[Club Vino] Harvest news from
the Barolo wine hills; Pebblebed harvest update; Festa update
News from the Barolo wine hills
Mario Fontana of Cascina
Fontana comes up for breath after some weeks of near non-stop
activity in the vineyard and wine cellar to give us the first report
on the 2006 vintage. Writes Mario:
The harvest this year has given me a great deal of
satisfaction for the quality of the grapes, but it has also been
a very frenetic time, more so even than usual. We began the harvest
of the Barbera grapes on the 28th September in the Pozzo vineyard
of Castiglione Falletto and the day after, we harvested the Barbera
grapes in the Sinio vineyard behind the Castello [we visited both
vineyards last year on the Club Vino trip]. Acidity, sugar levels
and colour were all very good. After only 6 days (last Friday),
I decanted the Barbera off its skins after the first fermentation
and the result was excellent: deep colour, acidity typically high
which is what we seek in Barbera, and an alcohol level of a little
more than 13 degrees.
We began the harvest of the Nebbiolo grapes of Barolo
on Wednesday 4 October, beginning first with the cru vineyard Villero
and we finished on the Sunday with the second cru Valleti (both
these special vineyards are in Castiglione Falletto). The bunches
of grapes were very healthy and in great condition, and the results
here are also promising in terms of colour, acidity and sugar levels.
As always, the final harvest was the Nebbiolo vineyard at Sinio
[which produces Mario's exceptional Nebbiolo delle Langhe vignetto
il Castello]. Also here the grapes were very good quality.
Right now in the cellar, I am vinifying both Nebbiolo
di Barolo and Nebbiolo di Sinio. It is cautious time and I hope
to not have problems and that we will get good results. However,
this harvest has been molto impegnativa and not been without its
difficulties. For example, we had to be absolutely ready to anticipate
the precise moment to harvest the Nebbiolo this year because in
the last 20 days it has been far warmer than usual and the grapes
matured more quickly than expected. This meant that there were problems
in the cellar in finding sufficient space since the Barbera was
still fermenting! At this time I was working 20 hours a day, in
the cantina with the wines, and in the vineyard with the harvest.
One of the tasks in the cellar that I undertake is
the rimontaggio, twice a day, that is every 10 to 12 hours.
It takes me about 40 minutes per tank to do this, but it is important
for the creation of supple red wines through the extraction of tannins
that are soft and not overly harsh. [When red wine ferments, the
mass of skins that give wine colour, tannin and extract sits at
the top of the tank - it is important to keep this semi-solid mass
wet and so the rimontaggio process involves pumping liquid from
the bottom of the tank back to the top, spraying it over the skins
rather like a shower.]
It is hard and non-stop work at this period of the
year, but there are special moments too. It is molto bello when
friends come to help harvest. I love the moment in the cantina when
we press the grapes all together and see the red juice run out.
And best of all is in the evenings, all together with family and
friends, sitting around the dining table in our house, exhausted
but satisfied, and we enjoy perhaps a glass or two - or maybe more
- of our own wines! Yes, there is satisfaction in this.
Luisa and I are very much looking forward to being
with you all for the Festa di San Martino in November! A more calm
moment of the year for us, a time to celebrate with you. We will
bring over some very special bottles to share with you all!
Un abbraccio a tutti voi.
Pebblebed harvest update - final picking and harvest lunch
The Pebblebed harvest
is progressing well with great yields and quality! Sugar levels
in the grapes are well above last years and with 6 tonnes harvested
and 10 tonnes to go we should produce double last years number of
bottles! We hope to produce a barrel-aged red wine, a sparkling
rosé and a desert wine in addition to the Pebblebed rosé
and dry white we produced this year.
Many thanks to eveerybody who has helped us with the
harvest so far.
Final Picking Dates:
Sunday 15th 9am till 12
Sunday 22nd 9am till 1pm followed by harvest lunch
Please bring secateurs if you can
Festa di San Martino November 17th at Michael Caines at
Just a reminder that if you've previously emailed
me to say that you would like to join us for the Ride for Life Festa
di San Martino (in aid of Force) with winemakers Mario and Luisa
Fontana at ABode Exeter on November 17, then in order to secure
your place, please confirm as soon as possible and send payment
to me (£65 per person inclusive cheques payable to 'Ride for
Life' c/o Quay Cottage, Ferry Road, Topsham EX3 0JJ). Places are
limited and are going fast.
Incidentally, for those unable to make the Festa,
Mario will be in the Wine Cellar on the morning of Sat November
18 and we will also have an informal evening of wine, food and friends
on that same evening. If you would like to meet Mario and Luisa
then, do drop me an email.
Vintage report, vineyard news and recipes from our
Club Vino Tuscany trip to follow next time.
Best to all,
Marc and Kim