The Barolo Harvest 2017 and Fiera del Marrone, Cuneo

Barolo Harvest 2017

This week, I have been speaking with Paola Oberto from Ciabot Berton, one of my favourite Barolo producers who kindly gave me her overview of the 2017 harvest. This may not be the same for everyone due to the late spring frosts that caused some problems for producers dependent on exactly where their vineyards are sited but for Paola, 2017 was an easy vintage.

The beginning of the spring was really quite warm and the vines developed rapidly and by 20th April, the shoots were already 50 cm high. Then came the frosts for two nights but fortunately for them, only the vines on the valley floor were affected and those at higher altitudes, such as in their Roggeri and Rocchettevino vineyards, remained untouched. There was a little rain in May to help replenish the water in the soil but they were spared hailstorms unlike the people in the region of Asti where quite a lot of damage occurred.

After the bud set, the quantity of grapes per plant was fairly ideal, not too much and not too little thus negating the need for a green harvest later in the year. The summer was dry and warm, even hot at times and so the vines and potential fruit remained healthy and little work was needed in the vineyards after the middle of June. In order to protect the grapes from the burning sun, they decided not to thin the leaves on the vines and thus acidity was preserved so that wines would remain fresh.

Although there was no rain for three months (now over 4 months) the soils that are rich in clay allowed the vine to find sufficient moisture to carry on the ripening and thus the harvest came in with perfectly ripe grapes with thick, well coloured skins in perfect health.

Early ripening varieties such as Dolcetto and Barbera were harvested well before the normal dates, somewhere in the region of three weeks early. The berries were smaller than is usual and the juice very concentrated. The wines have deep colour and structure but alcohol levels are higher than normal at around 14.5 degrees.

Nebbiolo, ripening later as it does, had the advantage of the cooler, fresher nights that came along at the beginning of September so it was harvested only 10 days before normal. The acidity was near perfect and so were the sugar levels and after an analysis of all of the fermenting vats, the results show wines of great balance and with much potential for the future. The wines will be powerful, fruity, deeply coloured and perfectly balanced.

La Fiera Nationale del Marrone, Cuneo

This weekend, the national chestnut fair takes place in Cuneo. This is a fair that celebrates the humble chestnut, many of which come from the higher orchards in the hills above Cuneo. But it is not simply a chestnut fair: all types of gastronomy are on offer there for the public to buy from salami and salumi, cheeses, to hazelnuts and chocolate.

The stalls open at 8 in the morning and carry on through until around 11 pm. As well as the opportunity to buy high quality foods, the are also workshops and lectures being given by such organisations as Slow Food.

This is an excellent fair and when you read this it will probably be too late for you to organise a visit this year but it’s well worth making a note of it to visit in 2018 and enjoy all the fun of the fair!

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