The Vintages

Harvest 2017 wine year

What a vintage, the 2017! It gave us some challenges: a mild winter, a frosty week at the end of April followed by a very hot and dry summer.  

Our vineyards could handle these situations extremely well and were able to produce outstanding grapes. We achieved our goals thanks to our experience and to the fact that our vineyards on average are more than 15 years old.

The harvest began a week earlier than usual and ended on September 23; definitely we are very satisfied with the quality, unluckily a bit less with the quantity. The young musts show a pleasant freshness with beautiful fruit flavors.

Harvest 2016 wine year

The 2016 harvest began on August 18th in Maremma with the Merlot grapes for our Rosé, the newest label of Brancaia production, and ended on October 8th when the last Sangiovese grapes from Chianti Classico were in the cellar. As every year, the end of the harvest brings first a great satisfaction for the realization of a whole year of work carried out in the vineyards but at the same time, with the colors of autumn, a slight melancholy.

The year 2016 was characterized by climatic ups and downs. The mild weather of winter and beginning of spring brought an early sprouting; however the thermometer registered a sharp drop in temperatures in late April, luckily without damaging  the vines and merely stopping the plant growth. A particularly warm period, from June to August, followed to a very rainy May. If in the Chianti Classico this dry period was interrupted by a beneficial rain, in Maremma we have been for more than two months without a single drop of water. Thanks to the double fact of having plants no longer young and rather deep soils, our vines have managed water stress without problems. The month of September was marked, in the Chianti Classico, by continuous, unexpected rainy days. As always, in our work, it is necessary to adapt to nature: the conditions were perfect for the Maremma as well as for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Chianti Classico, which reached very high levels of maturity and complexity. As for the Sangiovese we made a thorough selection of grapes, passing twice in each vineyard, and had at the end not only the desired quantity but also high quality .

Hard work and commitment have been rewarded: the levels of technological and polyphenolic maturity of the grapes are perfect and make us satisfied and happy. We now have everything we need to do a great job in the cellar.

The 2015 wine year

Thanks to a rainy winter the water resources were high in spring. This – together with a mild spring – resulted in an early bud breaking and subsequently also in an early blossoming.

Yet the main characteristic of this vintage was the unusual heat wave in July. The temperatures were far above the average. This fact and the lack of rain in July led to a situation where insects and fungal diseases had hardly a chance to develop.

Despite the very positive effect of the heat wave, the cooling and the rain in the middle of August were essential for the development of the grapes. The month of September was characterized by sunny and windy days with high temperature fluctuations between day and night: ideal conditions for the perfect ripening of the grapes.

The harvest started on August 18 in Maremma with Viognier and in the Chianti Classico area, on August 30 with Sauvignon Blanc. End of September all grapes were harvested – in Maremma as well as in Chianti Classico.

Our white musts have beguiling aromas and a perfect balance of acidity, alcohol, fineness and freshness. Our red wines have complex aromas, are rich in structure with perfectly mature tannins. Wines that are certainly suited for a long storage.

The conclusion: 2015 is definitely a great vintage!

The 2014 wine year

One thing is for certain: The 2014 vintage was very complex and challenged us again and again. The winter was extraordinarily mild and rainy which led the grapes to bud relatively early. Vegetation could hardly be tamed due to the continuous rain and mild temperatures. We had to repeatedly do some blossom thinning.

End of July we decided first in the Maremma and subsequently also in Chianti Classico to defoliate around the grapes.  We based our decision on the assumption that there would not be a big heat wave. We assessed the risk that our grapes would get too much sun a lot smaller than the risk that there would be not enough sunshine hours. This decision which involved additional effort did not only help to use the few sunshine hours optimally but also to deal better with the morning moisture.Equally important was another decision in August: We decided to make a first selection in all vineyards. The first harvest was driven by the idea to leave on the vine only a reduced quantity of grapes with a quality as high as possible. Our hope was that those grapes would mature at least for another three to four weeks.
Luckily our effort paid off. End of September, beginning of October our work was rewarded with the second harvest delivering fantastic grapes. Overall we can look back on a vintage with a very high volume. However, for the top grapes the quantity was a lot less than in an optimal year.
2014 has proven once more that one can produce in Tuscany fantastic wines even under difficult circumstances – provided that you are present in the vineyards and that you do not shy the additional effort.

The 2013 wine year

The 2013 vintage was later than usual.
The rainy winter was followed by a spring with temperatures below average which slowed down the budding. This helped in two ways:

1. It greatly reduced the risk of frost which is especially significant for vineyards in Chianti Classico.

2. It allowed for more time to perform the defoliation which in turn enhances the quality of the selection.

Mid July the temperature rose significantly. The nice weather and the summer temperatures dominated the entire summer without turning into a big heat wave.

During September we experienced relatively large temperature changes from day to night what led to harmonic and complex maturation of the berries.We initiated the harvest on 30 August in Maremma with Viognier and on 15 September in Chianti Classico with Sauvignon Blanc. On 4 October we were able to contentedly look back on a great vintage which not only exceed our expectations in terms of quality but also in terms of quantity.

The 2012 wine year

This vintage was characterized by a very hot and dry summer. It has once again made us realize that without the “help” of mother nature, nothing is possible.
The year began with a water deficit from the previous year.
In January and February it was finally cold and the much desired rainfall came in the form of snow. In the Chianti Classico region the hills were covered with snow for up to two weeks and even in the Maremma the white magic held a few days.
The spring was very mild and quite rainy but neither the snow nor the extensive spring rainfalls could completely fill the water reserves. As of June, the days were very beautiful and without any rain. This led in the first half of August to a slowdown in the ripening of the grapes.
The fact that we currently do not have any young vineyards, that our soils are quite deep and that in the Maremma estate we have an irrigation system has helped us in this extreme summer a lot. So our wines could take full advantage of the long-awaited rain in late August.
The weather in September and October was perfect: Beautiful, warm and sunny days and cool, crisp nights.
The white grape varieties and the Merlot in the Maremma were harvested as usual at the end of August. As of September 10, we continued with the Merlot in the Chianti Classico. On October 5 we had all of our grapes in the cellar.
The grapes were healthy and perfectly mature. This vintage produced varieties that had quite a thick grape skin, which explains the high concentration of polyphenols in musts as well as the yield that was approx. 15% below average.
The result: All in all a great harvest that promises great wines.

The 2011 wine year

The 2011 vintage was characterised by extraordinary heatwaves repeatedly broken up by cooler periods.
In spring, it was extremely warm with very little rainfall; in early May, the day temperature rose to 30°C. This led to early budding. Around mid-May, the temperatures dropped significantly again. This cooler period had the effect of slowing down vine growth, giving us more time for initial canopy management, which went extremely well.
In early July, the temperature rose significantly to over 30°C, but before long it had turned unusually cool again. In late July, Chianti Classico and Maremma experienced extraordinary rainfall, which completely filled up all groundwater reserves. This also explained why the vines were able to withstand the extraordinary heat from mid-August without any great water stress. The day temperature then remained at over 35°C until mid-September.
The harvest began on 20 August in Maremma with the Viogner grapes. From 22 to 24 August, we harvested the white grapes from Chianti before harvesting the Merlot grape in Maremma and Chianti Classico shortly afterwards. On 27 September, we finished by harvesting the Petit Verdot grape in Maremma. The heat, which as mentioned was not combined with water stress, had very different effects on the plants. This partly led to different stages of ripening in the individual wine appellations. This in turn involved considerably more work during harvesting and meant that, in most appellations, we harvested twice and, in some appellations, three times.
Looking back now, it was worth the effort. We have excellent must; the late-ripening grape varieties in particular acquired great complexity again this year. The wines generally have an extremely high polyphenol content.

The 2010 wine year

From a meteorological point of view, in 2010 we had temperatures which were constantly below long-term averages.
The harsh winter was followed by a cool and rainy spring, which led to late budding and flowering. In summer, the great heat did not materialize – even August was rather cool and recorded some rainfall. This weather resulted in a very unproblematic grape maturation in Maremma, since the usual heat and water stresses were eliminated. In the Chianti area, our big worry was whether our grapes would reach perfect ripeness before the usual autumn precipitation began.In September and October, however, we experienced a perfect autumn. The weather was beautiful, with warm, almost summery days, while at night it was very cool. The harvest began about two weeks later than usual. After the white grapes and Merlot had been harvested, we stopped for another 10 days to wait for optimum ripeness in the remaining grapes.
On 6 October, all the grapes were in the cellar. The result clearly surpassed all our expectations for this difficult vintage. Thanks to our hard work in the vineyard and the perfect autumn, we were able to harvest ripe and healthy grapes. And the polyphenols were even exceptionally high.

The 2009 wine year

The year 2009 was characterized by average temperatures and precipitation. Water reserves in the soil were therefore perfectly replenished. Thanks to the rather hot and dry summer, the possibility of fungal diseases developing was so small that the number of sprays could be reduced significantly. From mid-August on, large temperature fluctuations between day and night occurred, a fact that was very helpful for the perfect ripening of the grapes. The grapes reached perfect physiological maturity and obtained good acidity and great aromatic complexity.

The 2008 wine year

The course of this year was very special. In winter, the long-awaited rains came, which continued until well into spring. Especially from May to June, we had frequent rains and temperatures that were well below the averages of other years. This led to suboptimal flowering and a highly-increased risk of downy mildew and powdery mildew. In early July, the weather was fantastic and stayed so until late October.  This allowed the grapes, as hoped, to grow and ripen perfectly. That is, despite a difficult spring and the exceptionally high threat of disease, we obtained the qualities and quantities in all our vineyards that we had targeted.
We started the harvest at the end of August with the Merlot and finished in mid-October with the Sangiovese in Poppi. Harvest conditions were excellent, and the grapes perfectly mature and very healthy. Working under such circumstances was a pleasure. We were able to harvest each vineyard at an optimal time, with wines which were compelling with their excellent balance of colour, acidity, tannins and alcohol.

The 2007 wine year

The winter was very mild, with temperatures which were above average, leading to early budding. The drought in the winter months was offset by occasional rain showers in July and August. In August, as well as in September, the temperature differences between day and night were very high, a circumstance which favoured the formation of rich aromas in the grapes. In Maremma, the harvest began on 24 August with the Merlot, in the Chianti Classico area also with the Merlot on 31 August – about one week earlier than usual. In early October, we concluded the harvest with the Sangiovese.
The grapes were all very healthy and had matured well. Sugar content and acidity are sufficient and balanced, while the polyphenol content is exceptionally high. The wines are very rich in colour, with soft tannins and a large structure.

The 2006 wine year

The winter was rather cool and, for a long time, temperatures ranged around freezing. The spring began with very cool temperatures, which led to a delayed start of vegetation. This has the advantage, particularly in the Chianti Classico region, that the risk of frost damage in spring is significantly reduced.
From May on, the temperatures started rising. June and particularly July were even very warm. The sun and regular showers promoted plant growth perfectly, so that the growth delay in the spring was soon offset. The weather in early August was characterized by heavy showers and cool temperatures. From mid-August on, the tide turned once more and a seemingly never-ending perfect phase of maturation for the grapes began. Temperatures were warm during the day and somewhat cool at night. This temperature difference between day and night greatly aided the formation of aromas in the grapes. Therefore, the grapes presented themselves in perfect health, with a nearly ideal ratio of skin and meat, high sugar content and strong acid. The young wines are characterized by an incredibly dense colour, rich in alcohol, which harmonizes well with the acids and tannins. The wines have a large structure that points to a long shelf life.
In Maremma, the harvest began on 28 August with the Merlot; in the second week of September, the Sangiovese was harvested, followed by the Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. On 28 September, we were able to bring a great harvest to a close.
In Chianti Classico, we began the harvest on 6 September in a young Merlot vineyard. After a short break, we continued the harvest on 11 September with the older Merlot vineyards, followed by the Sangiovese. On 4 October, we completed the harvest with the Cabernet Sauvignon, which exceeded our expectations in every sense.

The 2005 wine year

In 2005, the winter was snowy and rainy and so water storage capacity of the soil was used to a maximum. March was slightly cooler than normal, resulting in slightly delayed and somewhat heterogeneous shoots.
In April and May, it was possible to compensate for this slight delay. However, the yield was much lower, especially compared to that of the previous year. This also had an advantage: we had to perform hardly any additional regulation of the vegetation. June and July were very warm and dry; the grapes developed well. These very healthy grapes could therefore not be harmed by the rather cool temperatures and regular rains that followed in August.
In Maremma, we began the harvest on 29 August with the Merlot, followed by the Sangiovese, Petit Verdot and, after just 5 weeks, we completed the harvest with the Cabernet Sauvignon.
In Chianti Classico, the harvest began on 5 September. We started with the Merlot and concluded the harvest after 3 ½ weeks with the Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the cellar, there are very beautiful, harmonious young wines which already possess an extraordinary elegance. The beautiful fresh fruit is perfectly integrated with the moderate alcohol levels.

The 2004 wine year

In the 2004 wine year, the water available was sufficient until early summer. This was due to above-average snowfall and regular rain showers afterwards. The plants were able to produce surplus leaves and grapes. This of course meant extra work to remove the side shoots and thin the grapes. We had to thin the vineyard up to three times, in order not to exceed the target yield of 5,500kg/ha. The perfect ripening lasted until well into October. To prevent Botrytis caused by the morning dew, all vines were defoliated in the grape zone.
In Chianti Classico, we started the harvest in late September with the Merlot and completed it in the second week of October with the Cabernet Sauvignon. The long maturation period not only bestowed grapes upon us which had enough sugar, but also a variety of flavours, colour and tannins.
In Maremma, the natural water supply was perfect for our grapes. The usual water stress did not occur. The grapes were able to develop optimally and mature in a well-balanced manner. The harvest began in late August and was completed four weeks later with the Sangiovese.
The 2004 wine year was very labour-intensive, but the "extra effort" is reflected in the quality of grapes.

The 2003 wine year

The winter 2003 was marked by strong and frequent rains which continued into the spring. Since many buds did not sprout until early April, the frost from the night of 6–7 April was not able to cause any major damage.
The consistently warm temperatures from mid-May and rich water reserves enabled excellent development of the grapes. From July on, we often had temperatures ranging from 35 to 40 °C, but fortunately also regular one-off storms that somewhat reduced the heat and drought stress. At the end of July, we had to reduce the yield still further to guarantee perfect ripening of the grapes. The harvest began on 26 August with the Merlot and concluded four weeks later with the Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes were perfectly ripe, the stalks lignified and the grapes healthy, with a high sugar content, good acids and very high polyphenols. We expect very nice and balanced wines typical of their terroir.

The 2002 wine year

The wine in 2002 was marked by an arid winter and spring. Fortunately, in May, the much-desired rainfall came, filling up the water reserves of the soil. This allowed the young shoots to have a normal maturation process.
The dry June triggered a slowdown in the vegetation process. Maturation proceeded normally, despite constant rainfall throughout the summer, which aided the development of botrytis. Using a strong thinning process for maximum aeration of the grapes, we were able to counteract the threat of Botrytis in time. September was initially characterized by abundant rainfall, followed by sunny days with high temperature fluctuations between day and night. The yield amounted to around 5,500 kg/ha on average.
The grapes have high sugar content and intense flavours. We are confident we will once again be able to produce top wines with the 2002 vintage.

The 2001 wine year

2001 was marked by a mild, rainy spring. This led to a premature growth cycle which, at Brancaia, had already begun by mid-March. On the night of 14 April, temperatures abruptly fell below zero: In the more exposed locations, the young buds partially froze, causing much agitation. Fortunately, the vines affected by the frost started sprouting again. Although these buds were less fruitful, by moderate thinning of the grapes, it was possible to maintain the average yield at approximately 5,500 kg/ha. Heavy rains in spring were favourable for the formation of sufficient water deposits in the soil. This allowed the plants to get through the especially hot and dry summer without major problems. In late August, hot days were followed by cool nights, which, combined with light rainfall, formed the basis for aromatic and sugar-rich grapes. The harvest began on 7 September at Brancaia with the Merlot and ended on 4 October at Poppi with the Sangiovese.
The 2001 wines are full-bodied, with complex aromas, good structure and a high dry extract. The quality of the 2001 vintage is very promising.

The 2000 wine year

The 2000 harvest at Brancaia was marked by a shortened vegetation cycle triggered by the mild spring, but mainly by the intense heat in mid-August. Budding began in the first ten days of April. Fruiting began at Brancaia at the end of May and was completed on 10 June at Poppi.
The harvest began at Brancaia on 31 August with the Cabernet Sauvignon and was concluded with the Sangiovese on 29 September. Thus, Brancaia was spared the heavy rains that plagued Tuscany in October. Due to the high temperatures at the end of August, we initially feared that the musts could reach an excessive concentration at the cost of a balanced maturity. This concern proved to be unfounded. The yield reached only 70% of average harvest amounts.
The 2000 wines have an alcohol content of around 13% vol. and have an intense colour and structure. Their flavours are a typical expression of the Chianti Classico terroir.

The 1999 wine year

A climatically uniform winter without major cold spells in January and February with many sunny days which benefitted the work in the vineyard – the trimming, fertilization and tillage. The shoots of the vines emerged in the first week of April. The spring weather with normal temperatures and regular rains typical of this season led to the formation of a reserve of water in the soil. This was particularly important in order to survive the dry summer in Chianti well. The summer temperatures were not too high and ensured regular vine development until the grapes changed colour at the beginning of August. At the end of August, some welcome rain fell, which replenished the water deposits of the soil. September was dry and characterized by high temperature fluctuations between day and night. This allowed a healthy and perfect ripening of the grapes.
The harvest began with the Merlot at Poppi on 8 September and was completed on 1 October with the Sangiovese, also at Poppi. The yield was approximately 5,500 kg/ha (38 hl/ha). In spite of the high sugar content in the must, fermentation proceeded smoothly thanks to control of the temperature and use of selected yeasts.
The harvest of '99 was extremely successful. The Brancaia wines are likely to be the best so far.

The 1998 wine year

1998 was a year of extremely high temperatures. In February and March, high temperatures led to an early start of the growing phase of the vines. At Brancaia, bud formation of the Sangiovese had already begun at the end of March. Fortunately, the temperatures remained mild in April, banishing the very great danger of frost to the premature sprouting. The entire spring was marked by abundant rainfall. No rain fell, however, from early June until harvest. The second week of August caused a particular stir because temperatures reached 38°C! Thanks to the soil's good water-holding capacity and leaf thinning, the plants were spared a feared disruption of the maturation phase. Starting in early September, the temperatures fell and there was some rain. Due to these meteorological conditions, harvesting began very early. The Merlot harvest began on 10 September at Brancaia, and was completed on 7 October at Poppi with the Sangiovese.
The juice had a high sugar content, intense colour and an increased content of polyphenolic substances. Under these conditions, in 1998 we were able to produce great wines with a marked typicity, despite the atypical course of the summer.