Guido Berlucchi, Italy’s Classic Method pioneering producer and the very first to make a sparkling wine in Franciacorta, commenced its 2019 harvest today, bringing in the rich, golden-hued clusters of Chardonnay from its Spina vineyard in Cologne. As it has done every year since its founding in 1961, this renowned Franciacorta producer launched a ritual activity—at once ancient and cutting-edge—that embodies great challenges: striving for absolute quality, confronting climate change, and the significant responsibility of being an ambassador to the world of a growing area that showcases Italian winemaking excellence.
In the words of Arturo Ziliani, winery Director and Winemaker, the 2019 growing season “was characterised by an extraordinarily rainy May that caused shatter in the clusters, a consequent reduction in cluster quantity, and late flowering. Hot, dry summer months eventually yielded to sporadic rains during late summer, which had the beneficent effect of allowing the grapes to fully ripen. In addition, significant day-night temperature differentials encouraged full development of aromatic compounds in the grapes, so essential for a high-quality vintage.
“Just before the harvest started, the viticultural team performed a meticulous vineyard sampling, selectively picking a number of individual berries from every vine-row in order to gain an accurate overall quality picture of each vineyard parcel. So we were able to see that ripeness levels varied considerably from vineyard to vineyard at any given moment, which in turn allowed our harvest crew to perform a perfectly-timed picking of each parcel, at just the moment when the grapes were at peak ripeness.
“It is precisely these meticulous vineyard management practices,” continued Arturo Ziliani, “that make it possible for Berlucchi to obtain extremely high-quality musts from our finest vineyards, which then become optimal base wines for our exclusive, vintage-dated Franciacortas. Since these wines receive no sugar-syrup dosage, they are the purest expression of their growing area. In this way, our unique Franciacorta climate, unequalled elsewhere, combined with that painstaking vineyard work and with our near-obsessive attention to working with the grapes and the musts, makes it possible to achieve a perfect balance between acidity, smoothness, and a non-dosage structure.
“I am fairly optimistic about this vintage, but it is becoming increasingly essential to adopt vineyard practices and technologies that will help us meet the challenges of obvious climate change. And the best way to achieve, at one and the same time, this goal and maximum quality is to take advantage of the enormous expertise and sensitivity of a team of talented, committed professionals—which is just what we have here at Guido Berlucchi.”
Relying on the ground-breaking spirit that has always marked this “founder of Franciacorta,” Guido Berlucchi has launched a partnership this year with Antares Vision, a quintessentially Italian leader on a global scale of visual inspection technologies. The project research centres on in-vineyard experimentation with innovative hyper-spectral technology, one of the very first initiatives of this kind in the world. The experimentation involves preventive monitoring of berry health and disease sensitivity and appropriate treatments—always strictly within the parameters of organic viticulture—applied to individual clusters, with the goal of ever-improved sustainable viticulture.
Exactly like the vines it cultivates, Berlucchi remains deeply rooted in tradition, but at the same time unceasingly extends its shoots towards a virtuous and beneficent innovation.