Italy, April-May-June 2015

“The quality of wine. Chapter XII”

Heaven has finally sent us a lovely spring. The season has been very favourable.

These are the phenological stages of the vine:

  1. From pruning, which I started in the second ten days of February and, therefore, the start of the winter bud, then bleeding, bud swell, white whole tip and green tip;
  2. The start of leaf development with the emergence of the leaves, the various stages of leaf development, from the first to the fourth leaf opening
  3. The appearance of the inflorescence with visible bunches, agglomerated flower buds, separate flower buds;
  4. Flowering, with the start of flowering, flowering, full flowering, end of flowering;
  5. To the development of fruit, which is the current situation at the end of spring, with the development of fruit and the start of fruit set.

All of the stages have gone well at Case Basse, the vines are really lovely and their phenological  development has been very favourable so far, with little humidity, a lot of heat and light and quite low night-time temperatures.

We cannot emphasise enough that the grape quality, and therefore of the wine made exclusively from those grapes grown by the producer, is the result of all that manual work that the farmer carries out with great care and attention, starting with pruning and disinfection of each cut and the subsequent cicatrisation: if the cut remains exposed, water and/or humidity get in, causing irreparable damage to that vine; renewing the staking; tying each vine to the stake so that leaf development has good support: special care must be given to the manual hoeing of each vine in order to remove weeds from the roots (especially Cynodon dactylon), which cause damage to the development of the leaf apparatus and the bunch.

During winter we carried out significant drainage works along the external part of the vineyard and between rows, in order to drain the water out of the vineyards, and we cleaned the woods surrounding my vineyards to achieve better air circulation, which was very time consuming, but I am sure that this work will enable us to manage grape ripening better.

I would like to underline what I have been writing and claiming for many years: the difference between industrial grapes and artisan grapes is in the use of machinery in the vineyard; my opinion is that the vine cannot and must not be touched by any machine whatsoever, only an expert person (who is in the vineyard every day, using his brain, eyes and hands) can best manage the vine’s development to achieve healthy, ripe grapes – an essential condition for making a great wine. And this is completed in the cellar, where, in my opinion, wines should never be filtered, clarified or pressed and no product should ever be added to the must and wine (except for very small amounts of sulphur dioxide). We need great care, concentration and patience, as the wine must age for a long time. The great Barolo of a dear friend of mine has been ageing in large barrels for nine years: for the moment, I have reached a maximum of about seven years of ageing in large Slavonian oak barrels and my average, through the years, is five years.

We have recently organised a meeting at Case Basse on the theme “The new labour reform bill, including the consequences inherent in tax and social security benefits that permanent work contracts entail.” The presentation by the lawyer Falasca, an expert in the sector, was extremely interesting and very in-depth, as was the intervention of friends which made a valuable addition to the proceedings. I am very glad to be able to organise such stimulating events at Case Basse and we traditionally organise several conferences each year on specific themes on wine, as well as other themes of general interest. I have always considered meetings with scholars from various sectors very important for the growth of the culture of our family and friends.

Turning to current affairs, the economic situation in Italy continues to be difficult and there is also the crisis in Russia: let’s hope that men of good faith get the upper hand and that arms are not used. Fortunately for us, despite the crisis, we have sold the whole of our 2007 and 2008 production of Toscana IGT Soldera 100% Sangiovese and we are waiting for the 2009, which is ageing in barrels, to be ready for bottling.

In this period the national press, perhaps because of the EXPO theme, has been writing a lot about food and themes that are close to my heart:

  1. In the food industry, damage caused by pesticides, massive fertilization, enormous wastes of water, single cropping and everything that makes a significant contribution to climate change;
  2. Huge deforestation in order to rear livestock (remember that one kilo of steak needs 10 thousand litres of water);
  3. A huge waste of energy and consequent pollution for transporting foodstuffs, of which 35% of the total are destroyed and not consumed in the western world; we must also calculate how much energy we waste in each household by preserving food in fridges and freezers;
  4. The food industry has to sterilise products and this goes totally against what our organism needs, inasmuch as the combination of bacteria normally present in our intestine makes up a veritable endocrine organ, which produces neurotransmitters, such as those used by the brain. Recent studies confirm the importance of natural food on brain activity.

The national press has reported the words of a great contemporary Italian writer, who said at a university assembly, “Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community and were quickly silenced. He also said, “television had once promoted the ‘village idiot’ as a means of allowing the viewer to feel superior. The ‘tragedy’ of the internet is that it has promoted the village idiot as a ‘bearer of truth.” He then invited newspapers and schools “to teach everyone to filter the information they receive from the internet: knowing how to copy is a virtue, but information should be compared.”

What do you think?