Barolo 2015: The Growing Season

We are very grateful to Ferruccio Grimaldi for his in-depth 2015 Growing Season Report below, identifying the key events and elements that affected the 2015 vintage…

The 2014 climatic trend has brought an important water reserve that has favoured the cycle of the vines throughout the 2015’s vegetative year, especially during the warmest weeks of the year. The total rainfall of the past year was about 1250 mm, including 270 mm in November and 70 mm in December.

Winter 2015 was quite mild. In January the days with the minimum temperatures below zero were only 5 while we had 2 days with maximum temperatures close to 20 °C. The most abundant snowfall of the year was on the 5th and on the 6th of February with about 60 cm in Serralunga, La Morra, and Novello and 30 cm in the lower areas of Castiglione Falletto. In the same month there were only 2 days with minimum temperatures below -2 °C. March was a warm month with only a few days of abundant rainfall and as a curiosity, in the whole month 220 mm of rain were registered in La Morra. April was warm as well although with good temperature excursion between day and night.

For half of the month the temperatures were above 20 °C with regular rain but never abundant. In this situation the vines have had an exceptional vegetative growth with a noticeable difference between the most exposed and the less exposed areas. The first green tips appeared on March 30th in the most exposed areas and one week later in the fresher areas. On April 24th, the Nebbiolo’s shoots were already 30 centimetres long, like the Barbera from the best areas.

May was warm with few rainy events so the shoots lengthened quickly and on the 18th of May the Nebbiolo was already in full flower, while the other varieties followed one week later. The fruit setting on the Nebbiolo was characterised by a significant early drop because of the cold air currents at the end of the month.

June started with high temperatures. Initially the maximum temperatures always exceeded 30 °C and there were only few days with moderate rainfall (30 mm). July was exceptional and the wine-growing year took a turn. The good weather conditions favoured the beginning of veraison which slowed down towards the end due to excessive heat. August was warm as well with some light rain – never abundant, except on the 15th of August when 15 mm of rain fell, which was ideal for the continuation of the veraison and the maturation of all the grape varietals. From mid-month the night temperatures dropped and continued like this until the harvest. By the end of August the temperature had decreased and the veraison in a few days reached a good percentage: on the 30th of August the Dolcetto was 80% invaded, the Barbera 40% and the Nebbiolo 30%. The regularity of the veraison allowed for thinning out variety by variety.

The harvest began at beginning of September with the Sauvignon Blanc and the Arneis. The Dolcetto and the Barbera were picked during the first half of September, gradually with extreme regularity, thanks to the few rainy events and the regular maturation.

We had rain three times in the month of September, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the month. This was the perfect situation for the phenolic ripening of the Nebbiolo that (even at the beginning of September) had good technological ripeness. The harvest of the Nebbiolo started in late September and ended on the 10th of October. The water reserve allowed the plants, even in hot weeks, to never go into stress and the regularity of rainfall in August and September have led to a truly exceptional year.