Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hot From Pot- The Svinatura

We have done the 'svinatura' (taking the grape skins off) for the Sangiovese and all the wine is safe in the barrels maturing. During this process we empty the barrels of the skins and give them a light pressing with a hand worked press. This is very old fashioned and time consuming but is very gentle so we only get the best juice from 'vinaccia' after racking the wine off. The skins go to the Nannoni distillery to make our grappa Riserva (aged in wood and very similar to a cognac) and a Pinot Noir grappa which is rare. Both are very smooth unlike most grappas because we hardly press the skins and they are full of wine. Some of my little helpers were very merry during this operation as you can see from the t-shirt and its occupant. Needless to say there are many fumes in the barrels that may effect their judgement and discretion if they had them to begin with.

The olive harvest continues in beautiful Autumnal beauty. Idyllic picnics on the nets under the trees. We have moved on to the olive tree indigenous to SEGGIANO called the 'olivastra seggianese'. Some of our trees are over a thousand years old. The oil is particularly delicious and has a very low acidity which is a prestige. Now, it is important to add that SEGGIANO is our local village, where many people live and work and struggle in a reality which is not a brand name. Some of these people do not know how much the olive oil from SEGGIANO is sold for in certain retail venues in London as they certain do not manage to get paid that sort of price. But this is the nature of marketing and consumerism concerning our little village SEGGIANO.

Since Messalina and Coco seem to be very popular, I have decided to include a section here called
"Doggies" for their fans. When we are harvesting they love to completely ruin all the staking and netting arrangements. Coco adores to wander around under the nets like a strange underwater phantasm while Messy tries unsuccessfully to hurdle the staked edges. You can see some of their antics.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Olive Harvest

Hot from Pot

We had the first snow on the Amiata mountain this afternoon which is exceptionally early.  A light flaking.  Fires and chesnuts.  Strange to think that only a week ago we were hot and flustered picking grapes for our neighbour down the valley.  Lots of singing and hilarity at the meal afterwards.  Rather ziggy zaggy returns to the castle over the river and I think someone fell in but no one can ascertain the facts.

The olive harvest has started and Lyncurio (the alchemical magical potion) and the new Piropo were decanted.

The greenest dream deep liquid has emerged from the first olive pressing like something from the Wizard of Oz's set for the Emerald City.  Hard work but pleasurable rewards.  Well done everyone... 29 crates maximum!!!   Sooper troopers.   So far 1,800 kilos of olives.  Phew.

We had some tastings and lunches with charming Norwegians and Australians who are very appreciative of all.  It is wonderful to see the joy that Potentino gives to people especially after a few glasses of wine. 

Exciting Extra Glamourous activities - a team from the Italian La Republica magazine, "Io, Donna"  (I, Woman), came to take photos of my very beautiful and graceful mother,  Sally,  as a tribute to her loveliness and achievement.  Clothes racks and make up artists and flashing cameras all day. "Blow Up" at Potentino.  Costantino Ruspoli was the David Bailey of the situation.

Tomorrow we start taking grapes off the vats and continue picking olives.


food tantalisers from Potentino

oyster picnic under the olive trees and wild cyclamen as decoration
cavolo nero and chesnut sauce with short pasta, garlic and chilli
guinea fowl with white wine, black olives and juniper berries
served with a dish of polenta and porcini,  and beans cooked in tomato and  rosemary
farro (spelt) cooked as a risotto (farrotto) with zucchini and wild mint

Friday, 9 October 2009

Guida Espresso 2010

Cesare Calvani - our administrator/cook - and I rushed up to Florence in our filthy car to the presentation of Vini d"Italia Guida dell'Espresso.  I was wearing my Yves Saint Laurent wine gangster pin striped suit and my Nosferatu wine vampire t-shirt.  It was packed.  There was a lot of talking and then everyone scrummed for the food and wine.  I got our bit of paper for the award.  Here are some photos.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Vino d'Eccelenza Award Ceremony Today

Charlotte and Cesare are on their way to the award ceremony as I type...

The 2010 Guida Espresso reviews are finally in for the 2006 wines- We were in the top twelve wines in Tuscany.

Sacromonte 2006- 5/5 bottles 18.5

austero ed elegante nello sviluppo dei profumi, di humus e sottobosco, macchia mediterranea, ha grande carattere gustativo, centro bocca ritmato, armoniso, finale di grande energia e profondita'

An austere nose: an elegant evolution of humus and undergrowth, Mediterranean macchia. With great flavour, rhythmic central mouth, a harmonious finale of great energy and depth.

Piropo 2006 - 4/5 bottles 16.5

profumi da pinot nero maturo (viola, lampone, cuoio) buona dolcezza e sapidita' al palato, bel carattere, finale lungo con leggero esubero alcolico.

A bouquet of ripe pinot noir (violet, raspberries, leather); a fine sweetness and flavour on the palate, a beautiful personality; a lingering finish with a slight alcoholic exuberance.

They weren't easy to translate! But my mouth is watering now...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

How the Guida Espresso chooses its wines.

Today, Charlotte found this wonderful insight into how the Guida Espresso chooses its wines, how the scores work and how many wines actually get tasted- I was astonished!

I was particularly fascinated by the fact that they leave the wines open overnight to see if a wine has been "made up".

I am sure Charlotte will write about the nafarious practices in wine-making once the harvest has been done and things have calmed down, but it is good to see that the critics try to spot it!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sunday, 4th October, 2009

"Hot from Pot"

This week we finished the Alicante harvest.  Then we bottled 2007 Sacromonte, about 14,000 bottles.  Then there was the cleaning up the Castle project - weeding clipping and strimming of the terraces.  Olive tree work - pruning unwanted growth as we are getting ready for the harvest which starts after the grapes are all in.  Then we had a lunch and wine tasting with Boris Fantechi's biking gang who were absolutely delightful and very cool in their hard core leathers which belied their sweet natures. Vroom, vroom.  The red Ducati really big one was prime.

Now, after we put the grapes into the fermenting vats, it is not all over... a lot more goes on:  we have to do "pump overs" and 'delestage' work.  Basically, during the fermentation (yeast naturally present on the grape skins turning the natural sugars present in the grapes into alcohol - when that has happened the wine is 'dry' with no residual sugars) the bubbling pushes all the skins to the top of the barrel and you need to 'bathe' them, circulating the liquid wine over the thick, hard cap of skins.  This extracts colour, flavour and tannins.  The cap of skins wil also stay alive and not turn to vinegar.  In my funny little vision of wine-making, I think wine is 'alive' and must be allowed to exchange and transform.  This is one of the reasons why we ferment in a natural material - WOOD - oak from Allier in Provence, France.  Most producers ferment these days in stainless steel, which is inert and does not breathe.  In WOOD, there is an exchange between the oak, the wine and oxygen.  I hasten to add we use large vats not barriques.  5,000 litres instead of 250.  The 5,000 vat size allows for a slow exchange which has a thorough effect on the structure of the wine instead of a quick superficial spread of flavouring which the barrique can afford if so used.

The "delestage" technique involves racking all the fermenting liquid off the barrel until the hard cap of grapeskins falls to the bottom of the conical vat.  It breaks up and we then pump all the wine back over it.

Next post I will describe the 'svinatura'  when we take the skins off the wine, which go off to make A QUITE  DRINKABLE grappa.

Tomorrow, we start the main Sangiovese harvest.  Two days left.  It is a great joy for me to be able harvest at the beginning of October again.  When I started making wine nearly 20 years ago in the Morellino area (closer to the coast near Scansano), we always picked about the 10th of October.   The weather conditions have altered so considerably that the norm is often the second or third week of September.   Being under the Amiata mountain makes a great difference as we have an influx of cold air all summer and I think this suits the Sangiovese grape better.  Later, in the winter, I will be polemical about forced viticulture but am too busy making wine at the moment to rant.  So don't hold your breath. 


Potentino recipes of the Week

Roast Mountain Pears (a bit like green potatoes) with Lots of Garlic, Roast Pumpkin, Roast Yams and served with a young Pecorino (local sheep's cheese) and Potentino Chutney (made from the green leftovers of the vegetable garden three years ago)

Broccoli Rab (Cime di Rape) and Anchovy sautee'd with garlic and Pepperoncino (red chili peppers)
with a short pasta.

Pesto with raw zucchini (courgettes) blanched almonds, wild penny mint, fresh marojoram,  fresh parsley, garlic and extra virgin olive oil and spaghetti.

Pumpkin, chesnut and wild fennel risotto - made specially for Ashley's 24th birthday.

Thought for the Day

"Man's greatness comes from knowing he is wretched: a tree does not know it is wretched.

Thus it is wretched to know one is wretched but there is a greatness in knowing one is wretched."