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."