Posted by Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer
After last weekend's rain we have been enjoying the sun this week, which gives us tranquility while completing the harvest in the Maremma and finishing picking the Merlot in Chianti Classico. Next, we have to decide if we want to take a break or not, depending on whether the Sangiovese on our Chianti Classico estate has reached perfect maturity.
In the vineyards, we strive for the best without compromises, but to obtain perfection in the wine cellar, one has to face reality. You have to understand and accept the different quality levels of the grapes and then make the best out of it—not less, but also not more. So, the limiting factor is always the quality of the grapes—if this quality is not superior then the wine will never be superior. Moreover, I truly believe in accepting the quality of each grape parcel. I do not fiddle around and try to polish something up, when it's not actually in the grapes. Why? Because this would lead to a wine that is not right and is not balanced within itself. It’s a bit like dealing with other people: Let them be good in what they are and do not try to change them away from their true personality.
After the must contact phase, we have to decide if the respective young wines have the structure that allows for malolactic fermentation in a new barrique (225 liters), a used barrique or in a new or used tonneaux (550 liters), or if we're better off aging the wine in the stainless steel vat. Once the malolactic is completed, which will take until November, we then have to decide grape variety by grape variety and quality level by quality level, and in what medium the young wines should age. Again, we use new and used barriques and tonneaux. Our entry-level wine matures for twelve months in tonneaux, while our flagship wines age for up to 20 months in barriques.
If we realize after the malolactic phase that a young wine would suffer during oak barrel aging, then we sell this wine as bulk wine, as it will not suit our expectations or criteria. Luckily, this does not happen too often, as the funds from this sale would not even cover our costs. For this harvest, I believe we will not be selling off one single liter, as I am really confident about the quality, because we managed to pick exactly at the optimum time in nearly all vineyards.
Talk to you next week. Barbara.
Tom Eddy — Napa Valley, California — October 5, 2008 6:58pm ET
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