Vintage Reports

A quick guide to the latest vintages.




2017 Sardinia

The island was so varied, with high highs and low lows across the entire island. It is difficult to generalize because of such drastic differences so we went directly to our producers. Raffaele Cani of Santadi explains that the weather for 2017 was “unusual even for Sardinia, with the almost total absence of rain and torrid heat that lasted for months. In Sulcis, in southwestern Sardinia where we are, the sandy, clayey soil (which maintains humidity), emergency irrigation, and [good] management of the quantity produced per plant, allowed us to come out in the end with an almost normal harvest. Though we will be down about 15% in quantity. At the moment our wines are not done, but from our early tests, they are rich in aromas with excellent body and structure. We needed to watch our whites closer, for pH and acidity, but the results are wines with interesting aromatics, supported by their typical minerality, good acidity and balanced alcohol. The Tre Torri Rosato has a brilliant clear rose color. The Carignano is typically ample on the nose with intense mineral notes and wonderful freshness.” Renato Spanu of Jankara explains, “This harvest was a struggle; the 2017 vintage will see 50% or less in production compared to previous vintages. The frost in mid-April burnt about 70% of the buds and the extreme heat and drought during the summer months guaranteed smaller production. However, the little amount of wine that is produced will be great quality and quite big in structure.”

The big takeaway for the 2017 vintage – aside from the great quality – is that things varied in Italy, from region to region, and zone to zone. It will be important this year to follow the words of individual winemakers and not general vintage reports. All in all, it seems that while most of the wineries in Empson’s portfolio suffered some loss in terms of quantity, quality has hung on quite strong. Of course it means Mother Nature was kinder to them, but it is also due to the great skill and foresight of our outstanding winemakers in managing what was handed to them.




2017 Sicily

Cool winters and a dry spring led to an even drier summer for the island. It seemed to have rained once in spring and then once again in early October. Sicily has never seen such fiery, relentless heat, with summer temperatures reached as high as 115 °F even touching 122 °F inland! As a result, extensive damage was done to farming. On average, harvest took place much earlier with a 35% reduction in quantity. Things went better on Etna for the mere reason that it is high above the sea. Michele Faro of Pietradolce gives us an explanation: “2017 was hot and dry and lasted a very long time. Our first rainfall after five months was last week! We are currently picking; we just finished whites and are working on the reds. On Etna, we were lucky that the scorching heat we had was balanced by the high altitude (3,000 feet above sea level) so the wines will absolutely have structure and body and will maintain the elegance and freshness typical of this area.”




2017 Puglia

The winter season had an enormous influence over the growth cycle in this region. Winter was colder than average and spring was mild with little rain. A warm April favored early budding, which was interrupted by the same frost, greatly reducing production potential. The hot summer caused water stress and harvest began about ten days early. The region is expecting a reduction of about 30% in quantity. White varieties will be higher in alcohol, but will seemingly preserve their fine quality. Reds will have excellent structure, concentration and mature tannins.

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