2021 draws to its conclusion, a year jam-packed with incredible events on the worldwide stage that has spared no excitement on our hillside in Ruffoli.
Amongst the highs and lows of 2021, we saw the easing of the heavy restrictions and lockdowns which massively conditioned our lives during most of 2020. With the easing came an outpouring of desire for a return to normality made of socialising, human contact and above all, conviviality (a hallmark of us all but particularly felt here in Italy).
This long-awaited sense of newfound freedom coupled with marvellous scores and exciting reviews received over the last year led our wines, the Super Tuscans above all, to be taken by storm. The latest releases of Camartina, Batàr, Palafreno, Riserva and Turpino sold out in record time, and the sales of Chianti Classico and Mongrana were also the highest we have ever had. Although there is no doubt about our wines’ exquisite quality and popularity, we can honestly say that we were truly excited by these astonishing results!
2021 Vintage Report
2021 was an eventful vintage in the vineyards, which taught us patience and the benefits of waiting. In February and March, the abundance of rainfall in winter was followed by an abnormal front of warm weather, waking the vines prematurely. The sudden frost that brought temperatures below zero for a few days at the beginning of April was harsh to the earlier ripening varieties. Coupled with an irregular bud break, this led to a lesser crop down the road — especially when it comes to the Sangiovese in our vineyards in Maremma.
After a roller-coaster start of the growing season, Summer was unapologetically warm and dry, with only a few sporadic rain showers bringing relief to our vines. Our vineyards in Maremma saw the least rainfall in 20 years but coped well thanks to our diligent canopy and vineyard management that helped ensure a sufficient water supply. Significant day-to-night fluctuations in temperature helped tannins soften and enhance the wines’ aromatic profile.
In Chianti Classico, our vineyards benefit from high altitude and great exposure, encouraging balance despite the hot summer. The dry conditions have slowed down the vines’ development and translated into low disease pressure. So we were in no rush to harvest and waited out the long summer till the rains fell in the last week of September and the first in October. At this point, many of our peers in the valley had hurried already to bring grapes to their cellars.
The harvest of Batàr’s Chardonnay was the latest on record. And the picking of the reds only started on the 20th of October, more in the last century’s fashion.
Picking did not follow the usual order of Greve, Radda, Lamole, Gaiole that we do in a regular vintage. In 2021, we partially picked in one village one day, then moved to another site the next day, and back again the day after. Such long and logistically demanding work for our team leads to superb results when done with absolute patience and precision. The slow and gradual ripening of the grapes has rewarded our cool-headed thoroughness with a perky level of acidity that remains well balanced by the sugar content, yielding wines with natural vibrancy.
It’s all very promising. I am pretty excited about the fruit concentrations and the striking vibrant colours. Quality is exceptional right across the board.
—Manfred Ing, Winemaker.
Batàr than the rest
This year we have celebrated the release of the 30th vintage of Batàr, our iconic white that is just as prized as the top red wines from Tuscany. Its legendary ability to defy age never fails to make an impression even on the most famous palates. We had the honour of a truly spectacular vertical tasting with none other than Jancis Robinson. Along with a string of iconic back vintages, Batàr 2018 won the favour of wine critic Susan Hulme MW with its full flavours of salty juiciness and wowed David Kermode with its freshness and intricate complexity.
The Power of Many
At Querciabella, we create wines in pursuit of quality and authenticity, without compromise. We are honoured that the press and wine lovers recognise our unique winemaking style, tremendous precision, and unfaltering commitment to preserving the natural environment. But as we look at the future of our winery with confidence, we also recognise the value and importance of collective action. In September 2021, we cheered to the newly-founded Association of the Wine Growers of Greve in Chianti, created to promote sustainability as a crucial tool for protecting the territory and leveraging its further enhancement.
On the 02nd of December, sixteen of Chianti Classico’s best and most prestigious wineries officially launched the new Historical Super Tuscans wine committee in Florence. These pioneering producers all boast at least one critically acclaimed Super Tuscans made in the Chianti Classico area before 1994. Querciabella is one of the proud founding members, having released Camartina in 1981.
Sharing awareness of the dangers that threaten our planet
Against the backdrop of intensifying Global Warming, the world leaders met in Glasgow on World’s Vegan Day this year. A coincidence we couldn’t overlook. As concerns over the huge impact of animal agriculture on the environment, human health, and animal welfare grow, we fiercely advocate for a sustainable way of feeding the world. By simply eliminating animal‑based foods and products from our lives, we have a major opportunity to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Welcome to the new norm
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the way wine is communicated and sold for good and has pushed producers like ourselves to rethink how we engage with our customers. In a time of great uncertainties, we can be sure of one thing: the future of wine can no longer ignore the digital experience, be it social media, e-commerce, Wine Club or online masterclasses. Whatever the case, the digital will increasingly be a fundamental feature in our lives.
While we are still cautious for the immediate future, in 2021, we have also had the chance to take a peek at the future of in-presence events. The Chianti Classico Consorzio reacted promptly to the new challenges by bringing this year’s edition of the Chianti Classico Collection global. Italy’s main wine events like Vinitaly and Merano Wine Festival have also transformed to allow a reduced but very keen crowd to taste wines in the safest environment possible.
Never stop innovating
Vine age and two decades of biodynamic and organic practices mean our wines now really are better than ever. However, as a fine producer with a penchant for experimentation, we could not be resting long on our laurels. So, enamoured with the intensity of flavours and that subtle hint of saline minerality that characterise the wines of Maremma, we decided to create a new white wine that perfectly illustrates the qualities we seek from this region. Mongrana Bianco, our new Vermentino-based wine, is a taste of things to come.
And, as we are nearly ready for a final toast, we’d like to thank you, our friends and fellow wine lovers, for everything that we have accomplished in 2021. Your continued support inspires us to push boundaries and never stop innovating. We look forward to 2022, confident that the best is yet to come.