For those who, like Paolo Tiefenthaler, can competently and personally attest to the traits of the last 35 vintages, the following scenario becomes clear: early years and late seasons’ harvests, which differ physiologically from one another, are dangerously marked not just by temperature increases but also by the events’ haughtiness, the rarity of the phenomenon, and the violent depletion of the plant’s equilibrium conditions.
Two interconnected questions arise: until when will this change be controllable? And what can the winemaker do to manage these unpredictable effects in the vineyard?
Casale del Giglio’s response at the moment is primarily agronomic; they work appropriately in the cellar, and the oenological method can only go so far; the real challenge must be taken up in terms of vineyard management.
The attention in the vineyard, which was once critical particularly during the summer months, must be anticipated even before flowering, to create the conditions for a performing plant at the time of fruiting, a plant that knows how to express vigor and fruitfulness.
First and foremost, it’s clear that the age of the vineyard makes a significant difference: in such circumstances, the old vine undoubtedly demonstrates superior defensive capability and stress resistance; its growth is more steady and less exuberant, whereas the recent vineyard, with its youthful vitality, risks erupting and collapsing with a quick and severe shift in weather conditions.
Secondly, we cannot overlook the fact that some varieties are more resistant to the excesses of current climates. Petit Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc among the whites exhibit greater resistance to climatic stress than other varieties; a separate discussion for the Bellone, which is genetically predisposed to thrive in dry climates and thrives on sands, but which, given the extreme water shortage to which we are now accustomed, will be able to benefit from a gradual shift towards the interior, on more fertile soils. Petit Verdot and Shiraz hold up better than Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Slow ripening and self-regulation are frequent characteristics of resistant cultivars. Plants of these types are more equipped to yield fruit in balance because of their natural defenses against disease and resistance to crazy conditions.
According to Paolo Tiefenthaler, “Our research project is currently gradually moving towards the enhancement of vines, whether autochthonous in the strict sense or adapted, but in any case identifying for our terroir, which are better equipped to win the battle of the climate: in short, the “autochthonous” vines of the future. However, producing a wine that is in place and capable of resisting over time obviously remains central to our oenological objectives”.