As in 2016, this year’s grape harvest has been affected by extremely low rainfall in Sicily. Not only were the late winter and springtime rains practically absent, but the summer’s acute heat and drought worsened soil and vineyard aridity. In the Duca di Salaparuta Estates, however, we handled this situation well, thanks to a capillary irrigation system and especially to our careful choice of land. The Duca di Salaparuta Estate vineyards, in fact, are all situated at favourable altitudes, are well ventilated, and are positioned far from the coastline, all of which limited the negative climatic problems.
In particular, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio vines showed their distress, while native varieties such as Grillo, Zibibbo, Nero d’Avola and Insolia maintained a high quality, thanks to their centuries of adaptation to Sicily’s special heat and dryness. In any case, once vinified and processed, the wine is displaying undeniably fine qualities, thanks above all to our careful work and the choices we have made in recent years. The 2017 harvest was intense and brief, with average yields in the field frequently down by around 30%, which has logically led to reduced production in the wine cellar too. This has created notable difficulties for vineyards and caused a rise in the price of various grape varieties.
Due to the extreme climatic conditions, the grape harvest had to be anticipated, for all varieties. In some cases this meant harvesting as much as 10 days earlier than average, and 20 days earlier than 2016. For Chardonnay, grape-picking began right at the beginning of August, while native varieties like Grillo and Insolia began in mid-August, and Nero d’Avola started in the third week of September. The harvesting of Nerello Mascalese grapes, in the Vajasindi Estate on Mount Etna, however, respected its normal harvest dates. This meant unfavourable weather conditions, with low temperatures and rain… but despite this, grape quality featured excellent acidity equilibrium, a condition common to all grape varieties in the 2017 harvest.
After our first tasting tests in the wine cellars, we can safely say that the 2017 harvest is generally characterised by complex fragrances and rich potential on the palate. Perhaps the whites will slightly lack in sensorial elegance and sophistication on the palate… but wines like Colomba Platino, Kados and Passo delle Mule promise to offer a highly pleasurable sensorial balance. Pinot Nero and Nerello Mascalese from the Vajasindi Estate promise a fascinating year for Etna-grown wines such as Sciaranèra, Nawàri and Làvico. Roughly 75,000 quintals of grape have been vinified on site in Aspra: a reduced quantity, due to the low grape yield of vineyards in general.