If you love synthesis, there is one word that effectively sums up the 2022 harvest on the Langhe and Roero hills: miraculous. If you want some more technical details, here it is: absolute earliness of ripening, brevity of operations in the vineyard, quantitative reduction that is not too severe and absolute health of the grapes.

Certainly, last autumn’s harvest was among the most atypical in recent years. “A vintage dedicated to resistance, resilience and climate adaptation” say the producers from Alba. Also because the results that you can find today in bottles that have already entered the market or in barrels waiting to complete the refinement are wines that have almost all achieved excellence: from Arneis to Moscato, from Barbera to Dolcetto and Nebbiolo in its various declinations, they all obtained a rating of four and a half stars out of five, assigned by the technicians of the Piedmont Region on the basis of various parameters.

“Few people, faced with the heat and drought of last August, would have bet on it, but in the end we found ourselves facing an excellent harvest and equally promising wines” confirms Matteo Ascheri, president of the Consorzio di Tutela del Barolo, Barbaresco , Alba Langhe Dogliani. “A surprise ending, which forced everyone to review their cultivation techniques, following and contrasting the changes in the climate to get the best”.

The vast majority of rainfall occurred in the summer months, with already quite high temperatures and an almost tropical climate, through thunderstorms. It was therefore a question of very intense rains, which fell within a few minutes, which unfortunately cannot be absorbed much by the ground, if it is not prepared to welcome them, and which slip away by streams due to the force with which they fall. However, the vine has proved to be a thrifty plant with a great spirit of adaptability. It was able to cope with the stress generated by the climatic conditions and came out strengthened, reserving pleasant surprises for the producers.

“The biggest question – say the agronomists – right now concerns next year’s production levels, especially for those vineyards that were already suffering from last season. In fact, we cannot fail to consider the accumulation of reserves certainly reduced to a minimum as a critical factor. We will see if the resilience of this extraordinary plant will be able to remedy this aspect as well”. Also because, underlines Federico Spanna, head of the agrometeorology office of the Piedmont Region, “climate change is no longer an anomaly, but it is now a reality that we must face with all the consequences of the case”.

President Ascheri is aware of this. “Years like 2022 – he reflects at the end of Grandi Langhe, the largest tasting dedicated to the Alba appellations staged at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin on 30 and 31 January – represent an important moment of growth for those like us who must know how to adapt to climate changes. It will also be necessary to evaluate the effects of a maturation that has been rapid and less harmonious than usual, but we must be more than satisfied”.

The Dolcetto and Barbera grapes were balanced, with very interesting prospects especially for the latter, which maintained its freshness despite the summer heat. Dolcetto, albeit with a smaller average berry size, can count on an excellent sugar supply and an accumulation of anthocyanins such as to give it an important color and structure. Nebbiolo has demonstrated, once again, the unique link with the territory, surprisingly managing to adapt to climatic conditions in a perfect way.

“In mid-September it was close to the harvest from a technological point of view, while the phenolic maturity was still growing, to stabilize, in all areas, around the twenty of the month, starting the harvest – say the technicians of the Consortium of guardianship -. The size of the berry was smaller than the average and the ratio between the pulp and the peel was in favor of the latter. This fact should have guaranteed a better extraction of the tannic and aromatic substances, also facilitated by the excellent alcohol content which, during the maceration phase, favored the process. By paying attention to preserving the acidic framework in winemaking and given the other premises, we expect to obtain full-bodied wines with excellent long-term aging potential”.

by Roberto Fiori