Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hot from Pot

Charlotte Horton was born in Chelsea, London, in 1963. She took her degree in Literature and then worked for Vogue magazine, Secker and Warburg, the publishing house, and then as a free lance journalist. In 1988, she became active in Italy.

Her family has owned and restored property in the Province of Grosseto for over 40 years, including two of the area's most important architectural monuments, the Castello di Montepo and currently, the Castello di Potentino. Her activities have consisted of wine, food and olive oil production, restoration, event organizing, cultural promotion and such like. She has been making wine for 18 years.

The Castello di Potentino is situated in the Grosseto area, on the slopes of the Monte Amiata near Seggiano. The foundations of the Castle date from Etruscan times and the main structure is Renaissance. The estate is made up of 4 hectares of D.O.C Montecucco vineyards and about 500 ancient olive trees, the Olivastra Seggianese variety, indigenous to the area. The estate received five out of five stars in The Guida Espresso 2007, and our out of five in Decanter 2004. Last year Potentino was awarded a star for originality and continuity of quality from the Guida Espresso (along with estates such as Biondi Santi, Col D'Orcia, Querciabella) and five out of five stars again this year for the Sacromonte Sangiovese.

"Hot from Pot"

The Pinot Noir is happily bubbling in the vats. The bunches were splendid and firm. Sugar readings confirmed an alcohol content of about 13.5-14 so we picked. I had a heroic team, too many to mention, but you were all fantastic. Thanks.

I like to put proficient people in difficult corners. They usually perform better and so one may at least begin the arduous approach towards excellence as an escape. Obviously, this principle must apply to 'moi aussi' otherwise I would be a tyrannical hypocrite (silence at the back there, please). So, the great challenge for this year was to make a 'white' wine from the Pinot Noir (red grape.).

Quite honestly, I never really believed in the value of making a white in Tuscany because the environmental conditions are generally not right. However, here at the Castello di Potentino, we have a very particular micro- climate. Low - 380m, protected basin valley, right under the highest mountain in Tuscany, touch of sea air, ex volcano etc. etc .

After observation of the happiness of the Pinot Noir I planted here, I realised that the minerality of the soil (volcanic and therefore geologically new and bursting with energy) plus the nocturnal incursions of cold air at night, were influent enough to POSSIBLY... MAKE A GOOD WHITE WINE. So... we did.

Now, this involved a great deal of squishing and bucketing and finger crossing and new refrigeration plants with instruction manuals (which I have an inbuilt aversion to reading). You can see some of this going on in the photos so I am not giving away too many secrets about what we did because I can't really remember anymore anyway. However, I am sure it will be very good or not. What I can tell you is that we dumped all the grape skins (red) from the 'whitish' wine fermentation into the pinot noir 'Piropo' mix which is a super idea as it will make it even better. It might stain your clothes more if you slop it around too much before getting it into your mouth though, so make sure it gets in.

ps The moon was full so it should all be ok

Next episode soon. Taking the grapes skins out of the barrel from the Pinot Noir. Harvesting the Sangiovese and Alicante.

Thought for the day

'Without obsession, there is no excellence.'

Pu Song Ling, China

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