The spring begins on 23 March but this year, climatically speaking, it has begun much before.
The temperatures of the last weeks have been very high, much above the average, and the forecasts say that the springtime temperatures of this year will be higher than the 2007 vintage, which was the warmest vintage since 1800.
On the other hand, we have had an autumn and a winter with little rainfall and the snowfall has helped but has not resolved the water problem.
The forecasts says that it will rain little from March to May, especially in the center north and this will only increase the problem of the drought.
This climatic framework worries us because although at the moment the plants do not have water problems, the continuing of the drought or even just the low rainfall will create water problems going forward, even though these forecasts can be inexact being that they are based on mathematical models.
In the light of the weather over the last years and the predictions for 2012, I think — actually, I am increasingly convinced — that for our appellations it is important to insert into the rules for production the possibility of emergency irrigation. It would allow wineries to mitigate the high summer temperatures. But it would also help the vines to surpass critical periods of drought.
Let us debunk the common misconception that irrigation serves solely to increase production. Today, the appellation rules establish low yields and monitoring is implemented in the vineyard to see if these yields are real. For this reason, we would be opening a practice that can only help to raise the quality when there is need because of climatic capriciousness. But until today, not having this possibility, the growers of Montalcino will use the agronomic techniques that they possess to manage their vineyard the best that they can.
Having had other vintages similar to this, I am sure that every grower will face this in the best ways to deliver ripe grapes at harvest, healthy fruit that has not been compromised by the drought.
Fabrizio Bindocci, winemaker, Tenuta Il Poggione