Chianti Classico vintage 2008

'Another great Classico vintage', reports the not-totally-objective press office of the Chianti Classico Consorzio (the regulatory and promotional body for the region) now that the 2008 harvest is complete. They give their reasons for such an upbeat assessment below. (The Gallo Nero is the black rooster that features on the bottle seals of wines from this region, as shown here.) Overall, the assessment is quantity down and quality up, or at least 'on a par with recent vintages' (though they don't say which), promising 'elegance and excellent fragrances'.

There was a slight decrease in quantity, about 8% less, but not as heavy as was feared this summer. In fact, the rain and low temperatures in May and June kept many flowers from setting and in some cases made it necessary to give the vines protective treatments against fungus and mould. But in the most important grape growing period nature was kind.

The hot, dry summer was perfectly counterbalanced by mid-August rains, when a number of storms brought the vines respite and gave them new energy.

Excellent temperature ranges from late August to early September were a big help in the last ripening stage for the grapes, this year picked a little later than usual (about ten days later than previous harvests). So the grapes were picked at a time more traditional for Chianti Classico, between the end of September and beginning of October, when the grapes grown in the higher areas of the territory had fully completed their ripening.

In spite of the problems arising late in the spring, the grapes were healthy when picked and in the cellar are proving somewhat less acid than in recent years, raising hopes for elegance in the wines as well as excellent aromas.

The alcoholic fermentation begun in recent days was quite fast at the start because the grapes had ripened so well and in a number of cases was immediately followed by the start of malolactic fermentation.