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The wave of frost that hit Italy in the days following Easter had different consequences, depending on the territories, throughout the national territory. The situation, from what emerges from the monitoring of Assoenologi (Association of Italian Oenologists), appears today distributed patchy, but the areas of medium hills and valley floors suffer the most, with specific damage on those early varieties that already had issued the first shoots. There are areas particularly affected in Tuscany and Umbria, but some territories of Emilia-Romagna and Veneto are also affected by the frosts, as well as many other areas where, fortunately, there are no particular repercussions especially in the southern regions which are those with the highest production potential.
From this first monitoring, with some exceptions, no significant reductions in the national production potential are expected to date, even if an effective assessment of the real damage to production can only be carried out in about ten days,
when the “cottony buds” will pass to the next stage and open and, at the same time, we will have passed other days in which significant thermal drops are expected again. “Assoenologi’s valuable monitoring activity throughout the Italian territory is aimed at providing an important contribution to the many producers who, more and more often, have to deal with the phenomenon of climate change”, comments the president of Assoenologi, Riccardo Cotarella. The report, region by region, realized thanks to the 5,000 members who daily play a role of sentinel and careful monitoring of the territories in which they are called to operate, it gives a more complete picture of the damage left in the vineyards of the Belpaese by the frosts of last week.
In Trentino Alto Adige the high areas were not affected, in the other areas there are slight damage even if not quantifiable on the cottony buds and to be evaluated at budding, as very low temperatures were recorded. In South Tyrol, the vegetative delay meant that no damage was evident.
Among the vineyards of Friuli Venezia Giulia the frost mainly affected the Glera vine, in the area of ​​the Pordenone plain. We could speak of a 5-7%, but it remains to be verified. The delay in the vegetative cycle of the vine, due to the prolonged drought, avoided major damage as only the Glera and Chardonnay had started budding. The cold was more incisive especially in the flat area where, in patches, it hit the buds already developed and in fact, causing the greatest damage.
In central eastern Veneto the area most affected was the low one, in the Venice area, but it is difficult to quantify any damage. In the hills no problem as budding was delayed. Any complete damage can only be assessed in a few weeks, as the low temperatures could have created damage even on the gems not yet open.
Moving to central western Veneto, damage was only shown on Glera and Chardonnay in some areas of Vicenza and Padua and only on vines that were in an advanced stage of budding with the first bud. Many vineyards have not yet sprouted and have been saved, such as the lake area, Valpolicella, Soave and Bardolino, behind on the phenological development, as well as Pinot Grigio in the plains. It is impossible to quantify the actual damage now, but limited product losses on these varieties can be assumed.
Going to Lombardy, only to Franciacorta there is some sunburn on the tips of the buds, but nothing to worry about at the moment. The other areas are all behind, also due to drought. In Oltrepò the damage to date is irrelevant, because no vineyard was in the process of budding in the valley floor. Some minimal damage to the vineyards of the plain, but we are talking about about 5% of all the production in the area.
Some problems also in Piedmont, despite the fact that the vineyards this year have a vegetative delay of about 10 days and the damage on the cottony buds must be verified subsequently. Some problems could be found on the Nebbiolo vine which does not have the second productive bud, with repercussions on Barolo and Barbaresco. Frost damage is however found on low buds and in particular in vineyards at lower altitudes and on cuttings in the first and second year. Damage of 15% can be assumed, but production does not appear to be compromised.
In Emilia there is a rather widespread damage, but on some varieties it is not yet possible to quantify and in some areas it is late. The damage to the Lambrusco Grasparossa vineyards (which constitutes 1/3 of the production in the province of Modena) should be highlighted, which this year is ahead of its germination and where there is approximately 70% damage.
Better it went in Romagna, where at this moment we can speak only of areas affected by late frosts and not of the percentage of non-production. There are no problems in the hilly areas, but 50/60% of the province of Bologna and the province of Ravenna were affected by the frost. It is estimated that 8,000 / 10,000 hectares of vineyards on 25,000 hectares of the provinces of Bologna, Ravenna, Forlì and Cesena, Rimini and Ferrara may have been affected by the frosts. The less involved provinces are Forlì and Cesena, while the province of Rimini was not involved at all.
The situation in Tuscany is complex and worrying, with the entire region affected by frosts, with peaks of -7 / -8 degrees in the Arezzo area and probably considerable damage. It is difficult to quantify them now, but the grape that has suffered the most consequences is Sangiovese, which had already sprouted, while Vernaccia is almost unscathed, behind in phenological development. The high areas of Chianti Classico do not show any damage for now, critical issues found in Montalcino and Montepulciano in the valley and plain vineyards. Maremma, on the other hand, is the most affected. Damage is estimated at around 40%, with even higher peaks.
Umbria Trebbiano (the most widespread white grape in the region) was hard hit, especially on Chardonnay, Grechetto and Merlot, as it was late in vegetative growth. In Lazio the situation is similar, especially in the province of Viterbo. In the Marches there is no significant damage, because the vegetative restart is delayed. Some damage in the valleys of the Piceno area, especially on Sangiovese and Pecorino. In the Verdicchio area, very limited damage to some vineyards, to be assessed the damage on the buds that were in the swelling phase. In the province of Pesaro, represented mainly by the Bianchello, there are no particular problems, except for some vineyards in the valley.
In Abruzzo and Molise there is no substantial damage detected. Some critical issues emerge from the province of L’Aquila on early Chardonnay and Pecorino grapes. Montepulciano survived because of its vegetative delay. The province of Chieti, which represents 70% of the production, has not suffered any damage except in some vineyards in the valley. Going down to Puglia, the situation does not appear worrying on the Primitives which are late vegetative, with very limited damage on Negroamaro and Black Malvasia, with greater extension in the Itria valley. While, between the provinces of Foggia and Bari, some discontinuous areas with early vines were hit.
In Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily, Regions where there are normally no problems caused by freezing, however, slight, albeit modest, damage occurs in Campania in the lower Benevento area and in Sicily on cuttings and early vines in the valley floor. Finally, in Sardinia, the greatest damage is found in the north-west, especially in Alghero, and in the north-east in Gallura, in any case in a “leopard spot” pattern. Frost damage is also found in the upper Oristano area, on the Vernaccia grape variety. In the south, some small damage on the valley floor vineyards and early varieties such as Moscato, but it will be necessary to wait a few more days for a more precise evaluation.


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Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

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