Harvest 2020 has begun a week earlier than last harvest. On the 20th August we began with the first grape bunches for the pied de cuve, the natural starter of fermentation, while the last grape bunches arrived in the winery on the 14th October.
In this vintage in particular I noticed how our grape varieties Garganega and Durella, typical of our territory, are able to give great results if you have the patience to wait a bit more.
In the first days of September I was a little bit scared because ripening was slow, the rainy summer diluted the substances inside the grape and the vine wasn’t able to concentrate them. Then September hot days and cold nights have finally arrived and vines begun to work hard, the color of the grape bunches became golden, red, then orange, some of them turned kind of purple. The grape has been able to concentrate sugar, aromas, smells so the product in October was perfect to be harvested.
By now, since the wines are still fermenting, I can say it has been a good vintage, exciting as usual, chaotic and demanding, but I’m sure that in November I’ll receive great satisfactions from the smells of the wines during cold autumn days.
I feel the summer in the vineyard like a “long” period of the year, sometimes because days are truly longer, sometimes because you try to use the whole day to work and you come back in the winery when it’s almost evening and it’s tiring.
Vines also work a lot during this period: shoots are extending very fast, the bunches are swollen and day by day more ripen. The vine has to be perfect in this period, in order to have the strength to produce high quality ripen bunches.
That’s why leaves have to be healthy enough, I spray them with copper and sulfur against the two main diseases: downy mildew and powdery mildew. Healthy leaves convert at their best light energy into strength for the grape bunches.
Another delicate aspect during these hot days is soil irradiation. Sun radiation on bare soil warms it up and causes vine roots suffering. That’s why I prefer to let the grass along the row a bit higher, so it protects soil from direct sun rays, it maintains the humidity on the soil and there is also a better microclimate for the life of small animals.
After flowering period, some weeks ago, we began green pruning and cutting leaves around the bunches for a better air and sun passage. Now sun rays are stronger, I let vine shoots grow so they can cover and protect grape bunches from direct sun radiation. August is almost here, we only have to wait for nature to take its course: grape bunches have to ripen at their best, only then we can proceed with harvesting.
Meanwhile, in the fresh air of the winery, it’s time to do some works before the bottling. Every year our wines are bottled in July, we have waited almost one year to let them mature and stabilize in the tanks. Twenty days before the bottling we taste all the tanks and prepare the blends, thinking about the quantities we need and on the different possibilities, in order to find the perfect match. It’s a very important moment for us because in few hours of tastings and trials you try to imagine the future of each wine. With the bottling the work in the winery, that lasted almost one year, is officially over and we can focus on the new harvest with great strength and enthusiasm.
As you have read above this year we have decided to plant a new Durella vineyard. I have been thinking about it for a long time and I was looking for the perfect soil, volcanic, 450 m.a.s.l., in the heart of the Doc area Lessini Durello.
I remember my grandfather, in a place called Brovia, had 3-4000 Durella vines and my father always told me it was a precious grape variety.
Very scented, generous and with strong acidity. My father used to use it together with Garganega grape variety in order to give a bit more freshness to the wine, that in the past he used to sell as cask wine. I also remember my other grandfather, who lived in San Pietro Mussolino, in the Northern part of the province of Vicenza, had some Durella vines and used to produce wine. It was very intense in colour, it looked like tea, and you had to grab yourself on the table in order to drink it because it was so acid and strong!
40 years ago some producers of the Durello area decided to produce sparkling wine so today the majority of the production is for sparkling wine. In my opinion champenoise method is the one that better expresses the typical characteristics of this grape variety.
In 2007 I began to produce sparkling wine with this wonderful grape and every single year I tried to improve some aspects. There are many steps in producing sparkling wines with champenoise method, and, little by little, I’m trying to always improve them in order to produce a wine with strong personality. For example, hear more than what happens with other grape varieties, the harvesting period is very important to start off on the right foot.
People always think that for a good champenoise method you need to harvest before the perfect maturation in order to maintain higher acidity and freshness level: not for Durella!
Durella hides its beauty in acidity, so I prefer to harvest it when it’s almost at right maturation, so I can give more aromas and balance to the wine, maintaining however a good acidity.
The wine will be less sharp, more round and complex and with great freshness. The process in winemaking is the same as for other wines, and lies in stainless steel tanks on its own fine lees until the end of February. Then I proceed with the tirage. After having bottled the wine, I position the bottles horizontally in a place a temperature of 9-10° C, so the fermentation starts slowly, the yeasts get used to the new temperature and, working a bit slower, the perlage will be fine and the aromas more intense.
In 20 days the temperature will rise up to 16/17°C in order to gradually finish the fermentation. The aging in the bottle on the yeasts at a temperature of 15°C lasts 4 years; in this long and slow period it’s better not to have any temperature jumps. The degourgement takes place in the coolest period of the year, in order to reduce the stress of this operation. By choice I decided not to add any other wines or spirits during the degourgement, so the wine remains the same after having lied on the yeasts.
I rediscovered this grape variety thanks to the love of my father for it, now I want to work with it with always greater attention so I can produce a wine that can be a perfect mirror of its soul.
How much is time worth? Which value can I give to time?
I often ask myself this question and I always find different answers. Nature for sure teaches me that time has to be respected, passed, awaited, and lived fully in every single moment.
Just think about how much time I have to wait for the fruits after having planted a young vine: 3 years they say, but what if I want to have good quality grape? Maybe 5 or 10?
Many times I think about it and the only thing I’m sure is that time is absolutely precious and doesn’t have to be wasted.
Today I’m planting a vine and the vine immediately starts working, it doesn’t wait a second to become bigger and produce grape, but it starts immediately and works hard every day. My task is just helping it, day by day, to become bigger, just as you do with newborns: it’s exactly the same!
In each moment of the year, vines have their perfect time, unique and irreplaceable: time for pruning, time for sprayings… then it’s time for the harvest; each moment has its maximum importance. Some times are slower, other are quicker, it looks like a melody to be followed, a magical rhythm that creates its own music.
And what about the winery? Does it change somehow? No, I have to say.
It’s a slow and sweet composition. Pressing time is chaotic and everything goes quickly. Then, as if by magic, when the weather starts to be cooler, everything becomes more relaxed, calm and patient. The weekly battonage, the tastings of the wines in the tanks, “picai” that are slowly drying and the wait for them to be pressed. And after that the wait for wine maturation, their bottling in July… and everything starts again.
Here in the winery as well time has a precise value, and it’s about maturation and growth.
Yes, I’m sure: in the vineyards and in the winery, such as in life, time has an immense value, the value of growth, maturation and evolution.
The young vine that has just been planted, the wine that has just been pressed, me today: we are all more advanced and mature than yesterday and less then tomorrow. This is the value of time the nature passed me down and that I try to respect day by day.
The work in the winery in the last months has been chaotic, hard, laborious and tough: neverending days. Every year the harvest period is the same, you wait for it with great anxiety, you fall inside its vortex and, at the end, everything becomes again calm, peaceful and quiet.
Now I’m here in the winery, where the wines lie as nature wants during the cold winter months. During winter period, the winery instills peace and patience; you only have to wait for the the wines to mature, I help them with weekly battonage, the grape bunches hung up on the “picai” are slowly drying waiting for the right moment to be pressed, which is when the berries have a particular sugar concentration that is no more fermentable.
In this period we clean all the different part of the winery, from the pressing area to the tanks that during the harvest period we have forgotten because of the hard work we had to do. I really like working in the winery in this special period, I love tasting the wines from the different tanks and barriques. I immediately think about the taste of the grapes, he very early rising in the mornings, the few hours slept during the nights in the most tough period of the year: the harvesting period.
This is a question people ask me a lot and I think about it often, in different period of my life…
My inclination has always been for steel, because it’s a clean material, easy to disinfect, inert, which doesn’t transfer any aromas to the wines and maintains freshness and minerality unchanged. This material helped me following my idea of producing wines from the territory, that’s why I chose it, a neutral tank that exalts the grape variety.
Anyway, lately I have been tempted by the idea of trying a wood fermentation, in order to smooth the saltiness and the freshness of my wines. I think that, if you’re able to use it correctly, even wood used with complex but fresh and acid wines can give great satisfactions.
So here I am, with a brand new 10 hl French oak, just in time for this harvest; my goal is to ferment very ripen grapes, the last harvested. Only in few months we’ll see if I had the right intuition. I’ll keep you updated!
The work in the winery needs a lot of attention and it’s made of many small steps that, at the end, can bring great results.
For example, the maturation on fine lees and the battonage are important practices for the production of elegant, round and not oxidized wines.
This technique begins at the end of the alcoholic fermentation, I normally pour the wine in order to eliminate the gross and dark less, but I pay attention not to eliminate fine lees, which are lighter brown in colour, and are important for the rest of the year until the bottling.
These fine lees are overgrown yeasts that release mannoproteins. Lees, even if very fine, lay down on the bottom of the tanks.
Battonage means means stirring stirring settled lees back into wineusing a long baton that will fit in the hole of a barrel or special machine that rotate to upend settled lees.
I do it once a week, from the first pouring until March, then every 15 days. What do mannoproteins bring to the wine?
Firstly, they are strong antioxidants, while lees fall down on the bottom, they grab the oxidable parts and bring them down (then the oxidable parts will be eliminated with a pouring). Mannoproteins help me a lot with the protein and tartaric stability.
Battonage, at the end, gives a round sensation to the wines which is perfect for my wines because they’re very sapid. This technique is stopped one month before the bottling, then the lees lay down on the botton and are eliminated with a pouring.
As I like to say small steps make the difference in order to have a clean and elegant wine, my goal is to bring my territory in the bottle and I always try to work hard for that.
Last weekend I participated for the first time to RAW WINE, a two-days wine fair which is a real community of organic and biodynamic wines. This one in London is just one of the events that are organized during the year in different parts of the world such as Berlin, New York, Los Angeles or Montreal.
What have I learnt from this experience? Which impressions to share with you? A lot of curiosity for organic wines, a lot of young people that want to change their approach towards wine culture and curious to discover new little denominations, such as mine. This is for sure the perfect moment for particular wines, that have their own identity and that aren’t very famous among the wine market, such as the one I produce: the organic Gambellara DOC. The fair has been organized to the last detail, I will for sure participate to other events of Raw Wine in the future.
A few days in the vineyard and then we’ll move to Verona for my 6th time at VinitalyBio, the event dedicated to certified organic wine inside Vinitaly, the international wine & spirits exhibition of Verona. I will be in pavilion F hall 18 of VinitalyBio. I will wait for you there to taste together Primo Incontro 2017 and my Gambellara Classico Col Moenia 2017.
After the great stress during the summer, ended in October with the maturation of the grapes, vines need a rest period in order to regenerate and recover energies, this period is winter. During the so-called winter rest, we don’t just wait for the vines to germinate in Spring, but we help the vines to recover their energies and the soil to regenerate through specific works.
The first work, once the harvest is over, is to remove the dead or sick vinesor the ones that, by mistake, we uproot: these vines are changed with new ones. During the summer, walking up and down the vineyards we already see and mark the vines that need to be removed so, once the harvest is over, we remove them and create a hole in the soil for the new vine. During the winter, thanks to cold temperatures, the soil receives more oxygen and crumbles, becoming more friable in spring when we’ll plant the new vines.
Spring operations are carried out using a tractor that, depending on its weight and tires dimensions, makes the soil more compact. My philosophy is trying to compact the soil as less as possible, using light tractors with wide tires in order to let the soil breathe “better”.
After having removed the vines we use a subsoiler in order to cut, lift and aerate the soil. This operation is extremely important because cutting the soil 40 cm deep we let air and water enter the soil for all the winter, which is fundamental for the microorganisms.
The next step is green manure crop seeding, a mix of grass (Gramineae) and Leguminosaethat, using their roots, renovate the soil and give carbon and nitrogen in order to increase the humus in the soil. Once these operations are finished, the soil rests until next Spring.
We are not finished yet in the vineyards, we still have to prune, clean the banks of the ditches from trees and prepare the vineyard for its germination in Spring.
Pruning begins with cold temperatures, when all the leaves have already fallen. We wait for this precise moment because trees, once the fruit is removed, are still working in order to increase inside the trunk a vital substance to survive during Winter a start once again in Spring. If we prune them in the wrong moment, we will stop this important process. Pruning is a very delicate process where you remove the old part of the vine and decide how it will be in the next years, its shape and the amount of grape bunches it will produce. In the same period we also prune the olive trees in order to maintain unvaried their production and quality.
Another important winter operation is cleaning banks and ditches. We remove those trees that in Summer could perhaps shade the vineyards or block water in the ditches. We have to safeguard the environment and the place where we live so that the future generations will enjoy a better environment than the one we found.
It seems winter is not a time for rest, or better only trees can rest, we have to get organized and work hard in order to prepare the vineyard to be ready and strong when Spring comes.
This month I’d like to speak about my Cuvee dei Vignato - V.S.Q. Durella-Chardonnay, vintage 2013.
This wine comes from the volcanic hills of Gambellara and it’s a blend of 90% Durella and 10% Chardonnay. It is a champenoise method sparkling wine and it’s the result of the two souls of the winery: my father Gian Domenico by one side, who has always cultivated Durella grape variety, and me by the other side, I decided to introduce Chardonnay.
The harvest is manual, the wine matures in stainless steel tanks and by the end we go on with the sparkling process of the best Cuvee.
The wine smells of ripen fruit, yeasts and bread crust; in the mouth it is round, enchanting and floral with a final hint of exotic fruit.
This vintage in particular, 2013, didn’t have any dry peaks during the summer; spring was rainy and a not so hot summer helped the grape bunches in a slow maturation, carried out in the best way possible.
A great vintage for sparkling wines because the grape bunches with their slow ripening, were able to maintain acidity and freshness, which are very important for a sparkling wine. Cuvee 2013 smells like citrus and in the mouth you can perceive a strong minerality.