The vintage chart and harvest reports provided by the Wine Scholar Guild gives you the ranking for Italian wine regions and vintages from 2010 to today.
Italian wine expert Tom Hyland compiled the vintage assessments for 2010 through 2020. Paul Caputo, wine writer, judge, critic and creator of Vinorandum, has compiled this information and written the vintage charts for the 2021 vintage.
This vintage chart was last updated on September 5, 2023 in order to include the 2021 vintage. Enjoy!
Like most areas of Italy, 2021 proved to be a good vintage on Etna, but one characterised by worrying climatic events. Winter didn’t provide as much snow as previous vintages. Very dry growing season which delivered some water stress, especially on younger vines. Some producers carried out emergency irrigation. Even at higher altitudes the intense, prolonged heat has been felt and yields are down. Many estates reported picking earlier than they have ever done before, although the harvest continued as normal through to the end of October, with only a few still picking in the final days of November. Some rain in early October helped the vines rebalance in the final few weeks of ripening, allowing for good balance between sugars and acidity. Generalisations are difficult because of the diversity of terroir in the appellation, but pH numbers are higher than recent averages, and acidity lower. At the time of writing the most serious wines are still very young, but early tastings reveal them to still show the classic grip, texture and personality expected given Etna’s rapidly growing fine wine reputation.
While rainfall met average levels for the year, the dispersal was scattered, as winter was quite dry, while summer was quite rainy. There were temperature fluctuations in summer and fall, but thanks to the higher altitude plantings here, acidity levels were very good. The whites so far are bright, and elegantly styled, though not as rich as 2019; the reds are similar, so they are not powerful, but distinctly elegant.
Weather conditions were inconsistent throughout Etna in 2019. While there were five days of snow in February at higher elevations, the cold weather continued for two months, leading to frost in May, late flowering, and a loss in crop of about 20%-25%. While the heat returned in June, there was a spike in temperatures late in the month, with readings as high as 40°C (104°F). The hot weather continued until the end of September, which allowed the vines to make up for the cold temperatures during the spring; a cool October assured near-ideal conditions. The wines display good ripeness and freshness with proper acidity; many producers have stated that the 2019 reds from Etna combine the balance of the 2016s with the deep expression of the wines from 2017. Look for the 2019 Etna Rosso to drink well for at least another decade, with the best examples reaching peak in 12-15 years.
Excessive rain characterized Etna during 2018 throughout most of the growing season; this was especially true in late summer. This lead to a great deal of work for growers, who had to pass through vineyards often to remove leaves and mitigate conditions, which also included fog and high humidity. The additional work largely paid off as the wines offer lovely structure thanks to higher-than-normal levels of acidity; color of the grapes from younger vines, however, were low in anthocyanins. In general, the wines are linear and well-balanced, and if not the most powerful examples, they offer notable varietal purity as well as harmony (the whites from Etna in 2018 are particularly impressive). The top 2018 Etna Rosso will drink well for another 6-8 years.
As with most of the Italian mainland, 2017 was a hot growing season in Etna, while rainfall totals were far below normal. Temperatures did not drop during most nights during the summer, resulting in a harvest 7-8 days earlier than normal. Growers noted a significant reduction in yields from pre-phylloxera vines, while harvest on the eastern slopes was more typical as far as the size of the crop. The wines in general are ripe and forward, and due to lower-than-normal acidity, they do not have the structure for long aging; drink these over the next 5-7 years.
Weather conditions were quite beneficial throughout Etna in 2016, with no wild swings in temperature or precipitation; late summer was a bit more windy than normal. Most growers reported healthy grapes with almost textbook sugars and acidity, as well as excellent color; this was true for both the northern and eastern slopes. The resulting wines have exemplary typicity and offer excellent concentration and staying power, along with distinct minerality. If 2014 is the best vintage of the decade for Etna, 2016 is close. The wines are drinking well now, and the top examples should peak in 10-12 years.
A great deal of snow and rain characterized winter, which greatly helped water reserves for the vines. Conditions changed dramatically in the summer, with well above-average heat, which lasted into early October, and continued for more than a week. Harvest was early, from October 16 to the final few days of the month for most growers. Because of the rains, mold was a problem, so picking took longer than usual and was much more selective. The healthiest grapes have very good (even high) acidity with a rich tannin profile and deep color; overall, alcohol levels were lower than usual. The wines have pronounced minerality and offer impressive staying power; while not as glorious as those from 2014, the top wines from 2015 are excellent and will drink well for another 6-8 years.
2014 is unquestionably the finest vintage of the decade for Etna Rosso; this despite the relative lack of rainfall throughout the early part of the growing season. After several months of very warm, dry conditions, a heavy storm in late October ushered in colder weather; harvest started soon after lasting until the first week of November. The wines as a whole offer outstanding structure, as acidity levels are high and there is excellent richness on the palate. Yet these are not heavy wines, but rather offer ideal harmony of fruit, acidity and tannins, with excellent persistence. Another notable feature of the 2014s is the floral aromatic quality, combined with delicate red and brown spice notes. This vintage more than any other recent ones has brought about comparisons with wines from Burgundy, especially in their silky qualities and brisk acidity. The wines are just starting to offer secondary qualities and are drinking well now, with the most complex and best-balanced peaking in another 10-12 years.
Conditions were quite cold and rainy throughout much of the growing season, and it was not until the end of October was there a solid week of warm weather. Harvest started on October 25 and finished around the 10th off November for most growers. Vineyards on the northern slopes of Etna performed better than those from the east side, so quality is a bit inconsistent. While the yields were smaller than usual, acidity was pronounced, and while some of the reds are a bit austere, the wines do show good varietal character and are drinking beautifully now, while the most full-bodied examples will peak in another 4-5 years.
2012 was hot and dry, with no rain from May to October; temperatures were well above average during the summer, making it one of the warmest ever in Etna. Irrigation was necessary for most growers, as the plants were highly stressed. Many growers picked early, but those who waited for the rains in October were rewarded with grapes that offered better balance between sugar and acidity. The best examples of Etna Rosso are drinking well now, and have staying power for another 5-7 years, thanks to their robust tannins.
Above average winter snows and heavy rains resulted in excellent water reserves, while cooler than normal temperatures resulted in a later than usual harvest for Nerello Mascalese, which was picked between October 24 and November 5. The wines have very good acidity and structure, along with excellent varietal character and outstanding harmony. Most of the 2011 Etna Rosso are nearing peak and should drink well over the next 3-5 years.
Weather in 2010 at Etna was characterized by lower rainfall totals than normal in the spring and early summer, with things returning to normal in August. A layer of fog helped moderate excessive sunshine for the grapes in the summer; when that lifted, the bunches were able to ripen beautifully. Harvest was a bit later than usual, between the 18th and 27th of October. The wines are medium-full with good acidity and are mid-weight on the palate. Most of the Etna Rosso from this year are drinking well now, with a few peaking in another 2-4 years.
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These vintage notes have been prepared by Tom Hyland. Use this chart as a guide only; in every vintage there will be outperforming and underperforming wines.
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