Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Hedgehog House (Montepulciano, Italy)

The coolness of the crypts are a suitable place for the massive barrels, due to it’s ease of regulating the humidity, that towered over our entire group as we walked through the de’ Ricci wine cellar. Made of Slovenian oak from Croatia, these barrels hold enough wine to make 14,000 bottles in one sitting. Due to the size of these barrels, they must be built into the walls directly and cannot be transferred or moved into their space.

The wine produced reflects the wood in its subtle, spicy flavor, which is produced from the fermentation that takes place in the barrels. In order to keep the flavor of the wine pure, the barrels must be cleaned every five years and replaced every eighteen. The barrels are completely sealed except for a small opening in the face of the barrel that must be utilized in the cleaning process. A worker must squeeze through the narrow opening and once inside must scrub the walls of the barrel with sandpaper, making sure to destroy the bacteria, which have accumulated in the tartrate crystals during fermentation. If the barrel is not properly cleaned, the bacteria will give the wine a peculiar taste, described by our host as “wet horse”, I am assuming this could be comparable to “wet dog”.

The wine cellar was previously the private church of the Ricci family. Due to the fact that the family had many religious figures in their lineage accounted for the size of the sanctuary. The most interesting fact that I enjoyed during our tour was the origin of the family name Ricci. It is said that the ancestor of the Ricci’s was a scholar who used his observational skills to accurately predict the weather. He was accused of witchcraft and when explaining his practices, watching hedgehogs walk in and out according to weather patterns, he was absolved of his charges and baptized as Riche de’ Ricci, which in Italian is roughly translated into hedgehog of the hedgehog. This is why there is a hedgehog in the Ricci family crest. - BP

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will appear if approved. Thank you.