Matt & Luigi
We just received this harvest report from Katia at San Polino, a certified organic-biodynamic producer in Montalcino. Thanks Katia!
2012 Vendemmia at San Polino
Well here we are again, four days into the harvest...it’s incredible to think that another year has passed...
We’re a good team this year, each with our different roles:
- Luigi, my husband, notes the characteristics of the different grape batches, organizes the selections and decides which of the big wood vats they should be put into, to best bring out their potential for the making of fine wines.
- Alberto, our right-hand-man and close colleague, manages the work in the fields, the picking schedules, the crushing of the clusters, and the back and forth on the tractor; he comes in with full-to-bursting boxes and leaves with freshly washed ones to lay out again along the vineyard rows.
- Paolo, a great guy from Montalcino, and Matt, our young, lovely Californian helper, lift the full boxes in and out of the tractor and gently drop the grapes, cluster by cluster into the de-stemmer.
- Bianca and Susanna with the others in the fields pick while teasing and joking.
- Altin, Alberto’s younger brother, fills in wherever necessary, on the tractor, smiling and generally being merry.
- Katia, myself, is in the winery, connecting the pumps, washing down the vats, sitting on top of them as the grapes come in to see that the consistency is right and that the vats don’t overflow, while pumping the new wines over, morning and evening...and of course, making sure that no-one goes hungry…
Matt & Alberto
The harvest has been surprising this year.
The grapes are extraordinarily good, considering the rough ride that they have had. Earlier in the summer we had come to expect a difficult harvest due to the dry winter and terrific heat from early June into late August, but, thank god, or whoever, it rained at the end of August/early September and the grapes were saved along with us.
We’re going to make some very wonderful wines, with great colour and alcohol that will range from 13.5 to 14.7, just right. Early days, but that’s our prognosis. Watch out for San Polino Brunello di Montalcino 2012!!!!
I have my first morning off (semi, as I’m being called back work). With my hands blackened by the colour and tannins of the grapes I’m clacking away on my laptop at the kitchen table. I can hear the pump working in the winery under the living room. We still have 2.5 hectares (6 acres) to pick. We’ll start on the fields in front of the house this afternoon. I wish our kids were here, three of them plus a grandchild, but university terms unobligingly start before the harvest – a very inconsiderate decision on the part of the school authorities, don’t they know any better??
Katia & Matt
The grapes in the vats will start to ferment in a day or two; we don’t add shop-bought ferments, we just allow the natural yeasts on the clusters to do the job, which ultimately makes for a far more authentic San Polino terroir-driven wine.
The vats will explode into action one by one, and we’ll be taking turns at night duty for the next ten days or so making sure the bubbling grapes are kept under control.
Gigi (husband) bought me a small loudspeaker for my laptop so I’ll have my music and audiobooks for these long and wonderful nights.
We are right bang in the middle of our 2012 harvest!!!!
San Polino 2012 Vendemmia Recipes
I believe it was Napoleon who said that a good army marches on its stomach. Well the same is true for a good team at the grape harvest. It’s important to provide lots of good filling meals to make sure that everybody involved feels well-nourished and happy.
So here are a few of the recipes for the meals we made over the past days. Easy with quick preparation time and very yummy.
I’d like you to note that even if these dishes have a long cooking time you can be off doing something quite different while the pot is simmering away on its own. For example, I was off cutting grapes. Also please note that the exact quantities of ingredients you use, or their proportions, don’t matter.
Tuscan bean soup (ribollita/zuppa di fagioli): dice carrots (4ish) and celery (5ish sticks), cook them for a little in olive oil, add in around 800g/1kg of pre-cooked borlotti beans and extra water, roughly cut up not less than 10 large leaves of chard, spinach if you can’t find chard, dice 3 largish potatoes, cover with water, a little salt and leave to simmer slowly for a couple of hours or so. Eat with grated parmesan, a dribble of fresh olive oil and big chunks of fresh bread. Delicious and filling.
Roast vegetables (verdure in forno): Cut into large strips any combination fresh fennel, carrots, red and yellow peppers, egg plant, onions, whole garlic cloves. Sprinkle over a little salt and a reasonable amount (not too much) olive oil. Put in a medium oven for an hour or more. Everybody loves this dish.
Pesto: Take a few handfuls of basil, half a peeled clove of garlic, half a small mild chilli pepper, a good handful of walnuts and hazelnuts, a pinch of salt and put all of these in a mixer. Add in a little water. Mix them into a rough paste and put this into a large bowl and cover with olive oil. Cook whatever pasta you like, spaghetti or penne are good, al dente. Mix the cooked pasta into the pesto in the big bowl. Add a little water if the pasta and pesto are too sticky. Serve and sprinkle on grated parmesan cheese and a drop of olive oil.
Tuscan style meat sauce (ragù): Sounds complicated but is very, very easy!
Take 4 onions, 3 carrots and 3 celery stalks and chop them up fine or whizz them around in the blender. Fry them in olive oil in a large based pan, together with a crushed small chilli pepper until soft/browned. Add in 600g/800g of mincemeat, which you can keep squashing with a wooden spoon to make sure that it cooks in fine little pieces. Wait for the water to come out of the meat and after about 20 minutes you’ll find that the mix starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. If you have some red wine at hand (of course we do) you can throw some in and wait for it to boil off. If you don’t have any, just jump this step. Whether or not you have added wine you can now add around three/four cans (not too large) of chopped tomatoes. Then just leave your pan simmering, partially closed with the cover for at least two/three hours on a very low flame. I usually place the cooking pan on top of a saucepan lid without a handle to prevent the ragù from burning.
Check it and give it a stir every 20/30 minutes or so. If it starts to dry up either throw in a glass of red wine or a glass of water. Add salt to taste.
Mix in together with the pasta, whichever type you like, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a drop of olive oil.
And, of course, all these meals are best accompanied by a bottle of San Polino wine.