Italy’s Tuscany - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Italy’s Tuscany

Chianti Classico


Cooler than average temperatures in April and May, along with frost in some areas, led to a reduction in crop size of about ten percent compared to 2019. The remaining fruit achieved excellent ripeness thanks to moderate temperatures in June and July, allowing for slow ripening and development of the clusters. Just as conditions began to look parched, rains arrived in June and September to revive and freshen the vines. The top wines are similar to those from 2019, but with a bit more richness and structure.


A cool spring and significant rain in May brought a slow start to the growing season but prepared the vines for a hot and dry summer. Temperatures climbed quickly in June and stayed high most of the summer, but without significant heat spikes. Cooler nights and a few brief but heavy rainfalls helped refresh the vines, while stable weather in September and October allowed the grapes to ripen fully and evenly, with the possibility for balanced wines with smooth, ripe tannins and fresh acidity.



The 2017 growing season was hot and dry in Montalcino, as it was in many other parts of Tuscany. The downside is that production was decreased due to dehydration, and it was important to make a severe selection to weed out any dried berries. On the other hand, some producers report that they barely had to touch the vines because the dry conditions precluded any issues with rot. Harvest was early, especially for vineyards with younger vines; older, deeper rooted vines survived the drought more successfully. This is a year to choose carefully; the better wines tend to be generous and dark-fruited, with ripe, chewy tannins, while less successful examples can show green tannins and vegetal notes along with overripe and even raisinated flavors.


This was a benchmark vintage in Montalcino. Spring was cool and rainy, followed by a warm summer without extreme heat spikes; cooler temperatures at night allowed steady and extended ripening of the fruit, culminating in a somewhat late harvest time of early October. This long, slow maturation brought the grapes to full phenolic ripeness while preserving fresh acidity. The best wines combine enticing aromatics, deep and precisely delineated fruit flavors, and vivid acidity. Aging potential for the best 2016s is excellent.

is the Italian wine editor at Wine & Spirits magazine.

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