My winery uses systems that, for all their modernity, have their roots firmly bedded in long-established traditions. Take the vertical construction of the buildings, which allows us to use the force of gravity itself to create movement in the crushed grapes, musts and wines. And even though my maceration vats are equipped with the most sophisticated mechanisms for punching down the cap, we have reclaimed a very old, yet very effective maceration technique, manually “pumping” the wine over the cap. This prevents any of the cap from remaining dry, which would impede the transfer of the precious substances in the skins. The strict temperature controls, which accompany every stage of production, are an altogether more modern affair. For ageing the wine, much thought has gone into choosing different types of wood and identifying ideal wood/grape combinations. After many repeated, painstaking experiments, I now boast a stock of the finest wooden barrels. They are produced with different woods from the most renowned French forests, which have been seasoned for at least three years outdoors. These barrels, which are particularly pure in terms of their composition, lend the fruity notes in my wines a subtle sweetness, resulting in a profile of exceptional elegance and refinement in the final product.
Perhaps I can explain that better: after the grapes are destemmed and lightly pressed, each separate, temperature-controlled, steel maceration vat is fed from above without the use of pumps or screwpumps. Maceration lasts for roughly 12-15 days with an intense regime of pumping the wine over the cap and punching the cap down. The temperature is monitored and regulated throughout the process. After it is devatted and racked for the first time, the wine is poured into the barriques in which it undergoes the process of malolactic fermentation.
Everything is done in keeping with the tenets of contemporary winemaking in Italy and around the world, and is rooted in the regulations governing the production of DOC Bolgheri wines produced with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grapes. Our planting system is particularly innovative for this part of the world. Yield is low (around 800 g per plant, and roughly 6,000 kg per hectare), with a high plant density (1.30 by 0.85 m, with low, spurred-cordon training) and a high number of plants per hectare (c. 9,500).
Not everybody knows what malolactic fermentation is, and why the wine from each grape variety is refined separately.
What is malolactic fermentation?
After the first maceration and devatting, and an initial process of drawing the wine off the lees, almost all of my red wines are transferred to wooden barriques. This is done at a relatively early stage with the basic aim of allowing the famous “second fermentation” to take place in wood. By the time this fermentation process takes place, the wine is already “dry”, by which I mean, the sugars have all been converted. However, the wine still has a substrate of hard, unpleasant acidity. During malolactic fermentation these flavours gently soften and grassy tastes and aromas are largely eliminated. Malolactic fermentation in the barrel also contributes to a better synthesis of the wood and fruit notes.
Why is each batch of wine from different grapes refined separately?
When making our red wines, each of the constituent wines – i.e. the wine from each grape variety used in the blend – is aged separately (for a minimum of 12 months in the case of Adèo, 18 months in the case of Arnione and 24 months for our Campo alla Sughera) in new barriques of French oak, that have undergone varying levels of toasting.
This being a key stage in the wine-making process, we mature each batch of wine from each grape separately (and there are quite a number of them, given the various grape/vineyard combinations in play) with a view to identifying the best possible combinations of wood and grape.
Every grape responds differently to the variables – type of wood, length of ageing period, level of toasting – and it is by enabling, rather than suppressing, this response that we can achieve the best results.
Having obtained the best possible “responses”, we seek the unique and – we hope – definitive overall answer as we proceed with the final assemblage.
This definitive blending is carried out before the wine is bottled. Our wines are aged in their bottles for a minimum period of 3 months, in the case of Adèo, or 12 months for Arnione and 24 months for Campo alla Sughera. Our white Achenio wine rests on the lees for six months in oak casks. After it is blended and bottled it is aged for a minimum of a further six months in glass.