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Tuesday, 27 January 2009 22:43

When in Autumn 1987 we found that piece of land, placed on the Valdichiana western hills, at the very gates of Chianciano Terme, we knew nothing about wines nor how wine was made: we had been living on bee-keeping around southern Tuscany since 1981.

Luck had it that an elderly farm worker, Agostino Ciuchi, was our guide and by following his indications as well as our curiosity and thirst for knowledge, we learned how to take care of our vineyards.

A wee bit of fertilizer was used for the very first years and then since 1993 we have stopped fertilizing our vineyard altogether. As from 1990 we keep a complete and spontaneous grassing: grass grows, ripens and sows by itself.

On poorer land we lay straw or hay as mulching. We reduced metal copper doses to 75-120 grams per hectare for 5-8 treatments per year.

Powdered sulphur performs its antioidic functions excellently.

Our oldest vineyard, 3.5 hectares, planted in 1968 is composed of a Chianti mixture, typical for those days: Sangiovese, Canaiolo, white and black Malvasia, Trebbiano and a wee bit of Grechetto, called Pulcinculo, in addition to some Mammolo, Fogliatonda and Ciliegiolo vines.

In the new vineyard, planted from 1999 to 2001, the majority of vines belong to Sangiovese plus Syrat and Merlot, Ciliegiolo, Fogliatonda, Mazzese and black Malvasia.

Ripe grapes are hand-picked carefully, kept in small boxes and selected before “disraspatura”. A very short time –a maximum of 30 minutes- between picking grapes and putting them in vats, gives a comfortable beginning to fermentation that develops in practical steel vats and lasts between 10 days and 4 weeks, depending on the different characteristics of grapes as well as vintage years.

All senses concentrate on must: ears, glued to vats , listening to its effervescence; nose catching the complexity of aromas that reveal a good fermentation process; hands feeling its warmth; mouth catching its taste and the development of its metamorphosis. We follow the simple rule that the art of wine making is to discard what is unnecessary from the grapes.

By repeatedly pouring-off and lees-skimming we help must to become that mysterious and wonderful substance called wine.

Afterwards wines enter a quieter phase to mature in woods of different nature and dimensions. Lighter wines in large wood for a short time while those with a heavier body in small wood for longer times.

In 1991 we planted 4 hectares with fruit trees: peaches, plums, cherries, pears and above all apples.

In choosing varieties, we privileged taste, next homeliness and then endurance to main cryptogamic pests.

Fresh fruit is mainly destined to direct sale and transformation. Assortment goes from older “annurca” to younger “goldrush” for apples; “cosciamonaca” and “Stanley” for plums; “bigarreau moreou” for cherries.

We grow about one thousand olive trees, for the majority young ones, on a 3-hectare surface.

Oil is as good as it is of little quantity.

The many birds that feed on our fruit find shade and shelter in the 8 hectares of our wood that for now is left to age but in our project it should be transformed into a coppice, “a wood to be eaten”.

...and then there are us,
partly nomads in our very core but then partly actual keepers of a piece of Tuscan land,
strangers enough not to be obvious,
exiles of an age and culture that has reduced all to merchandise, even acquaintances.

And then we are committed to learn the polytechnic know-how that characterizes the lives of peasants all over the world at all times, in order to save it from oblivion and transmit it to future generations.

It is a thin straw to hold on to, while crossing the rainbow of history.

Paola e Walter

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