Wednesday, June 24, 2015
2 Wine Tastings, 1 Week
Within this week, we had the opportunity to visit two wineries. Both experiences were extremely interesting and gave us a very real, in depth look at the wine making and storing processes here in Italy. The first we visited was the La Pievuccia winery, which was just a thirty-minute walk from our home at Santa Chiara. During this visit, we learned a little bit more about the very early stages of wine making. I was surprised to find that this place was not merely a winery, but acres and acres of beautiful farmland that even included a bed and breakfast. Our guide on the farm explained that the facility was part of an exclusive German bed and breakfast company, which has certain, strict environmental requirements. For example, the company requires that nearly all of the bed and breakfast’s food is a product of their farm (all fresh and organic fruits and vegetables) and that its energy sources are all natural. (The facility utilized solar panels that had the ability to employ thirteen kilowatts.) The farmers utilize a biodynamic method in their farming, which uses different methods to focus primarily on the wellbeing of the plants. This particular farm utilizes a lot of compost in their farming. They also use as little chemicals as possible. For example, when farming their grapes used for wine, they use minimal sulfur and copper spray. This is because if too much of these chemicals are used for cleaning these grapes, the grapes lose some of their best qualities in order to defend themselves. Furthermore, our guide explained that the grapes used for wine are all hand picked and then brought to the wine-making machinery to ferment. The grapes used for white wines are processed without the grape peels, the grapes for red wines are processed with the peels still attached, and rosés are processed with the peels only for about five or six hours. The wines that are supposed to age are stored in wooden barrels and with a cork when finally bottled. The wooden barrels and corks allow oxygen and proper gas exchange for these wines, which aids in the desired aging. The wines that don’t require aging, which are usually the white wines, are stored in metal containers and have a metal cap when bottled, as to not allow oxygen to touch the wine. La Pievuccia makes around twenty thousand bottles of wine yearly, and they bottle all of these in one day! Later on in the week, we visited Cantina Del Redi in Montepulciano. Here, we saw more of the wine storage process rather than the making process. When we arrived, we walked down several stone steps that our guide explained were originally used for horses! This underground area is about nine centuries old and now serves as the perfect wine cellar due to its one hundred percent humidity and constant cool temperatures. The cellar is filled with barrel after barrel, full of wine. The barrels must remain full in order to keep the oak from drying out, and each barrel holds around thirteen thousand bottles of wine. (These barrels must be cleaned out every five years, and they must be replaced after the wood disintegrates over time.) The barrels are made from oak all the way from Croatia, due to the fact that the Italian oak would cause the wine to be too bitter. These wines are stored for very strategic amounts of time in order to create the perfect taste. Each wine we tried at both locations was absolutely wonderful, and I loved seeing the behind the scenes view of Italy’s world famous wine!