Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The wine is in the vats...

And has now been bubbling away for while so while the olive nets are being repaired and things calm down, I thought I would say a few things about harvesting grapes.

As an annoying younger brother, I tend to ask questions of my sister about the whole winemaking process- this is my first full year of production so I have a lot of questions and one of them was why we do so much by hand...

So this is what Charlotte adds:
Many estates use machines to remove leaves.  This is often done without observation of the particular conditions of individual plants or consideration of the weather. Forecasting what the seasons will bring is a core part of winemaking and fine-tuning in the vineyard can improve or save a harvest. Working robot-like to a standardised calendar has created many problems including the spread of fungal infections of the vines and is not kind to the vines.

This year has been a very difficult year for most of the vineyards in Italy- a cold, wet July followed by a very hot and dry August lead to grapes that in some vineyards resembled raisins rather than fresh grapes as the vines were sucking back all the water back into the plant to save themselves. Not ideal- we widely hear reports that quantities are down by more than 30%- the vine equivalent of the Great Depression...

But we have managed to avoid the raisin issue completely by leaving a lot of leaves on the vines this year providing extra cover. This wouldn't be possible if we didn't work by hand. The result is that we have actually produced the same amount as last year and we are very happy with the quality as well.

Look at these

When it comes to picking the grapes, the mechanical harvester is incredibly violent, potentially damaging to the vines and to the grapes both, which leads to wounded vines and fermentation before the grapes reach the cantina. But perhaps more important, it takes out that human element of selection- particularly important for the pinot noir where there are a lot of  small secondary bunches of grapes that aren't as sweet or as ripe at harvest time- that leaves out all but the healthiest grapes.

I leave you with a clip of video of a mechanical harvest- I certainly wouldn't want to be a vine in their vineyard...

And one at Chandon in France- done alarmingly fast by hand!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Bread and Games Review of the Pop-up at Black's

A wonderful review of our recent pop-up at Black's- it has me blushing....

Monday, 19 September 2011

Full Moon Pop-up at Potentino 11th-13th November

Full Moon Pop-up at Potentino 11th-13th November

Come to the source. Meet Coco, Minerva, the vines and the olive trees. We have been going on about reproducing the Potentino atmosphere in London so come and experience it in situ.

Autum at the castle - there will be chestnuts, fantastic seasonal food, music, new oil and bruschetta by the fire. Plus olive picking and picnics in the groves. In other words, Potentino Life.

The weekend will include a tour of the estate, cantina and castle - a visit to the etruscan wine making stones. How do we do it all? See the land where the wine and oil actually comes from.

Special gala show case - Davy Lyons from Wexford, Ireland has been coming as a volunteer for a few years now and is the most talented and extraordinary singer and will be playing during the weekend.  His singing is so sweet it makes people cry every time.  He is a star.

There will be special culinary surprises and maybe a kitchen disco.

Come for the weekend or stay longer...

Please book by sending me an e-mail at
€120 per day for a shared room.  €150 per day single occupancy.  Meals and wine included within reason.

Full Moon gratis.

Getting to Potentino
Flights to Pisa Airport are easiest, although one can fly to Rome or Florence and hire a car. We will be collecting people from Pisa at 16:00 on the Friday- prices to be confirmed depending on numbers. We will co-ordinate with anyone who is interested- once we know more about how long people want to stay (Sunday or Monday or longer), we will try to coordinate transport to Pisa.

We have written directions for those who wish to hire a car.

If you can't make it... but would like to buy some wine...
Charlotte's wines can be ordered from From Vineyards Direct. Please click here for the Piropo and here for the Sacromonte. Delivery is free. The Lyncurio is also now available too.

Future Dates and Other Events
To be confirmed!

Photo of Coco and Minerva by Malachi Rempen
Photo of Davy and sunset by Alexander Atwater

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The double-edged rain

It has been raining here for much of the week- a nice break from the sun and needed to help the vines grow, but in Italy it doesn't rain lightly and every rain storm brings with it the risk of hail... each sudden downpour has me fingers-crossed hoping that it isn't going to hail. The hail would rip through the vine leaves destroying everything. A few years ago the hail stones were so big that the local FIAT garage had to sell off its entire stock at a discount because the car bonnets were peppered with dents- apparently the hailstones were the size of lemons. A local bar has one in its freezer still to show the unbelieving.
E' cosi la vita Italiana...