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The Nizza Vintages
The year 202021 was the 15th warmest in the past 64 years, with an average temperature of approx. 9.9°C
With this sentence, it can be easily guessed that this temperature ranking will be probably destined to grow in the future.
Relying on historical averages of measurement with reference to a specific period of time, such as a year (or longer periods), is certainly important in terms of statistics and historicity. Nevertheless, it loses the reference on what really happens during the particular year, as we have now entered a new cycle, characterized by climate change, with sudden and extreme climatic phenomena many times localized in very narrow areas.
Example of what has just been said is that, in spite of the hot and dry and droughty year, there were flood phenomena in the month of October on days 3-4-5, with localized and violent rainfall across the Ligurian-Piedmont Apennines.
2021 opens with heavy rainfall in January, tracing the pattern of the final months of 2020.
However, this precipitation quickly wanes as early as February and March, persisting until April, characterizing a dry and precipitation-free end of winter.
April opens with days 7-8, where a late frost affects some territories in spots, especially the valley bottoms and up the hillsides up to 300 mt.
At times that causes widespread damage on the most developed buds (black frost – a frost without ice formation on the vegetation with temperatures around - 4° C).
Fortunately, not all vine shoots were equally developed in length, so damage in the end was minimal, around 10%. April then continued, with low temperatures and minimal precipitation until May.
From the last decade of May through June temperatures began to rise and with them the arrival of thunderstorms, sometimes followed by hail.
In fact, important rainfall patterns are outlined among the different viticulture areas of Piedmont, with almost dry areas and others with good rain provisions.
July, August and September continue to present this situation, where in some places violent thunderstorms break out, while other areas do not experience a single mm. of rain.
July and August are also characterized by a temperature trend, different between the middle of the month and the end: first half of July and August has been very warm, second half of the months very cool.
In October, cold and humid currents begin to make incursions. In the first half of the month heavy rainfall hit some confined sectors of the Alexandrian plain, rising toward the Apennines.
Overall in spite of these latest rainfall inputs, precipitation is below average with a deficit, depending on the area, of 50 – 80% less rainfall.

Spring vegetative awakening remains delayed due to the cold weather in April and May.
With the last decade of May, temperatures begin to rise again and, thanks to the first thunderstorms of June, the vegetation delay quickly recovers, with late budding phase in the first decade of June.
By the end of June, the cluster closure phase takes place.
This is followed by the veraison phase, which begins in mid-July and ends in the first decade of August. In the same month, there has been a thermal peak that, although briefly, caused some burns on the most exposed bunches.

The harvest starts about a week early with generally excellent analytical data, with excellent grape health, sugars, ph and acidity ideal for perfect grape ripening.
2021 vintage with excellent musts for color, sugary content, phenolic maturity and acidity, which could potentially give Nizza wines high persistence and longevity.
The months of November and December 2019 closed the year with mild temperatures for the season, with little or no rainfall or snow. January recorded above-zero temperatures, making it the fourth warmest January in the last 63 years. This was a thermal anomaly, in a month strangely characterised by fog - little precipitation - no snow and mild temperatures well above zero. February followed the same anomalous trend, with the temperature reaching as high as 20°C on 3 February. Rainfall continued to be almost absent. March was the month that recorded the lowest temperature in the whole winter (- 4.5°C on 26 March). April followed with mild temperatures until the 19th-21st, when the first rain fell, influencing the weather until the end of the month. May was a rainy month (10th-11th – 14th-15th - thunder storms – 20th) with temperatures climbing to 26/27°C. All three spring months were warmer than average for the season. Rain continued to fall during June, with thunderstorms on the 3rd-5th. Temperatures dropped as low as 14.5°C on the 9th-10th with the arrival of a depression from Scandinavia and the relative formation of violent thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds. July was the hottest month, with temperatures of 33.5/34°C and considerable instability, caused by the excessive heat and the arrival of cooler fronts. One of these “contrasts” favoured the thunderstorm that took place on the 31st of July and the 1st of August, with violent gales and scattered hailstorms. After the first week of the month, which was unstable, August continued with very high temperatures, reaching as high as 33-34°C, until the end of the month, which closed with more violent thunderstorms from the 28th to the 30th. All-in-all, the summer was hot but not dry, with rainfall above average for the period. September presented more instability in the first week, after which things settled down, with mild temperatures continuing almost until the end of the month. There was a sharp drop in temperature between the 25th and 28th, to 11.8/12°C, which was unusual for the month, and this was accompanied by instability, with scattered rainfall here and there throughout the Nizza area.

The grapes presented excellent levels of sugar and phenolic maturity (ripening of the seeds and skin), as well as impeccable bunch health (no damage due to pathogenic fungi).
This, together with ideal temperatures and weather for harvesting, meant that the potential quality of the grapes was excellent. From the first pressing of the grapes and the start of fermentation of the musts, it was possible to appreciate not only the richness of the excellent aromas of fruit but also the deep, intense red colour that was gradually extracted from the skins.
We could describe 2019 as “an eventful year” due to the weather, with great climatic variability squeezed into a single vintage: an anomalous warm and dry winter; an extremely variable spring with a record temperature range, culminating in April with very low temperatures; almost tropical weather, with high temperatures between the end of June and the beginning of July.
Rain and thunderstorms characterised the central months of July and August.
A combination of hot and cold weather, drought and an abundance of water put a strain on the vines, which initially accelerated some vegetative phases and then suddenly slowed down others.
All these “ingredients”, together with the great work of the winegrowers in the vineyard, contributed to creating the 2019 vintage. Vintages should never be compared because each one is unique, but if we were to make an attempt at comparison, 2019 shows some affinities and similarities with 2007 (very early budding) and 2016 (cold spring temperatures).
The weather during the harvest was good on average, with a few thunderstorms that helped lower temperatures.

The grapes harvested were in very good/excellent health and yielded musts with a deep violet red colour, with excellent sugar, polyphenolic and acidic richness.
They resulted in beautifully coloured Nizza Docg wines with rich violet highlights, balanced, with good acidity, savoury and well- structured, with considerable propensity for evolution over time.
The 2018 vintage will be remembered as the result of a combination of two factors:
-numerous difficulties in terms of phytoiatric defence and extreme commitment to vineyard management in order to monitor the vegetative development initially of the vine and then of the grapes.
-high potential grape yields, with no hail in July and August. Winter 2017/2018 began with mild temperatures and rainfall in the first week of January, with peaks of 100 mm of rain on the 8th.
The situation was similar in February, with mild temperatures considering the time of year and widespread rainfall until the end of the month. March brought a significant drop in temperature, reaching extreme sub-zero temperatures (-16°C). The rainfall continued and there was more frost on the 19th and 20th. March was the coldest month of the 2017/2018 winter season. Spring commenced with a more consistent April, with normal rainfall and a gradual increase in temperature, reaching peaks of 25/30° C between the 20th and 26th. Nevertheless, the budding of the vines began about 10-12 days later than average. May was the most anomalous month of the year, opening with mild temperatures reflecting the average for the time of year, but with frequent and persistent rainfall, almost every weekend, with between 12 and 20 days of rain, two to three times the average for the month. It continued to rain until about the 10th of June, after which the weather and temperatures stabilised, and it was only towards the end of the month that thunderstorms reappeared. July and August were characterised by good weather and warm temperatures, above average for the period, with peaks of 33/35 °C in August. When this happens, violent thunderstorms arrive, sometimes with hail, and this affected the whole territory, in patches here and there. Another anomaly of the 2018 vintage was that, despite the late start to budding, veraison took place in July, around 12-15 days earlier than usual. This shows just how much the vine is able to recover in terms of vegetative development. September began with more storms, in the first ten days of the month, and then continued until mid-October with average temperatures and a stable climate, excellent for the optimal ripening of the grapes.

The harvest of the Barbera grapes for the production of Nizza began between the 25th and 27th of September and continued until the first week of October, varying from one municipality to the other, depending on exposure and the thinning operations that had been carried out. The quality of the grapes ranged from good to excellent, with rich anthocyanins and beautifully ripe seeds, along with a relatively good dosage of polyphenols. Apart from those damaged by hail, the grapes were healthy, with nicely coloured, thick, whole skins. The potential alcohol content at harvest averaged at between 14.00% and 14.50%.
2017 was the third hottest year in Piedmont for the past sixty years, with temperatures averaging out about +1.5 °C higher than those recorded for the last thirty.
The characterising feature of 2017 was undoubtedly “thermal anomaly”.
Early budding in March led to extensive growth of the vine buds.
Severe frost hit the whole of Northern Europe in April (18/23/04/17) before moving southwards to the Italian region of Apulia, causing very serious damage in Piedmont along the way.
Very high summer temperatures, with peaks of over 40-42°C, and early budding created the conditions for a very early grape harvest.
In terms of climate, the year was characterised by on-going, stable sunny weather and virtually no rain at all. Temperatures were the highest on record for the area.
The total rainfall in the Nizza area during 2017 amounted to approximately 370 mm, with just 149 mm during the vegetative period between April and September and a deficit of more than 33% compared to the average recorded from 1971 to 2000. This made it the fourth driest year for sixty years.

The Barbera vine requires lots of warmth and long exposure to the sun and so was able to fully exploit the high temperatures.
The grapes with the greatest exposure to the sun accumulated considerable amounts of sugar and polyphenolic substances, resulting in wines with an excellent structure and dry extract.
Fortunately, acidity, which remained high thanks to the slight dehydration of the grapes, allows a perfect balance between the structure and the high alcohol content of the wines of this vintage, which are fresh and look set to have a very long cellar-life.
The grape harvest began sooner than usual, during the week between the end of August and the beginning of September. The 2017 grape harvest was the harvest with the second lowest yield since the end of the Second World War.
The drop in grape production in Nizza was around 18/20%.

2016 was more regular than 2014 (characterised by a cool climate with abundant rainfall) and 2015 (characterised by severe hydric and thermal stress, with temperatures peaking at above 30°C). The vintage was born in the wake of a very dry end to 2015 (November - December), continuing through January with just a few episodes of light rainfall. February brought abundant rainfall, on occasions with over 100-120 mm, and temperatures well above average for the time of year. Early spring (March - April) with temperatures continuing to be above average, with consequent early phenological development of the vine. The month of May changed things radically, with sudden, severe drops in temperatures and a marked deceleration of budding. This delayed flowering until early June and the process extended for about a week due to cool temperatures and rain. The summer months were characterised by more or less average temperatures but there were several thunderstorms (with some very high winds, rain and hail) in the Nizza Docg production zone in June and July. Higher than average temperatures continued throughout August and September, stretching beyond mid-October with ideal conditions for the ripening of the grapes. Analysing the level of rainfall from June to September 2016, figures showed a deficit of 30-40% compared to the historical average rainfall of the area. This led to marked drought conditions in some hilly areas, also as a result of the average temperatures, which were higher than usual from January to September. The heat reached its peak in the summer and particularly in September, with abnormally high temperatures for the time of year. Another anomaly that characterised 2016 was the absence of a real winter, with mild temperatures and an absence of snow and frost.

Veraison began in the first ten days of August, with ideal temperatures, hot but within the average range for the period. Some hailstorms affected the area around Castelnuovo Calcea and Agliano. The grapes continued to ripen throughout August and September, until the middle of October, thanks to weather which was well-ventilated, hot and dry, without every reaching drought conditions.
The grapes were perfectly healthy without any signs of fungal diseases. The “Mediterranean climate” will make 2016 one of the most memorable years in recent decades. The quality of the grapes was excellent, with perfect levels of sugar and phenolic maturity, ideal for the production of great wines.
(average sugar content in Babo : 22/22.50 with peaks of up to 24/25 )

The winter was characterised by a considerable amount of snow until around the middle of February. The first snow fell on the 20th of November and continued during December, January and part of February, with harsh temperatures, but never below 5 °C.
March began with very cold temperatures, and this was followed by abundant rainfall. The vegetative process began at the beginning of April, about ten days later than usual.
Occasional rain in May, along with several very hot days, brought the blossoming of the vines forward. Above-average temperatures and an absence of rain in June and July accelerated the ripening phases. A few storms in August cooled the temperatures down and brought some much-needed water, and cool temperatures during the night made it possible for the grapes to ripen perfectly.
A regular September gave us a five-star harvest.

Carefully monitoring the ripening process, we began harvesting after the first ten days in September. The grapes were healthy and reached an excellent sugar content, allowing us to achieve high levels of alcohol and balanced acidity. As regards polyphenols, the healthy grape skins gave us brightly coloured wines with intense and elegant aromas, and outstanding structure.
This is one of our finest vintages, with wines destined to age for a very long time.

A vintage that progressed at two speeds, passing from early vegetation, thanks to a quite mild winter without evident drops in temperature and a spring which began with normal rainfall but higher than average temperatures, to a delay due to a cool, wet summer. The first indications came in mid-June, when rain alternated with fine days. Then, in July, the anticyclone that brings the hot weather failed to build up (apart from a few days in the middle of the month) and this, coupled with abundant rainfall, slowed down development, ensuring that veraison was perfectly timed.

A drier August, but with periods of cloudy weather and cool, humid currents, meant that the vines ripened in conditions which weren’t ideal, but, fortunately, sunnier, more stable weather in September helped things considerably, allowing the later ripening varieties to recover. The best results were obtained in soils with lower water reserves and excellent exposure, with average levels of acidity and good alcohol contents for the vintage, deep colour and structured wines with an excellent bouquet.

2013 will be remembered as one of the latest harvests in recent decades.
The prolonged winter and low temperatures in April delayed budding and the abundant rain that fell between March and May kept winegrowers busy fighting disease in the vines. The climate stabilised in June and July and rising temperatures, along with less rain, allowed the vines to vegetate properly.
A violent whirlwind with hailstones in the Nizza area at the end of July also caused severe damage to the vineyards. The wines are deep in colour, with excellent structure and strength.

Progress from veraison to maturity, with sunny days and little rainfall, was ideal for late ripening varieties like Barbera, which ripened perfectly in the “Nizza” vineyards with best exposure to the sun, offering more sustained acid (more malic) and sugar concentrations above 21° Babo.

We will always remember summer 2012 as one of the hottest and driest in the past 50 years.
There was a marked absence of rain and snow during the winter, with average temperatures for the time of year (December/January). An anomalous February with polar temperatures, with lows of -20°C for a period of about 10-12 days, and abundant snowfall (about one metre), was followed by a rainy spring, lasting from mid-April to mid-May.
These rains allowed a good accumulation of water in the ground which, together with that of the melted winter snow, provided an exceptional reserve for the vines in the months of June, July and August, when it was really hot and dry.
All of this translated into early ripening, facilitated even more by rain which came just at the right time, at the beginning of September, offering some respite from the stifling summer heat.
The first Barbera grapes were harvested in mid-September.

Thanks to a hot August and marked differences between diurnal and nocturnal temperatures, the first Barbera grapes were harvested in mid-September. Characterised by good acidity and an excellent alcohol content, they had lots of polyphenolic substance (deep colours) and great structure, which will ensure the wine a long cellar life.
We are going to have balanced and elegant Barbera of outstanding quality.

2011 was a quite wet year, with only slightly less rainfall than in 2008, 2009 and 2010. From the point of view of active temperatures, the year was the hottest since 2003.
After a rather mild winter with almost no precipitation, March opened with snow, falling on two occasions, and a higher than usual amount of water. A very hot April and a May with summer temperatures were followed by a very unstable June with intense rain and violent storms.
July and August were also quite unstable, and September brought temperatures well above average, with a few rainstorms accompanied by hail and strong winds.

2010 differed considerably from previous years in terms of temperature and rainfall. Winter was very long and rainy, with frequent snow and lower than average temperatures.
In terms of temperature, the months of January – February – March and August were colder than average. April was slightly milder, and June and September were in line with the seasonal average. Temperatures climbed above average only in July.
There was more water than average, with rainfall distributed evenly throughout the whole year.

2009 was very different to the previous two years.
Autumn-winter rainfall, considered by the National Research Centre to be among the heaviest since 1803, replenished the water reserves that had been impoverished in previous years. The bizarre spring was characterised by very unusual and erratic conditions.
Summer began with rain but, as it progressed, temperatures rose well above the seasonal average, being some of the highest in the last 50 years.
In the north, the month of September was characterised by a lack of rainfall and by very broad temperature ranges which made it possible to achieve a long and evenly spaced harvest.

The Barbera harvest began in the second ten days of September.
Production enjoyed an average increase of 15% on the previous year, thanks to very limited loss of flowers, extremely fertile buds and sufficient water in the soil.
Quality was good throughout the region, with several points of excellence in Barbera d’Asti.

In the vineyard, the 2008 vintage began according to schedule in spring, thanks to a quite mild winter. The vines bloomed when it was cold and rainy, causing a reduction in grape production of certain early-ripening varieties (Moscato, Brachetto), due to the loss of flowers.
The other, later-ripening varieties, including Barbera, however, were less affected by this problem. Summer was characterised by rapid climate changes, with some very hot and sunny days and others that were cold and wet.
The season came to an excellent end, with hot, sunny days and cold nights, which allowed the grapes to ripen slowly and favoured the development of aromatic substances.

Having started off in far from easy climatic conditions, the season ended with a lively recovery, and 2008 can be considered a good if not excellent vintage.
The Barbera harvest began right at the beginning of October. The whole harvest period was characterised by very sunny days with a good temperature range. The grapes picked were very healthy and of the finest quality. The damages caused by springtime disease were largely mitigated and work in the vineyard had a determining effect on achieving high quality levels.
The sugar content recorded higher than average values, balanced with the acid component that favoured a correct fermentation process.

The 2007 grape harvest was one of the earliest in the last 70 years and was characterised by prolonged drought from the end of October to the beginning of May, interrupted by some storms, which only partly restored the water reserves.
The weather continued to be hot and dry. Higher than average temperatures in winter and spring resulted in the vines flowering 15 to 20 days earlier than usual.
The climate trend during the harvesting period was characterised by hot, sunny days, interrupted by necessary rain at the end of August, which balanced the ripening of the red grapes. Daytime and night-time temperatures remained high until the middle of September, when they were replaced by more appropriate temperature ranges.

The Barbera harvest began in the first ten days of September. The grape health was excellent.
Production was an average 20% down on the previous year, partly justified by the reduced size of the berries and the undamaged, consistent skins.
The sugar content, which can determine alcohol contents of up to 15% in red grape varieties, was rather high. The high alcohol content was balanced by the acidity. The intensity of colour was very interesting, particularly in Barbera.

The 2006 climate trend was highly favourable for vines: vegetative development got off to a late start but recovered due to the warm weather in June and July.
Low temperatures in August regulated the vegetative progress. There was a return to high temperatures at the beginning of September, lasting until the 20th of October.
Three days of much-needed and particularly heavy rainfall, one at the end of August and two in the second half of September, together with very broad temperature ranges, favoured exemplary ripening of the different grape varieties.

The Barbera harvest began in the last ten days of September.
Cool temperatures in late summer favoured balanced ripening. The Barbera presented a good concentration of polyphenols. This was a good year for Barbera, producing concentrated but very elegant wines.

2005 was characterised by an anomalous but more than satisfactory climate trend.
The winter was quite mild with little precipitation, and this was followed by a cool, largely dry start to spring. A marked rise in temperatures characterised the end of spring and the start of summer. July was initially cool, with an absence of rainfall and very hot temperatures in the second half of the month.
August had below average temperatures and no heavy rain. September was initially rainy, with a subsequent rise in temperatures to summer levels. There were a few days of rain in October, which did not, however, affect the harvesting activities.

The Barbera harvest began right at the beginning of October. Slightly cooler temperatures for most of the summer, with broader temperature ranges, contributed to the formation of a consistent aromatic complexity.
The gradual ripening of the grapes generated wines with a good alcohol content, nicely sustained by balanced acidity. Lower yields compared to 2004 and grapes with the right contents created wines with good colours and finely fruity aromas.
The 2005 vintage will be remembered for fresh, aromatic and elegant wines with a good structure.

Heavy precipitations at the beginning of 2004, added to those of autumn 2003, made it possible to restore the soil’s water reserves, reduced considerably following summer 2003, which was characterised by little rainfall and very high temperatures.
A snowy winter with rather stiff temperatures was followed by a spring characterised by lots of rainfall, continuing into the beginning of May. This postponed the start of the vine budding phase.
The following months were characterised by summer temperatures that were never excessively high, with an almost total absence of humidity and rainfall. These conditions allowed the good development of the bunches, which reached medium-large dimensions. The late start to budding and summer temperatures which were never excessively high allowed the vines to develop correctly. However, at the end of August, the presumed ripening date was at least ten days behind schedule.

A good harvest in general with peaks of excellence. Healthy grapes that limited intervention with plant treatments, perfect malic and tartaric acid, high extracts and splendid colour.
The Barberas were excellent, benefiting from perfectly gradual ripening. This gave rich and balanced wines with a wide variety of aromas.

The 2003 climate trend was characterised throughout by stable, sunny conditions and an almost complete absence of rainfall. This combination of factors caused temperatures to rise to the highest levels on record for the area, maintaining them over an exceptionally long period.
The year was particularly dry, with rainfall levels by the end of August reaching just 265 mm compared with 830 mm in 2002 and 390 mm in 1997 (on the same date).

In 2003, Barbera was one of the grape varieties that benefited most from the anomalous summer climate trend.
The harvesting operations began earlier than ever before, at the beginning of September. The accumulation of sugars in the berries was exceptional everywhere. The fixed acidity in the Barbera reached excellent levels, with an optimum ratio between malic and tartaric acid.

Considering the poor seasonal trend, the members of the Association decided not to produce NIZZA.

Winter 2001 was characterised by a higher amount of rainfall than in previous years.
Good availability of water in the soil and higher than seasonal average temperatures favoured early budding, from March. There was little rainfall in April but unstable weather conditions with the lowest temperature of the year (-5°C) and evident damages, also occurring in the vineyards.
There was no significant rainfall in the months that followed, but the rains from earlier in the year allowed the correct vegetative development of the vines.
A hot-humid climate and complete absence of rainfall in August and at the beginning of September favoured the ripening process. Temperatures fell over the following days, and some rain slowed down the ripening of the medium to late-ripening grape varieties, without influencing quality.

The Barbera grape harvest began in the third week of September. Frost in mid-April lowered the yield. In general, the musts presented more than satisfactory analytical parameters, with high sugar contents and balanced average acidity.

The winter was mild with very little snowfall, favouring the early budding of all grape varieties.
A wet spring was followed by a long, sunny and windy period, during which the fruit-setting phase (passage from flower to fruit) was followed by the swelling of the berries.
Veraison, the colouring of the berry, took place as usual, in favourable atmospheric conditions. From mid-August to mid-September, Southern Piedmont enduredanticyclones which treated the area to a long period of sunshine. From the second fortnight of September, there was a progressive change in atmospheric conditions, with the alternation of cloudy periods and sunny days.

The result of this vintage was clearly positive in terms of quality. A slight delay in budding but subsequent phases of earlier ripening brought the harvest forward by several days compared to the previous year.
If the anomalous heat at certain times during the year, especially in August, favoured ripening, frequent rainfall created problems in defence against downy mildew, which was particularly aggressive.
The Barbera reached excellent alcohol contents, with average acidity values, high phenolic richness and very intense and persistent aromas.