It’s mid September 2020 and the Indian summer has little intention of heading south. At least not yet.

Here in Friuli Venezia Giulia daytime temperatures continue to hover around 30°C where they’ve been holding steady since the beginning of the month. Being at least 10 degrees above the seasonal average, coupled with the absence of rain, judging by winemaking faces, grape picking continues to be a cool early morning pleasure.

With such continuous heat, maintaining grape acidity is the prime focus.

To this end, the harvest of the more precocious varieties, like Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Nero (the latter two being picked for sparkling wines), already took place towards the end of August. As of September 17th what remains in the yard are the last of the local white varieties including Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia and Verduzzo Friulano. Those with intentions of making sweet passito wines appear to have additional options this year including the opportunity to consider further hang time for the bunches on the vine.

In terms of the black grape harvest, it is clear to see how their current path to maturity is benefiting hugely from the prevailing 14-15°C diurnal temperature variation. With such a difference between day and night time temperatures, one can’t imagine how conditions could be any more ideal.

As we stand, vintage 2020 bears all the hallmarks of the exceptional 2018 vintage and therefore looks set to deliver another excellent red crop. Added to recent high performance red vintages like 2012, 2015, 2016 and the yet to be released 2019, 2020 is surely going to add further weight to Friuli’s evolutionary red winemaking credentials.

Of course such conditions don’t necessarily make for a total winemaking cake walk. There are negative consequences to consider most particularly high sugar levels and low acidity, which can result in excessively high alcohol wines with high residual sugar and little evolutionary potential. You see, whatever the perceived gains might be on the swings can quickly be lost on the roundabouts.

As in every aspect of life, balance is essential. The eternal search for it in these uncertain times means that growers, winemakers and consorzi need more than ever to be proactive in their response to climate events that are trending toward the extreme. Let’s be clear, climate change is not at all good for life on earth.

Sadly the first year of the new decade has been a year of deadly extremes. No doubt our generation will long remember it. My own online absence was notable, but even though I went missing, I was most definitely not lost in action.

In the face of working restrictions due to COVID-19, I found myself glued to both paper, computer keyboard and screen pulling together almost 5 years of loose ends, those divined from my study project on the life and times of Pignolo, it’s vineyards and it’s people. As was the case for most of you, lockdown’s immobilising effect afforded me a prolonged period of reflection, leading to countless rewrites, all I trust were for the ultimate benefit of the finished work. With the hard yards now complete and the script finally edited, the inscribed leaves are currently undergoing their final graphic makeover. Printing and publication is due for November 2020, fingers crossed as they say.

Hugely excited as I am to talk about it, I will do so in due course. But right now, as the Pignolo 2020 harvest looms into view, I’ve finally decided this is the moment to get back in THENATIVEGRAPES ‘posting’ saddle.

It’ll take time for each of us to recapture our rhythm but I trust that time will help fix that.
Wishing you continued well being.
Stay safe and I’ll post again soon.

Fix You – Coldplay

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