Friday, October 29, 2010

Pressing the Montepulciano, racking the other wines, new olive oil

29 Ottobre
Where does the time go?  We picked the Montepulciano grapes 2 weeks ago and today pressed them.  An error was made during the harvest and some grape must was exposed to more skins than another batch.  This resulted in one tank being a "lighter" wine in both color and tannin extraction than the other.  The one with more skins is seriously good, though, so it seems we will profit from the mistake.

We also racked all the wines off their muddy lees again to clarify them, so the day was long in the winery.  However, now we have a week off, so I can concentrate on studying my pinciples and practices of winemaking book, pruning the olive trees and entertaining my KC guests.
We harvested in the neighborhood of 1800 kg of olives this year and had a record yield of 213 liters of really good olive oil.  Last year, the oil was a bit mild for me, just the way it was, but this year we are back to a full bodied, bitter, spicy, fruity olive oil which will mellow in the next few months, but now is a monster.  Actually 3 monsters as we made 2 single variety oils and one blend.  Below are Leccino olives.
We got our 1st snow in the mountains 2 days ago and the vineyard leaves are turning red, orange and yellow signifying the arrival of Autumnal weather.  The year has been full of work and I don't imagine we will have another this difficult, but in retrospect, like all years at my age, it flew by.

I hope everyone has a safe, fun Halloween, a holiday which is taking off like wildfire here in Italy. Here is your harvest moon to trick or treat by, almost looks like a jack-o-lantern.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Touring with KC friends, Civitella del Tronto, Gola del Infernaccio, etc

Here are some photos from a few of my favorite local places to visit.  We saw a lot of the Ascoli Piceno province, visiting cheese makers, wineries, fortresses, national parks, chocolate factory, salami producers, churches, piazzas, a lavendar farm, the plateau of Castelluccio, a cooking school, lots of good restaurants and that is just a start.  Here are pictures also of San Leonardo church up in the mountains and the work of a Franciscan brother who has put every stone in place the last 40 years.  Fr. Pietro Lavini is now 83 and says he will never finish.  It was first built by the Benedictines in the 800's and had completely collapsed with the few standing parts having been used as an animal stall before he started his work.  A similar story to St. Francis in some ways.
Mike getting ready to enter the "mouth of hell"

Elizabeth's lavendar farm at Lavanda Blu near Carrasai.  She also taught the ladies how to make incredible olive ascolane!

That's Fr. Pietro on the left building the bell tower.

He refused to let anyone set one stone on top of another although he did get help with iron work and some friends help him in other ways.  He lived up here alone until last year when his heart trouble forced him into the lower altitudes in winter.  He still does midnight mass on Christmas eve up here.

Greg trying out some rose hips

Bacco in his favorite place-midstream
I love the altopiano of Castelluccio, this pic was prettier in winter

Civitella del Tronto, last fort to fall in the unification war of Italy, a great view and great place to visit.

Autumn leaves at altitude

Happy Birthday Bro,, time for the Montepulciano harvest finally and winery update

14 Ottobre
Happy Birthday to my little brother today!
I am thinking this picture tells of his good spirit, while at the same time punishing him for not emailing me more often. haha
I have been blessed with visits from lots of KC and US friends these last 3 weeks; the Thomases, Wilcoxons, Tanners, Cordells, Lemoines and Masseys have all been to visit and I have been acting as tour guide in my spare moments.  The last 3 got to watch the pressing of the Cabernet Sauvignon which had completed fermentation and had spent just over a week on the skins and seeds.  The pix below are not in a good order, but the wine and skins etc are transferred to the big red press which has a balloon inside which gently extracts any juice left behind after the free run liquid escapes.  We have about 2500 liters of C.S.  now resting and waiting for the malolactic fermentation to begin. 

 We are looking at a no win situation with our Montepulciano grapes.  While they are ready chemically, the sugar level never raised to a level we were happy with while the total acid has decreased to the correct level.  We will make a lower alcohol wine, but that is ok as I don't want any 15% wines anyway.  We have had a prolonged period of cool, damp weather which is encouraging a mold called bortrytis to infect the grape clusters, so we can't wait any longer.  Tomorrow is the day.

 All of our reds have been analyzed and have perfect numbers, so we are pleased.  Raffaele's Pecorino completed fermentation a couple of days ago, but mine is still at 4% sugar, so probably will finish next week.  We have adopted different fermentation ideas to see what differences result in the wines.  Other than that we transfer the reds every so often to remove the "muddy" precipitates which can add off flavors and we are ready to sit down with our winemaker and start ordering various types of oak barrels to finish them off, so to speak.  I am not a barrique fan, so there will be few of those with more tonneau and larger barrels as the needs dictate with perhaps different places of origin for the oak to see which works best.  I am even open to some MO oak someday...