud hanging and dripping humidity for weeks, leaving dew every morning. Mold started in the lower vineyards, but with the advanced ripening, picking earlier here made sense. We waited longer for the higher vines to come about. We could because of the altitude: the cold, the sparser bunches, and lots of propolis to keep them healthy, finishing just today.
Hours at the sorting table with so many kids that appeared from everywhere around the mountain left us with austere Petit Verdot, shameless Cesanese, with tannins and color. The Contradas are good: mineral, salty, varietal wines, with very fat and burning liquids falling during the rémontages. The vintage is not like 2012, not like 2014, but nonetheless a complete and structured picture of Mount Etna, with a good skeleton, low acidity, very low alcohol.