What’s the verdict on Italy’s 2017 vintage?

cartoon image of Italy

Flashback to the 2017 vintage on the international wine scene. This year was one synonymous with historically low production. Italy was no exception, with a sharp 17% drop in production. The culprits? Freezing temperatures and drought conditions, which severely limited yields. So what quality can we expect from this 2017 vintage now that some time has passed?

Record low production and a rare vintage

‘You’d have to go back before the 2000s to see such low levels of production,’ commented Jean-Marie Aurand, the General Director of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), in 2018. Sadly, the 2023 vintage has since replaced 2017 as the lowest production year since 1961.

Spring and winter brought plenty of sunshine to Italy in 2017. Consequently, spring frosts had an even greater impact in the vineyards (mainly in the north). This was followed by a dry summer, marked by drought, which left the vines parched and prevented the grapes from swelling sufficiently, drastically limiting yields (down 17% on 2016). In Valpolicella, for instance, average temperatures from May to July were higher than the average recorded during the last thirty seasons. Rainfall in June and July, however, limited the water stress on the vines.

It is worth pointing out that most of the winegrowers we spoke with cited 2017 as a starting point for a new era in winegrowing, one profoundly affected by climatic change. In the past, frost and drought only affected one in three or four vintages, but now they affect almost every vintage, and more severely one in two.

So what’s the verdict on Italy’s 2017 vintage?

Just like the 2017 Bordeaux, an excellent vintage that was produced between several outstanding ones, Italy’s 2017 vintage suffered from negative press when it was first released. Having said that, this vintage is proving extremely successful today, as evidenced by Francesco Cosci’s – Italy’s best sommelier – verdict on Roagna’s 2017 Langhe Rosso. ’[…] produced by a craftsman, practically an artist, based in Barbaresco in Piedmont. This winemaker creates monsters of subtlety,’ commented Francesco in Le Figaro last February. Whatever happens, when a winemaker works their magic, the wines are great!

As far as Brunello di Montalcino is concerned, the vintage displays ‘greater freshness than expected’ reveals Michaela Morris (Decanter) in 2022 after tasting 80 samples. She recommends that the wines be enjoyed over the next five to eight years. As for Barolo, Aldo Fiordelli (Decanter) describes the wines as ‘well balanced, with bright levels of acidity and ripe tannins’.

Incidentally, 2017 brought a handful of small events for our partner estates in Italy. Indeed, this is the year Federico Radi took over as technical director at the Biondi-Santi estate. This was also the year that Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia launched Massetino, the ‘little brother’ of Masseto.

 Our collection of Italian wines endorsed by the press

Today, some 2017 vintage wines are entering their drinking window. After all, seven years have elapsed since the grapes from this vintage were harvested!

Here is our selection of wines to enjoy now:

  • Chianti Classico Riserva Querciabella: a certified organic, affordable Chianti (€28.80 for two bottles) which received rave reviews (17/20 Jancis Robinson, 94/100 Falstaff, 92/100 Decanter…).
  • Brunello di Montalcino 2017 Il Poggione: a traditionally crafted Brunello and a benchmark in its appellation, awarded 95/100 by Wine Enthusiast, 94+/100 by Wine Advocate and 17.5 by Vinum!

Plus, our favourites for cellaring for a few more years:

  • Brunello di Montalcino 2017 Biondi Santi: already delicious today – (we tasted it during our e-tasting masterclass arranged with the estate) – this wine will gain further complexity over the next twenty years. Jancis Robinson (17/20) and Wine Advocate (96/100) actually recommend opening this bottle from 2026.
  • Barolo Pira 2017 Roagna is, quite simply, an iconic Barolo of its estate (95/100 from Wine Spectator)!
  • Barolo La Serra 2017 Roberto Voerzio  James Suckling awarded this wine 98/100 and Vinum gave it a near-perfect score with 19/20. This Barolo is one of the region’s most iconic wines, combining modernity and tradition.

Shop all Italian wines from 2017