News from the vineyards

The 2013 wine year.

The late autumn and winter were unusually wet, with above-average precipitation and some heavy rains.

By Helmuth Zozin, director of the Manincor wine estate

The late autumn and winter were unusually wet, with above-average precipitation and some heavy rains. The last serious snowfall down to the valley bottom was on 18 March, ideal for delivering water for storage in the deeper layers of the soil. This deep moisture is needed to enable the vines – providing they have correspondingly deep roots – to survive the long dry periods of summer without watering and without any symptoms of drought stress. It gives them greater stability and makes them more resistant to disease. It also means riper grapes and finer taste.

In the period of the full moon at the end of March, we performed the first spraying with stinging nettle and horn manure in order to stimulate soil activity. Two more sprayings were to follow in April and May to provide support for healthy continuous growth and a further basis for resistance to disease and the quality of the grapes.

As in an average wine-growing year, the first green appeared on the vines at the beginning of April. But then the spring weather turned cold and wet, which greatly retarded the further vegetation process.

A late year. The first blossoms were observed on June 5. The period of blossom was accompanied by excellent weather, with the thermometer rising above 25°C for the first time and sometimes coming close to 30°C. On June 12, most of the vineyards were in full flower. One week later it was all over. From then on we knew to expect a late year. As usual, we sprayed the blossoms with camomile tea to encourage balanced fruiting. The whole of July and the first half of August were hot and dry with just a few thunderstorms and no hail. The hot and dry weather was good for the vines, which completed the period of growth and moved on smoothly to the ripening phase. This process was supported by spraying a mix of horsetail tea and our own cow horn silica preparation. As we had foreseen, the vines were able to maintain their vigor during the dry weeks of July, and watering was not required until August 5 and then only on certain sites. Pleasant late summer weather set in in mid August, with daily highs of between 27 and 30°C. The first week of September brought rain and cooler temperatures, heralding the onset of autumn.

The harvest. On September 16, the harvest began on our best Sauvignon Blanc sites at Lieben Aich and Tannen­berg. These first lots of grapes were excellent. The autumn weather was just as it should be: a foehn wind from the north, with cool nights and sunny, but not too hot days.

The good weather held until the first week in October, and we were able to harvest the Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes at optimum maturity. Sugar and acidity were ideal, and the grapes had thick and firm skins. In this respect we were particularly pleased with the Schiava. Its sensitive genetics make it especially difficult to achieve physiological maturity; everything has to be just right. That was the case in 2013.

On October 5, a depression over Italy brought wet weather to South Tyrol. Our reds survived the ten days of damp and wet remarkably well. Our focus on harmony in the vineyard generated clear benefits in terms of stability and resistance. In the middle of October, the golden autumn weather returned, cooler now but dry and sunny. We were thus able to leave the Lagrein, Merlot and Cabernet grapes hanging on the vines, taking advantage of the good weather to achieve full maturity.

Unfortunately, this perfect weather only lasted a week. To obtain the best possible quality, we harvested the grapes in two passes. We were rewarded with perfectly mature grapes with thick and firm skins for about 20,000 bottles of our Cassiano and 12,000 bottles of Rubatsch, while the rest was good for 70,000 bottles of a quality Réserve del Conte. Whether the best grape lots have the makings of a Castel Campan is something to be decided after the wine has spent twenty months maturing in the barrel.

Fruity and juicy. In terms of basic character, the 2013 wines can be described as fruity sweet and juicy. The saltiness that is typical of our vineyards is also present, of course, but it is the fruit sweetness that dominates in the 2013 vintage.

The white wines, the rosé and our two Pinot Noirs again offer outstanding quality, with somewhat less acidity but greater mellowness than in the previous year. Our Keil is perhaps the best of the last few years, full-bodied with ripe fruit flavors but elegant at the same time. It is still too early to make definitive judgements about the Rubatsch and cuvées. At present we are in the process of bottling the especially delicate 2012 wines, which – on first impression – are slightly restrained but have the mineral finesse to develop into outstanding wines offering elegant enjoyment after a few years spent maturing in the bottle.