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  • New Zealand’s Green Team: Part Two

    Sustainability is serious business for Carrick, located in Central Otago, New Zealand. Nearly 10 years ago, they completed the process of becoming certified organic across their entire vineyard and winery. However, the tendrils of their green philosophy extends well beyond their vines and the word sustainable has more meaning than simply a wine descriptor. From the cardboard they use for their wine cartons which is sourced from a mix of industrial pulp waste and NZ curb-side recycling, to  soap used in the bathrooms that is transferred onto the hand towels, the team at Carrick lives by the mantra, “you are what you eat”.

    For the second instalement in our series on New Zealand's green winemakers, we caught up with Carrick's Chief Winemaker, Francis Hutt, who shared his thoughts on the topic.

    On Carrick’s winemaking philosophy…First and foremost we seek quality fruit from healthy vines. This is our daily focus, and what led us to organic and biodynamic farming. It’s all that cover-cropping, seaweed, preparation 500, and solid hard work in the vineyard that equates to my winemaking being an exercise in understanding site expression, rather than fixing problems with chemical additives. Most of all it is the concept that the land is left in a better state from which we first  started that motivates me to produce quality wine from healthy soil. 

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    On taking a vineyard into organic production…Good communication and a good support network are vital. Build a fit-for-purpose strategy that aligns with the needs of your estate, people, and economic position. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions, plan well, and react quickly to what you’re seeing. Going organic doesn’t mean you do nothing, and remember, what works next door might not work for you.

    On the benefits of organic production when stacked up against conventional growing methods…First off, the people working in a vineyard are not exposed to pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides that have shown to create a whole lot of health problems. A lot of the guys that come through working in the vineyards are completely unaware of the environment they’re exposed to. We want to provide healthy, long term, sustained employment for our community, that’s not having a negative impact on the environment that we share with them. In doing so, then maybe when land scarcity forces the sale of vineyards for housing developments the community might step in and object to such developments.

    In 2014, Aubert de Villaine of Domaine Romanée-Conti came down to our Pinot celebration and we signed the dossier for world UNESCO protection of the vineyards in Burgundy, for precisely the same reason. Nuits-Saint-Georges’ urban sprawl is a hot topic around town. New Zealand doesn’t have the same reputation as the vineyards of Burgundy do, but Kiwis value their environment. All eyes are on the Dairy sector in NZ at the moment, but in time hopefully the public will turn their attention towards grape growing and we will be in a good position to argue our worth to the wider community.

    On the characteristics of organic wine…Resilience, vibrancy, energy and stability. I remember attending an aromatic symposium a few years ago in Nelson; Matthew Jukes, Jamie Goode and a bunch of winemakers where there. We tasted so many wines made with extraction enzymes, with an enormous amount of aroma that did not reflect well with the palate. The wines looked artificial, and after a few years in the bottle they completely fell over.

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    On lessons learnt from organic viniculture…Don’t worry so much about the laggards, they can really get you down. Focus your energy on the people who get it, and are engaged. Spend your time on developing these people’s skills as their engagement will make all the difference. Especially when you ask them to head out hand-weeding first thing in the morning, or assure them that collecting piles, and piles, and piles, and piles of leaves in autumn for compost is worth the effort.

    On the biggest barriers to organic viniculture…Personally, I think regulations are inhibiting growth of the sector. For example, we don’t label organic for Enotria&Coe because of the warehouse auditing process – organic products must be stored differently from non-organic. Plus, it costs you extra to be audited as an organic importing and distribution company. We’ve removed organic claims from all our export markets except for Sweden, Norway and Finland, which is not at all surprising. It’s all these extra little hoops you need to jump through that make it “too hard”. We spend all our time showing that our wines are organic, when non-organic winemaking is seen as straight forward. I think mandatory ingredient labelling might generate more interest from consumers. At present, there are a lot of things in wine that are not put on the bottle. Also as water pollution problems steadily increase, I think people will start asking more questions about farming practices.

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    On the rising popularity of these wines with consumers…They’re definitely gaining traction in New Zealand, and also in places where pollution’s in your face. Like with the Palm Oil peat fires in Malaysia, selling organic wine in Singapore is easy, they get it straight away. China is the same. However organic certification in America means something different to Canada, to Japan to Europe, so it can be confusing. Organic in America is effectively “Natural Wine”, so we keep away from talking about it over there also.

    Carrick sells most of its wine through restaurants in New Zealand. Single vineyard, certified organic works in this context, but in the supermarket, not so much. Buyers just want to know quickly and easily without too much trouble. That’s why we’re certified, to back up our claims. We just need to get comfortable with advertising that fact.

  • Henschke reaches new heights

    Last week, Liv-ex published its fifth Classification of Bordeaux where it places fine wines into five classes solely based on price. On the basis of average trade prices per case, the classification looks at which wine labels would be considered first to fifth growths today.

    For the first time, this year’s classification has been extended to include regions beyond Bordeaux, and we're delighted to see Henschke as just one of the three Australian producers to make the cut. It should come as no surprise that the wine in question which saw Henschke included in the line-up was their iconic Hill of Grace Shiraz.

    Not only is the inclusion an important recognition of the high calibre wine Henschke is crafting, but it also shows that Australia is capable of producing wines that can stand their ground and compete with the very best of Bordeaux.

    To be considered for the list, all wines must be traded broadly with at least five vintages being traded on the platform in the last year, and all wines must be over £250 a case.

    The famous Burgundian estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti topped the charts this year.

  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Poliziano

    Words: Leo Bassano

    Montepulciano’s history has always been linked to the fame of its wine. Legend says that the own was founded by the Etruscan King Lars Porsenna and the people of Chiusi, who changed its name from Mons Mercurius to Mont Politicus. In 1868 many bronze items produced in Chiusi were discovered in an Etruscan tomb near Montepulciano. These included a cylix (wine cup) depicting the image of Fufluns, the Etruscan version of Bacchus (the god of wine), playing with a maenad at cottabus, a game in which wine plays a leading role. The fame of the vineyards of Mons Pulitianus has been documented since the late Middle Ages. In the 16th Century, the cellar man to Pope Paolo III Farnese defined Montepulciano as “vino da Signori”, a wine suitable for noble tables.

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    Vino Nobile’s industry developed in the 1920s and 1930s, and Fantini and Cantucci are two estates from that time still producing wines. In 1933 Cantina Fanetti, presented a prestigious, highly-praised red wine at the first exhibition of typical local wines held in Siena. Other wineries followed this example, and in 1937 a cooperative winery was founded with the aim of creating a sales structure for wine produced by small-scale growers. Most of the wine produced was Chianti, with small quantities of Nobile. However, today the cooperative mainly produces and bottles Vino Nobile. In the sixties, there was a dramatic increase in vineyard planting, as it happened in Chianti and Montalcino. Thanks to Avignonesi and Poliziano Vino Nobile gained momentum in the 80s. Avignonesi’s introduced his Vino Nobile in 1978 and also planted international varieties like Cabernet and Merlot. Recognition of DOCG status came in 1980 and Vino Nobile began a new life.

    The style of Vino Nobile remains difficult to pinpoint. Depending on the producers, you can find resiny, spicy and herbal wines, or fruity and rich ones. Generally speaking, Vino Nobiles have softer tannins than Brunello, and broader less acidic profiles than Chianti Classicos. The slopes of Montepulciano are generally more open, allowing more sunlight and gently rolling than the tight, steep ones of Chianti Classico and Montalcino. The altitudes are similar, but the soils are generally sandier and more alluvial, allowing for an earlier ripening of the grapes. Vino Nobile strikes a balance between Chianti Classico and Brunello.

    The story of Poliziano started in 1961 when Dino Carletti bought 22 hectares of land in Montepulciano and planted specialised vineyards. In 1980 Federico Carletti took charge of the estate, with a more contemporary approach and production philosophy. Over the years the vineyards increased outside the Montepulciano denomination, in Magliano and Cortona.

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    The vineyards in Montepulciano are mostly in the south, sloping towards the east, and grown at an altitude of 280-450 metres above sea level. The soil here is mainly clay and volcanic tufo with a moderate presence of stones. The vineyards in the Cortona DOC denomination produce the label In Violas and are divided into two parcels: Farrata, at an altitude of 350m with sand and clay-rich soil with some skeletal stones, and Cignano, where vines are planted on clay soil with southwest exposure and at an altitude of 300m. The Losha label is produced in the Maremma, where the vineyards near Magliano are planted on rich sandy, clay and limestone soils.

    The vineyards are cultivated organically and each plot is taken care of by hand, from choosing the buds, to pruning or tying back the trellis. They do not use fertilisers or pesticides, instead implementing a rigorous agronomic management, a terroir driven by biodiversity and sustainability.

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    With more than 50 years of experience, Poliziano has perfected the handling process in the cellar, with the objective of producing wines that are not uniform but expressive of their territory, with nuances and personality. In the cellar the grapes are sorted with a new state-of-the-art fibre optic camera destemming machine, the first of its kind in Italy. Poliziano is the perfect combination of new technological approach, and traditional values and wisdom.

    The fermentation cellar was built in 1988, positioned directly beneath the area where the grapes are destemmed, therefore using gravity to move the must into the tanks instead of pumps. The stainless-steel tanks allow for controlled temperature and micro-oxygenation and the techniques used are punching down, delestage, and pumping-over with the different varieties fermented separately. The main aim of the maceration is to extract the pest polyphenols from the skins, the most noble of the tannins. The wines mature in a dedicated aging cellar, completed in 2005, with around 4000 barrels between barriques and tonneaux, including an automated system of controlling the humidity and washing and cleaning the barrels.

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    I was hosted by Jennifer, a lovely American lady who is also a writer and knows her wine very well. We tasted the Rosso di Montepulciano 2015, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2014, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Asinone 2013 and the Mandrone di Lohsa 2012. The Rosso is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot and part of the wine spends around six months in big botte. It’s a wine produced to be fresh, young, with intense fruits such as raspberries, red cherries and hints of pepper. A great combination with an everyday meal like pizza.

    Next, we had the Vino Nobile 2014, a wine made with 80% Sangiovese plus Colorino and Canaiolo, aging in wood for 15 months, two thirds in French barrique and tonneaux and a third in traditional botte. Medium intensity on the nose, with notes of red and black fruit, cherries, forest fruit and some aromatics; soft, smooth tannins with a crisp character. Though it was a difficult vintage, the wine was very elegant and balanced.

    Then it was the time for the top one, the Asinone 2013; the grapes for this wine come from a 12-ha single vineyard, where years of experimentation with Sangiovese identified the best potential for this variety. The wine spends around 18 months in French barrique and tonneaux. It’s intense, perfumed, wild berries, spices and cedar on the nose; the tannins are tight as it feels it would benefit from some more years in bottle; lots of red and black fruit on the palate, such as dark cherries and ripe plums, but perfectly balanced by a vibrant acidity; very long length. The more you drink, the more you think it’s a “meditation wine”. After a few minutes, Jennifer said I had to try it with 8 months aged pecorino Pienza DOP, claiming it was the best match with Asinone and she was right!

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    Last but not least, we tasted the Mandrone di Losha, a Maremma Toscana DOC blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 10% Alicante. The wines spends 18 months in new French barriques and 6 months in bottle. It’s peppery, with tobacco notes, sweet spices and blackcurrant. Even though it’s a big wine, it’s surprisingly easy to drink; hints of smoke with dark plums and refreshing acidity. A wine I would definitely have with barbeque.

    A big thank you to Poliziano’s hospitality, the place is unbelievable and the wine even better.

  • National Mojito Day

    Depending on who you believe, the mojito either came from the Spanish word ‘mojar’, which means to wet, or the African word ‘mojo’, which means to cast a spell. Anybody who’s ever tasted one will agree that it’s thirst quenching and spellbinding in equal measures.

    To celebrate this year’s National Mojito Day, we’ve mixed it up a little with a recipe for a Mojito Popsicle – the perfect  cold treat for these hot summer days. These easy-to-make popsicles have everything you love about mojitos – vibrant mint flavor, tart lime, and of course a punch of rum.

    Mojito Popsicles / Lime Popsicles overhead view

     

    Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
    • 2/3 cup lime juice
    • 3 tbsp Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
    • 2/3 cup soda water
    • 1 small lime, thinly sliced (optional)

    Method

    Boil the water and sugar together in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Purée in a blender with mint, lime juice and rum. Stir in club soda. Pour into the popsicle moulds, add a lime slice and fresh mint leaf to each mould. Freeze until firm, 6 to 8 hours.

    Alternatively, if you want to stick closer to the real deal, Bacardi's signature serve is just as delicious.

    Ingredients

    • 50ml Bacardí Carta Blanca
    • 25ml fresh lime juice
    • 15ml Sugar syrup (1 : 1 ratio) or 2 teaspoons white caster sugar
    • 6 - 8 mint leaves
    • Splash of soda (max 25ml)

    Method - Build

    Glass - Highball

    Garnish - Mint sprig

    Ice - Crushed

  • Peller Icewine Cocktail Competition

    We love Icewine. It’s such a fragrant, flavourful, unique and luxurious wine, which is also perfect for cocktails.

    The Pellers are Icewine pioneers. In fact, they’re amongst the first families to explore the possibility of this unique Canadian dessert wine. With vines cloaking the Niagara Peninsula, frozen grapes are handpicked at -10C, resulting in wines which straddle the fine line between sweetness and acidity.

    To celebrate this extraordinary golden liquid, we launched a cocktail competition for our customers with the chance to win a six-day trip to heart of Canada’s wine country, visiting Icewine pioneers Peller Estates.

    Competition was fierce, but we've narrowed the pack down to five entrants who'll now go on to compete for the grand prize at Imbibe Live. We checked in with the lucky five finalists to find out the inspiration behind their drinks, and their thoughts on using Icewine as a cocktail ingredient.

    Miran Chauhan, The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh

    Cocktail: White Tail

    Inspiration behind your drink?

    The inspiration was simple the flora and fauna of Canada, referring to the white tails of the deer species that reside near the Peller Estates. I took a direct link and used deer antlers to alter the chemical compounds of manzanilla sherry as they contain at least 50% ash content.

    Method

    • 60ml Peller Vidal Icewine
    • 15ml navy strength gin
    • 10ml ash washed manzanilla sherry

    All stirred down over ice. Poured into a chilled ISO glass.

    To make the ash wash: cut into an antler to expose the dry marrow and soak in manzanilla for one month at varying temperatures between 5 and 15 degrees. Turning frequently.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    I got into bartending through working with design consultancies. During my time at various practises where we were designing new concepts for hospitality is would also work in the venues to earn some extra money. I quickly fell for the amazing community structure and exposure to all these great flavours that were around.

    The best part of the job?

    I guess just making people happy which comes from great service. Also being able to travel round the world tasting amazing food and drink helps!

    Miran Chauchan, The Bon Vivant Your cocktail of choice?

    That's a hard one. I go through phases. Right now I love a Bennett Cocktail. Gin shaken with lime, sugar and bitters. It's so simple, but aren't all the best things.

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    Again there are so many. Most recent though must be The Monday Room in New Zealand. Just two guys running the whole show, great food and drink, providing amazing service, and their knowledge is right on point without the ego.

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    Well it's already naturally balanced so all you have to do it find a direction that you want the cocktail to go in. So it's a case of just adding one or two subtleties to get you there. Also the food pairings you can achieve are endless.

     

    Thomas Ryan, Doctor Ink’s Curiosities, Exeter 

    Doctor Ink's Curiosities_TRyan

    Cocktail Name: 1.5 Degree Shim

    Method

    • 50ml Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine
    • 25ml Peychauds Aperitivo
    • Top Soda

    Built over ice and garnish with frozen orange slices and red berries. It can be scaled to a Punch Serve very easily as it involves no citrus or bitters.

    Inspiration behind your drink?

    I was heavily inspired by the shim/low-ABV trend emerging of late and also wanted a drink which was accessible to the summer crowds of Exeter. The name is a reference to the winery's geographical location in relation to Bordeaux, France, where the Cabernet Franc grape originates from.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    Started as a barback in a high-volume South-American cocktail bar and tried my first Old Fashion after my second shift. Was instantly hooked, eventually progressed to tending bar at a Video Games bar, and then moved to Exeter about half a year back, where the owner wanted us to be more pro-active about entering comps.

    The best part of the job?

    The creative freedom. I come from an arts degree background, love nothing more than when a customer comes in on a quiet evening and says "what can you make with that bottle there?"

    Thomas Ryan, Doctor Ink’s Curiosities

    Your cocktail of choice?

    Manhattan, with a nice punchy Rye and fruity Vermouth.

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    Partaking in a large, international competition, earlier in the year, it was an all-day event that tested all areas of my ability; from a speed round, to a blind taste test.

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    The concentration of the flavour, which can be attributed to it's unique production style, means that icewine can be used to sub different elements in riffs. Whereas ordinarily I would just use wine products to replace Vermouth, icewine can be subbed in for the sweet element in drinks (so something like an Old Fashioned) or even as the main spirit, as it has such a big presence, creating a lower abv drink.

     

     

    Owain Williams, Filter + Fox, Liverpool

    Cocktail: Leapster spritz

    Inspiration behind your drink?

    Taking inspiration from both the amazing produce of the Niagara region and the history of bold individuals hurling themselves over the falls in wine barrels! Here I'm showcasing Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine and contrasting its flavour profile with a bold grape vinegar from a producer just twenty minutes up the road from the Peller winery in Niagara. Using a soda to spritz the drink keeps the alcohol level exceptionally low, and this helps to emphasise the sweet fruit characteristics of the icewine.

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    • 35ml Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine

    • 10ml minus8 concord vinegar

    • Lemon Balm

    • Black Pepper Soda

    In a wine glass build all ingredients over ice and spritz with soda, garnish with a lemon zest.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    Beginning with a part time job at the young age of sixteen, I was completely won over by the creative and sociable nature of the drinks industry. Since then I have worked in most aspects of food and drink and finally opened my first bar in 2015.

    The best part of the job?

    The best part of my current job is meeting new people from different parts of the world that have such a rich and varied experience of food and drink. Enjoying aspects of their culture and tasting products from their region is a constant education and that is amazing.

    Your cocktail of choice?

    Spritz. Enjoying the Dolce Vita with lower abv cocktails in the sunshine is the way to go!

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    On a wine trip in 2016 I was lucky enough to visit the La Giuva winery in Verona, Italy. Sitting ontop of a hill overlooking the vineyards, sipping an ice-cold dessert wine while eating aged Parmiggiano Reggiano was an experience of a lifetime. Visiting the places where products originate from gives such a deeper connection and understanding of a product and I hope to get the chance to visit the Peller Estate soon!

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    Peller Icewine is a great ingredient for bartenders to use as it has a fantastic natural sweetness, which means you do not need to artificially sweeten your drinks. It also has a real intensity of flavour that holds beautifully through a mixed drink. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it delivers a beautifully smooth mouthfeel to a drink, keeping all other flavours in the mouth a little longer and this works fantastically in cocktails.

     

    Lynsey Cameron, Cafe Gandolfi, Glasgow

    Cocktail: Celtic Cuvee

    Method

    Add 4 raspberries to 25ml Peller Vidal Blanc Icewine, 25ml homemade pine-infused cranberry juice and shake with ice. Fine strain and top with Peller Ice Cuvee. Garnish with pine needle.

    Cafe Gandolfi and Bar Gandolfi_LCameron+MGateInspiration behind your drink?

    I wanted to keep the serve simple with a focus on provenance and fresh summer flavours. I wanted to create a drink which would be easy to replicate and suitable for large groups as a nod to the many events held at Peller Estates.  I looked into indigenous fruits for both Ontario and the west of Scotland and came across: raspberries (which balance the sweetness of the Vidal Blanc) and pine (which would create a cool minerality). Cranberries of course are a Canadian staple and would create a tartness and a fantastic pop of colour.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    I guess like every bartender I took my first shift behind a local bar pulling pints to help out a friend and never looked back. I moved to Glasgow after that working in a huge Irish bar and then found myself in charge of a bar with 120 gins and a bar team with a penchant for classic cocktails. I guess that’s where the bar tending chapter really began.

    The best part of the job?

    The creative aspect is definitely the best part of the job for me, the social side of bar tending goes without saying. Having the chance to start out with an idea and some interesting products and create a drink that you can mix for someone right in front of them. There is definitely a comradery between bartenders and an almost childish energy in seeing something that doesn’t exist as a liquid yet and trying to making that happen together.

    Lynsey Cameron, Cafe Gandolfi

    Your cocktail of choice?

    Definitely a Negroni, but I cannot resist an Espresso Martini.

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    My most recent outstanding cocktail experience would have to be Bryant and Mack in Edinburgh, a Private Detective style prohibition bar, with brilliantly relaxed service and meticulously creative drinks. I love going out to eat and it would be difficult to choose just one food experience, I’m always overwhelmed by choice and flavours.

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    Having such a complex and well-developed agricultural product like Peller Icewine as the sweet element of a cocktail is interesting and unique and makes for a very considered cocktail. The other ingredients must compliment the complexity of the Icewine’s flavour and sweetness on the palate as the sweet element, which often is a necessity rather the main feature in the balance of a cocktail.

  • Uncovering Argentina

    For years, Les Somerville had been longing to get to Argentina to discover the unique wine region of Salta. Earlier this year, the opportunity presented itself, and as Les chronicles below, he was as impressed with the place as his anticipation had grown. 

    After the 30-hour journey to get to Salta from London – planes, trains, more planes, minibus, more planes, and then the three-hour drive – you might be forgiven in thinking we would be have been a little jaded. This was not the case and, as we’d soon discover, the travel would be totally worth it.

    It might’ve been lengthy, but the journey up to Salta proved to be a fantastic experience. The landscape is so expressive, starting with very lush green hillsides, and as you make your way through you see the soil change colour and end up in a very baron, almost Star Wars desert-like environment. The more baron it gets, the more you start to notice the standing guards that dot the hillsides. These are massive cactus plants that can survive in the more rugged landscape. They are protected by law, so much so that the routes of the vines when we made it to El Esteco work their way round them as they have a sacred energy. Looking uncannily like people in the evening light it’s quite a site to behold.

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    Once fed and rested – wont bore you with the amazing food and wine just yet – we met El Esteco’s viticulturist, Francisco Tellechea. Obviously, my first question was: “What are the varieties you grow here”. To which Francisco responded something I was not expecting to hear: parcels of Marsanne and Roussanne, but that will be a future project following his time working in the Languedoc. Next, he took us to the top of the tower at the winery, where we were given a breakdown of what they do, how they work with the environment, the history behind the winery, plus their connection with the farmers of the valley.

    It’s such an interesting environment; huge hillsides barricading the valley on both sides, and it is these hillsides that ultimately allow the viticulture to work. There is cloud cover over both mountain ranges, which means that in the morning it takes until around 9/10am for the sun to break through into the valley. This allows the grapes and vines to have cold nights before the sun starts to build up the heat. By the time it hits 3pm, the sun has moved from south to north, and starts to hit the cloud cover on the Quilmes Mountains. This is the hottest part of the day and a lot of work has gone into the orientation of the vine rows to maximise heat, photosynthesis, and canopy management.

    Looking at some of the vineyards and seeing 47-year-old Torrontes vines was amazing; they were like individual people, each with a story to tell and such character. As you can imagine, irrigation is key to the vineyards, especially on the valley floor as it’s so exposed. They have two main methods for this – drip irrigation and flood irrigation. The water is collected way up in the hills from rain that comes down over the Andres: there are over a 100-year-old waterways built by hand that still bring the water down the valley in channels that can be dammed depending on where they need to have it go. Small reservoirs in the valley floor are then used to irrigate the vines.

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    The flood irrigation which we watched is used from August through to February, every three weeks the furrowed channels between the vines are flooded with water and this gradually permeates into the soil and the vines. Only 50% of the water will be used, as the rest is swallowed up by evaporation back up into the atmosphere for it to start its journey all over again. The drip irrigation along the rows of vines – about 12 inches up – only has 10% evaporation, so is a far better system.

    One of the points Francesco made particularly clear was how they need to makes the most of the environment and use everything to its maximum potential. The grape must after harvest is mixed with goat manure from the goats that roam the mountain ranges. This is mainly used on new plantings to build up nutrients in the soil. For the pergola process they use in some of the vineyards it can be four years before the first harvest so they have time to build up the soil.

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    The other thing that impressed me was the feeling of community within the pickers, groups of 25 with one managing the work. When they’re pruning back through the vintage there is a lot of stems and vine arms cut back to develop the structure they want. After the pickers shift has finished, a tractor will drive through the vineyard and the team loads up a trailer and this then will drop the wood back off at their houses, as most houses have wood-fired boilers.

    All this, combined with the fact there are on average five earthquakes a day, makes it such a fascinating place to visit. Add food, company, and ultimately wines into the equation, and it truly opens your eyes to the breadth of knowledge, experience, and forward thinking that this winery has in spades.

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