Together with Consorzio Tutela Vini Gambellara in 2004 we started a vine zonation project in collaboration with the University of Padua.
Thanks to this study today we can recognize six Crus inside the Gambellara DOC area: Faldeo, Taibane, Monti di Mezzo, San Marco, Creari and Selva.
But what is a zonation project?
The concept is that there are evidences that, even if the distance is very small, soil and climate can be very different even inside the same denomination area and these specific conditions can influence the wine.
The zonation project tries to identify these homogeneous areas considering climate, soil and productivity, these are all elements that we’ll find later in the wines.
So the wine itself comes from a very specific place that is well recognized and identified.
In this specific news I want to tell you about the subarea Monti di Mezzo, where there are half of my Garganega vineyards.
Monti di Mezzo are located inside the amphitheater of Gambellara, in between the subareas Faldeo and San Marco. The maximum height is 270 mamsl and the sun exposure is south-east. The soil is volcanic and of medium depth. It’s the area where night temperatures from July to September are cooler and with good temperature range that help a perfect aromatic maturation of the grapes. In the hottest vintages, such as 2003, 2015 and 2017, this subarea, despite high temperatures and drought, maintained good levels of aromas.
Wines from Monti di Mezzo are very elegant and delicate, rich in aromas. That’s why here I harvest the 100% of the grape bunches for Primo Incontro and part for El Gian.
In Monti di Mezzo subarea I look for elegance and drinkability that characterize my wines.
I have been studying and trying the maceration of Garganega grape variety for several years, since 2015 to be precise. For those who don’t know it yet, maceration is a special technique, commonly used on red grape varieties, to give color and aromas to the wine. Practically the wine must ferments for 5, 10 or more days together with the seeds, the flesh and the skin of the grape berry. For white wines normally skins, part of the flesh and the seeds are immediately separated from the juice, otherwise the wine becomes too tannic and difficult to drink. In some parts of Italy also white grape varieties are macerated and I think this technique is amazing because in the skins there are a lot of aromas that in white wines normally we lose.
But rarely I found white wines in which you are able to understand the grape variety that has been used and the territory from which they come, often tannins tend to homologate these wines, tannins make them all the same even if they come from different territories and very far away one from the other.
Why does this happen?
Because skins and seeds give tannins to the wine, normally in red wines this tannins are smoothen by the complexity of the wine and other components that you can fine in the seed, but in white wine this doesn’t happen.
How can you extract more aromas possible from the skins without producing an extremely tannic wine?
Finally in vintage 2019, following an old technique, I found the perfect balance between complexity and drinkability, which is the real soul of the volcanic territory of Gambellara!
There will be a great surprise soon!
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.