Do you think grapes picking period is September? You are probably right, depending in which part of the world you are, but I recently discovered some exceptions, visiting the Cesena Wine Festival, where I met a little winery who invited me to visit its wine yards. The place is up to the hills near Bertinoro, called Polenta. Polenta in Italian also means a typical venetian dish, but this very, very little village is not famous for that! Dante’s, during his runaway from Florence, passed by these lands and heard the history Francesca, the young daughter of Guido who fell in love with Paolo and then died with him (murdered by his husband in the Castel of Gradara). Whenever you travel through the route it leads here, you will see undiscovered Romagna landscapes: in the summer the bright golden lights of sunflowers and wheat country field, in autumn the red and yellow grapes leafs and the gently hills bleary by the soft mist.
These were the natural atmospheres that Tonino Guerra used to describe in his tales, Amarcord, for example.
And this is also what thrilled me when I visited the wine yards of Sergio Lucchi, last week.
We met early in the morning near the Polenta Pieve, where one of our main poets, Giosuè Carducci, used to go and write his poems. With no one around the atmosphere was rarefied and charming, but the real surprise was to find the second blooming of the Albana still there, this are a few photos.
Albana “Gentile” and “Compadrona”, these are the two qualities cultivated here, together with Sangiovese. This is a little wine yard but Sergio has a very special attention to wine and less to commercial aspect. His wine, as others I tasted during Cesena Wine Festival, is a real jump in the traditional Romagna.
No one cares about these grapes except some very expert wine makers who are working on a special mildew, the botrytis, which give origin to sweet and passitos wines. I asked Sergio to tell about this particular technique, to explain and let you understand something more, when you are tasting wine. The formation of noble mildew is a particular and fortunate combination of many factors, moisture, morning, windy climate during the day, suitable grapes, and especially territory with the right climate for the formation of Botrytis.
The grapes are left on the plant until over mature in autumn, in order to concentrate the sugar content of the berry from mid-October until nearly November, depending on weather conditions. The harvest is done by choosing cluster by cluster, those in which the mold has done its job well. The spore of Botrytis breaks the grape skin, making it evaporate up to 50% water content and thus increasing the concentration of sugars in it.
Thus, a wine muffato can be extremely soft thanks to sugars that are transformed into glycerine during the fermentation, but not overly sweet, such as a raisin. The fermentation of a wine botrytised is long and requires a lot of attention, it lasts for months in which you need to check that take place spontaneously triggered tumultuous yeast greedy sugar.
After fermentation, the wine is left to rest in barrels typically, not all new, and left to mature for two years.
Unfortunately Sergio told me that the grapes were not suitable, so this year he want be able to do his special edition of passito, but his Kairos (Sangiovese Passito) was one of the most interesting wines I ever tasted.
Thanks to Sergio of Terre Della Pieve for dedicating me so much time!
This post will partecipate to the contest “I miei libri di viaggio” of Monica Viaggi e Baci, with photos 1,3 and 6!