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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Straight From the Producers Bocca; Harvest 2011...

Between picking and de-stemming, crushing, pump overs and punch downs, racking and pressing, stressing and not sleeping and often barely eating, and forget about showering, we somehow convinced our producers to take 10 minutes to reflect on this years harvest, and the even bigger challenge; to actually write it down! The honesty, passion, and feelings from these producers that jumped off the page while I was typing their words actually brought tears to my eyes more than once.  My nickname is Summer 'easy-tear' Wolff, but it was honestly a moving experience reading through these entries... I hope you all enjoy as much as I did, and a huge warm thank you to all you producers for taking the time to share!


We are missing a few, but here are reports on; Campania, Tuscany, Friuli, Sicilia, Le Marche, Basilicata and Piedmont!

Without further adieu...



The aftermath of destemming... or, 'harvest shrapnel' as I affectionately call it, splattered all over our courtyard

NANNI COPE, Caserta, Campania
"Very early harvest also at Sopra il Bosco, 20 days earlier than average, and 25 days earlier than 2010.  Fortunately all went well, thanks to the beautiful tannins of Palagrello Nero which ripen slowly from the moment of version.  The fruit was ready September 10th, too bad only for the quantity, which was much lower than the average.  Two and a half hectares gave us only 8 tons of grapes... 2011 Nanni Cope will be rather 'rare'!"
- Giovanni Ascione

RAMONI, Montalcino, Tuscany
"Harvest was on the 22nd and 23rd of August, at least a week earlier than usual.  Grapes show great equilibrium and we foresee this vintage to have a strong body and a power that we will try to tame with the help of our wooden barrels and lots of patience."
- Gianni Fabri


SAN LORENZO, Montecarotto, Le Marche
"The harvest at San Lorenzo was not as rich as in past years, the grapes are beautiful, but there is a low yield due to the lack of rain.  Get back to me later on and I'll tell you more :) "
- Natalino Crognaletti

LE DUE TERRE, Prepotto, Friuli
"For someone who is in his 50's, harvest used to be associated with the first day of school.  Long ago it was October 1st.  In these 40 years many things have changed, including the weather.  The smell of summer, lucid air, strong sun, singing cicadas, are all now part of our harvest, even here in Friuli!  This change has brought us our first vintage that we were unprepared for, literally and emotionally.  However, we have learned a new way of talking to our vineyards; remembering what our grandparents used to say, and adding our own new personal experiences.  
As producers of natural wine, it has been a difficult year.  It required an extraordinary amount of patience and hard work.  
This season in Friuli, and especially in the Colli Orientali region, has been characterized by a warm spring with very little rain.  In April we had high temperatures (summer like), followed by a very wet and cold July that kept us incredibly busy in the vineyard.  We had to monitor daily the health and cleanliness of the fruit.  Our neighbor producer had heavy hail, and some other nearby producers lost the entire vintage.  Luckily the hail missed our vineyards.
This is the beauty of this small region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.  We don't have "one and only" microclimate, but many!  The proximity of the sea and the mountains with different air streams and temperatures can make the difference.  Even during tragic events like hail, some areas are destroyed and others untouched.  
August sun, dry days, and the lack of rain made the grapes and the pips and tannins ripen quickly.  August 28th we called our trustworthy harvesters, we sharpened our scissors, and the morning of the 29th we started the harvest of Pinot Nero 2011.  In the first few days of September we harvested Tocai Friulano and Ribolla Gialla for our Sacrisassi Bianco.  After a 10 day break we were ready to harvest the Merlot.
The weather was still beautiful.  Hot days were swept by soft wines.  Grapes were beautiful and smiled at us.  It has been a relaxed harvest and we weren't forced to "steal" the grapes from the plant, like it has happened at times in the past.  Our land is wonderful, but can also be difficult.
We will next harvest Refosco and Schioppetino at the end of September.
Meanwhile Flavio, like a lighthouse guardian, is everyday meticulously checking his grapes.  Prunning leaves back to expose the grapes to the sun, and picking out the small green berries that didn't ripen on the Schioppettino.  He also has been doing some fruit dropping and the bunches that are less, 'perfect'.  He tries to simplify the work of the harvesters that will have to gather only what is left by Flavio on the plant.
Let's hope the weather will be nice until the end of harvest.  Until now we are very satisfied with the results.  When we take the wine off the skins after the fermentation, we will know a lot more about this vintage.  Meanwhile our fingers are crossed.  Being farmers, we know that we must be humble; only when the wine is ready will we be able to toast to our success!
Here at Le Due Terre harvest is still a moment of happiness and an occasion to celebrate together.  Everyday we cook something special and have lunch together.  Old friends sit at the table under the old porch sharing this moment of happiness together.  Everyone hoping that it will be a GREAT VINTAGE"
- Silvana Forte and Flavio Basilicata

VINI LA FAVOLA, Noto, Sicilia
"Harvest has been very good.  Grapes have a good quality even if in Sicily the vineyards have been attacked by downy mildew all summer long.  Never the less however, the vines have produced less and smaller bunches, so the overall production resulted in half of last years quantity.  The harvest was early, and for us has already finished."  
- Corrado and Valeria Gurrieri

CAPRANDOLE, Pontassieve, Tuscany
"Here after a nice season until mid August, harvest arrived in extremely hot weather and drought!  We worked the land at the right moment, so the vineyards suffered very little from the drought and the grapes ripened correctly.  It has been a very awkward season and I can't really predict how this is going to affect the quality of this vintage.  Right now all seems fine even if I harvested only 5 tons of Sangiovese of the Bocciole vineyards.  This vineyard hasn't been in production since 2006 so I'm really happy with the fruit from this 40 year old vineyard.  Even if the yield is low, I've been putting a lot of effort into cultivating it.
I made a strict selection of the other Sangiovese and Merlot for the Tirle.  The latter looks wonderful.  I believe that by September 24th, everything will be ready in the cellar ready for fermentation and I'm confident that the results will be very good as long as these last two weeks don't hold any surprises!"
- Thomas Colella

SAN MARTINO, Forenza, Basilicata 
"The season had been pretty steady until June, then we had lots of rain and a very cold July.  Very unusual. However, we were pretty much on course.  The veraison was completed just slightly before mid August, then from mid August the temperatures jumped, with a lot of sun, and with days that were over 100 degrees Farhenheit.  Vines suffered a little from the heat, but luckily we had 3 days of rain that helped us breath again.  We usually harvest in mid-October and so we are going to be forced to advance our plans.  We hope to have at least 10 days more of lower temperatures.  At night, temperatures drop to 59 degrees.  Uf everything goes well, we won't have to start our harvest until the end of September.  Meanwhile, we keep on looking at the sky.  A farmer should be brave and courageous... however, it's still scary!"  
- Lorenzo Piccin

IULI, Monferrato, Piedmont
"This year the whims of the climate influenced the harvest.  It started off well in the spring, with rain and good temperatures, a cold July, and then a really really hot August and September.  Fortunately we didn't suffer any drought.  Therefore we ended up harvesting around 7-10 days ahead of traditional vintages.  The quality of the grapes is very good, very aromatic, a lot of color, it is only unfortunately the yield that is inferior to the norm.  Pinot Nero was harvested on the 29th of August, and I was really happy after racking after the fermentation finished.  From the 15th of September on we started on the Barbera, and it seems we are working with a really good quality.  We harvested the Nebbiolo on the 21st.  It's too early to say, we are only still fermenting, however it seems we have good things in the cellar, not a lot, but good!  Happy harvest to all!!"
- Fabrizio Iuli

The sunset from our front door on one of the last day's of harvest... fitting :)