winemaking

[Our] Red Vinification: Harvesting

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After talking about grapesin general, let's move on to the important topic of harvesting: how does the harvest of your red grapes take place? Do you use machinery, or do you opt for the manual method?

Just as for white grapes, the harvesting of red grapes here at Tenute d’Italia is also strictly manual. It is true that mechanized harvesting allows operations to be carried out faster, limiting the risks of delay in the event of sudden bad weather and thus respecting the perfect moment of fruit ripening in a more precise way, but in our opinion, manual harvesting remains absolutely the best choice. Thanks to the experience of our team of harvesters we are in fact able to make an important selection at the time of harvest, bringing to the cellars – thus starting the vinification - only the best grapes, perfectly ripened and without defect.

And after that?

As soon as the grapes are harvested, they are loaded onto special wagons and transported to the winery, where theybegin the vinification process.

So far, the procedure is exactly the same as that followed for white grapes. At what point do the two processing techniques differ?

First of all, in our specific case, while it is possible to use the terms "procedure used for white (or red) grapes" and "white (or red) vinification" as perfect synonyms, we must remember that this equation doesn’t always hold true, since the two winemaking techniques can be applied to any type of grape, regardless of colour.

Having established this necessary premise, the crossroads that distinguish the two procedures is met precisely when the grapes arrive at the winery. The white grapes, as you will remember, are placed in the press, while a different tool is used for the black grapes, the so-called crusher-destemmer.This machinery separates the stalks - therefore the green part of the bunch - from the berries, which are then pressed to release the must.

So the press is not used in red wine making?

Yes, it is used, but only at a later stage. After passing through the crusher-de-stemmer, all the product obtained - composed then of must and marc - is transferred to special tanks in which maceration and alcoholic fermentation take place.

[Our] Red Vinification: Maceration

Ivan, can you explain to us what maceration consists of and why it is so important in the context of red vinification?

Let's say that in the maceration process lies the true sense of red wine production! In fact, it consists in letting the marc (the skins of the grapes) remain in contact with the must (the juice extracted from the berries) so as to allow the extraction, then the transfer from the first to the second, of the aromatic substances and especially the colourants. In other words, this procedure causes the must - therefore the wine - to absorb the colour and become… red!

What are these colourants you talk about?

They are called anthocyanins: they are the chemical compounds naturally present in the skin of red and purple fruit, and therefore not only of grapes. Without going into too much technical detail, let's say that there are different types - that result in different shades of red - and they are present in different concentrations depending on the variety.

These two variables, obviously also conditioned by cultivation techniques, the harvest time and the specific pedo-climatic conditions of each plot, determine the possibility of obtaining a greater or lesser coloration of our must.

Could you give us an example?

The two native varieties that we mentioned at the beginning, the Ancellotta and the Malbo Gentile, are both characterized by a great colouring power, which makes them excellent blending grapes: in addition to the very pleasant aromatic complement, they are in fact able to perfect the appearance of the wine, giving wonderful violet hues to the blends in which they are placed.

It is no coincidence that both are often used as a complement to Sangiovese, a variety which, on the contrary, produce wines with a decidedly less purple and intense colour.

[Our] Red Vinification: The Grapes - part 1

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We are back in the company of production manager Ivan Lentini to continue our journey to discover the main winemaking techniques used at the Tenute d’Italia winery. After having discovered the main steps that make up the so-called white vinification procedure, here we are again, ready to review the red vinification procedure.

Hi Ivan! Nice to see you again. Let's begin our story starting, as usual, from the raw material, that is, from the grapes. What are the varieties grown in your vineyards, that is, those processed in your cellars?

Hi everyone. First of all I want to say that it is a pleasure to continue this interview: I hope that the readers have enjoyed the first part of our journey, and that they have been able to discover some interesting details about winemaking. In fact, I believe that this topic is really important for a full appreciation of the finished wine, and thus enriching one's experience as a consumer. On this premise, we come to our new topic: in the vineyards of Tenute d’Italia, red grapes undoubtedly represent the greater percentage of our crop, and we have several varieties.

The first we should mention is certainly Sangiovese: this is in fact the most typical grape variety of our territory, and one which, like most of the Romagna producers, we are particularly fond of!

Alongside Sangiovese there are also some international vines, which can also boast a great tradition in Romagna: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Barbera.

To complete the review we must add Malbo Gentile and Ancellotta: these are also two native varieties, therefore typical of our areas, which due to their characteristics are mainly used as blending grapes: this means that they are not used to produce wines in purity (that is, produced 100% with these varieties) but rather, they contribute to the production of others. This happens through the assemblage carried out either at the actual start of the winemaking process, adding these grapes to those of other varieties - this mainly happens with the Ancellotta - or by producing a wine that will later be used to cut other batches - as is the case with Malbo Gentile.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT INSTALMENT]

[Our] Red Vinification: The Grapes - part 2

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[READ THE PREVIOUS [Our] Red Vinification: the Grapes - part 1]

Speaking of white grapeswe specified that they are the first to be gathered in the harvest, and we also gave a rough idea of the order in which they reach maturity. Can we do the same for black grapes too?

Well, we can certainly say that, in principle, black grapes are harvested after the white ones. With regard to our own vineyards, Syrah is usually the first to be harvested, followed by Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Normally it is Barbera that closes the operation.

As we have said several times though, this order is subject to numerous variables.

The first, and most important, factor is certainly the wine we intend to make from a specific batch of grapes: some of our products, such as Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicone I.G.P. “Potente”and the Merlot Rubicone I.G.P. "Sintria" are in fact produced with late harvest grapes, thus slightly extending their stay on the plant to obtain higher sugar concentrations.

Having said that, we must take into consideration the specific characteristics of each plot, which can favour a more or less rapid ripening process, as well as the atmospheric conditions!

So, let's say then that, if it was quite simple to outline an order for white grapes, for black grapes it is decidedly more complex!

[Our] White Vinification: Harvesting - part 1

We have already had the opportunity to introduce the theme of the colour of wine, recognising its origin in a real choice that the producer makes in the very first stages of winemaking. After our brief introduction, in which we introduced the concepts of white and red vinification, we will now begin to go into the details of each of them, illustrating the different stages of development and the specific characteristics.

To do this we will have the pleasure of benefitting from the collaboration of the production manager of Tenute d'Italia, Mr. Ivan Lentini, who will accompany us on a journey to discover how wine is made: starting from the story of his work in our cellars in Linaro.

Hi Ivan! First of all, thank you for your willingness to help us get a deeper understanding of the great topic of wine production. We have already had the opportunity to mention to our readers the two main wine-making techniques, white and red vinification. Now we hope you will be able to tell us all the details. Where do we start?

Hello everyone! I would like to start by saying that the theme we are about to deal with is really very broad, and in addition to the general distinction between the production of white or red wine, it is always necessary to specify that each particular production follows a precise, absolutely singular logic, which depends precisely on the product that you intend to produce. This means not only reserving specific stratagems for each variety of grape, but also applying different stratagems for the different lots of the same type of grape that we want to allocate to different products.

Could you give us an example?

Of course! Think of Pignoletto: in 2019 we decided that we would make a sparkling version, and this led to harvesting the grapes slightly earlier than normal, before the fruits had fully ripened. In this way, we ensured not only a greater finesse of the aromas, but also a better acidity of the must and a lower alcohol content, due to the lower presence of sugars in the grapes. Since two fermentations are required for a sparkling wine (the alcoholic fermentation and the re-fermentation which gives the effervescence) an alcoholic degree that starts off too high could in fact have significantly compromised the pleasantness of the finished wine.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT INSTALMENT]

[Our] White Vinification: Harvesting - part 2

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE - [Our] White Vinification: Harvesting - part 1]

As we have already named the Pignoletto, we could start right away with the theme of white vinification! What are the other grapes which you use this technique for?

Having read the previous article, I immediately want to clarify that in Tenute d’Italia we apply the equation: white grapes/white vinification and red grapes/red vinification. We are evaluating the possibility of testing the maceration technique for the Albana, but for now it’s only a project.

As for white grapes, there are three types in our vineyards: the Pignoletto, the Trebbiano and the Albana. Let's say that they are perhaps the three most typical varieties of our territory, capable of giving wines of great quality but also of great character.

With regard to the Pignoletto, you mentioned a harvesting that is earlier than normal. Usually, what period are we talking about?

Pignoletto is usually the first variety to be harvested, not only for our production needs but also for the specific characteristics of the plant. In fact, there are varieties that ripen earlier, and others that need more time to mature. Let's say that the harvest of the Pignoletto can begin as early as the last weeks of August, followed closely by the Albana. Trebbiano is the last white variety we gather.

Obviously, this is a rough outline: each harvest is a unique and unrepeatable adventure, marked mainly by the climatic trend of the entire vintage.In addition, another detail not to be overlooked, the timing of the collection must also take into account the position of the vineyards: the fruit ripening process varies significantly depending on exposure, altitude and the type of soil on which the plants are born, sowe always need to take into consideration the differences between the lowland vineyards and hills.

How does the harvest take place?Do you use specific machinery for the grape harvest?

No. At Tenute d'Italia we only carry out manual harvesting: it is certainly less rapid than the mechanical method, but it allows us to make a better selection of the fruits, discarding the bunches that are not perfectly ripe or that have imperfections and, above all, it is much less invasive, less traumatic for the grapes. The bunches are placed in small crates and then loaded onto a cart, on which they are transported to the cellars, where the real wine-making process begins.

[Our] White Vinification: Pressing - part 1

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE: Harvesting part 1 / part 2]

Let's continue our chat with the production manager Ivan Lentini on the white vinification process as performed at Tenute d’Italia. To read the first part of the interview click here!

What happens when the grapes arrive at the winery?

The bunches of grapes are immediately loaded into the press, i.e. a cylindrical machine equipped inside with an air chamber whose increase and decrease in pressure can be controlled: when the grapes are placed inside the press and this chamber is swollen the berries are crushed against the walls to let out the juice (the must): the presence of a grilled wall allows the must to come out perfectly separated from the marc, or pomace.

How big is a press?

The press is a machine available in different formats: ours allows us to load about 30 quintals (3000 kgs) of grapes.

Is it preferable to work at maximum load or with smaller quantities?

Let's start by saying that if the harvest is a traumatic moment for the grapes, the moment of pressing undoubtedly represents the peak of the stress to which we subject the fruit. So the general rule when it comes to wine is that we should always minimize the trauma which our product undergoes at every stage of its processing: during the pressing cycle, the chamber in which the grapes are introduced rotates on itself (to facilitate the distribution of the grapes inside) therefore the fewer grapes we introduce, the greater the possibility of their being knocked about inside the press, causing an uncontrolled crushing of the berries.

Our goal is to preserve the integrity of the wine grape with a full load, so that we can have maximum control of the pressing.

[TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT INSTALMENT]

[Our] White Vinification: Pressing - part 2

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE: [Our] White Vinification: Pressing - part 1]

Do you also adopt other measures?

For some years we have adopted a veritable pressing protocol that allows for the complete abandonment of the so-called pre-set loading programs to adopt customised programs, designed for our specific needs. To give you an idea of the improvement, we went from about 30 rotations for each load to a current average of 3. In the same way, even for the subsequent phases of the actual pressing, our machinery is set up to work according to a precise sequence developed by our technicians and consultants.

What does it consist of?

The white wines of Tenute d'Italia are treated with a procedure inspired by that of the great French white wines: we work in gradual increments, that is, we set a first pressing pressure which will be kept constant until the flow of must exiting the press has ended.

At that point, without deflating the chamber, we increase the pressure to get a new flow, and so on for a maximum of two more sessions. In this way we obtain the so-called free-run juice, absolutely the most precious must and the one that will be used to produce the most valuable wines, such as Pignoletto DOC Spumante Santerno Wines.

Is that the end of the pressing phase?

Absolutely not. From this first phase we obtain the absolute finest must (the free-run juice), but the process can continue. The procedure is simply repeated by applying higher pressures, obtaining the so-called second pressing, which is still quite precious and with great aromatic potential.If you want to completely exhaust the extraction potential of our grapes, you can finally proceed with a third and final cycle, the so-called third pressing (or torchiatura), whose quality level will however be significantly lower than the other two lots of must. Though, in certain cases, it is in fact possible to allow for the blending of the free-run juice and the must from the second pressing, the must produced by the third pressing will always be kept separate, to process it independently.

[Our] White Vinification: Refining and Monitoring

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE: [Our] White Vinification: the Fermentation part 1/part 2]

Laboratory tests confirm that fermentation has ended. How do we proceed at this point?

At this point we generally proceed with a sulphurisation of the must, or the addition of potassium metabisulphite.

But why sulphurise the must if the sugars have run out? Shouldn't it stop automatically?

Well, this question is obviously valid if we are talking about a dry wine. If we wanted to keep some sugary residue in our wine, it is clear that the interruption of fermentation must be imposed, since the yeasts would still have sugars present that would feed them and enable them to continue their work.

Even in the case of dry wines though, we operate this procedure for two essential reasons: first of all, it should be remembered that the dry type does not designate a wine in which there is a total absence of sugar. A minimum residue will always be present, which brings us back to the observation made above. In addition to this, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that any microbiological activity is stopped, to prevent the risk of uncontrolled bacterial fermentations.

For this reason, right at the end of fermentation, it is our habit to proceed with a second clarification precisely to eliminate a substantial part of the residual yeasts and prevent the possibility of spontaneous refermentation.

Is our wine ready at this point?

Not exactly. We can definitely say that we have completed the transformation of our must into wine, even at the regulatory level, but the work is far from finished. After fermentation, in fact, the aging process begins, which will be longer or shorter depending on the type of wine we want to produce. Some white wines, for example, are aged in wood, but even those that are not subjected to this procedure need to spend a few more months in the tank to refine and stabilise themselves.

So even your control activities are still not over...

Absolutely not. The monitoring of our wines is a constant activity throughout their lives, right up to bottling... and beyond! For each batch of bottled wine, we keep numerous samples which we use to continue to monitor the evolution of the bottled wine, even after years.

[Our] White Vinification: the Fermentation - part 1

[READ THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE - [Our] White Vinification: the Must]

So the yeasts are inoculated into the must and start the alcoholic fermentation which will transform the must into wine.

Yes, but not only that. In order for the yeast to work best we need to make sure we keep it strong. In this sense, a yeast behaves just like us human beings: to give of its best it needs to be nourished. The more precise the management of this nourishment, the greater the health of the organism. So during the entire fermentation process we will take care to check the condition of our yeasts, supplying them with specific nutrients - all absolutely natural - to maintain their high performance, both at a quantitative level - in terms of work rate - and qualitative, guaranteeing the optimal development of the aromatic qualities of our wine.

Your supervision, then, must remain pretty constant throughout the fermentation.

Definitely! Controlling the progress of fermentation is crucial to guaranteeing the quality of the final product: the process can in fact be neither too fast nor too slow. In the first case there is a risk of a real stress of our yeasts, which, working at too high a rate, can run out of nutrients and, consequently, develop unpleasant aromas in the must, such as the hint of rotten egg. If, on the contrary, fermentation is too slow, there is an equally serious risk of blocking the fermentation, which would cause a significant loss of aromatic components and would require a second inoculation of yeasts, a practice that is generally always discouraged.

But how is it possible to effect this type of control?

Nature once again provides us with the most precious tool: by controlling the temperature at which fermentation takes place, we are able to manage and regulate this delicate process. Usually for a white we work between 10°C and 15°C, always depending on the specific type of wine we want to obtain.

 [TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT INSTALMENT]

[Our] White Vinification: the Fermentation - part 2

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[READ THE PREVIOUS [Our] White Vinification: the Fermentation - part 1]

Let's go back to our cellars to learn the principal steps in the production of white wines from Tenute d’Italia getting a close-up view from Ivan Lentini, head of production, with whom today we will expand the topic of fermentation.

How long does the fermentation of a white wine last?

Usually for a white wine we carry out fermentations of 10-15 days. Once again, the fundamental distinction is the type of wine we want to obtain, but also the variety of processed grapes. Each variety is in fact capable of developing a greater or lesser quantity of sugars, which translates in a perfectly proportional way to its potential to develop alcohol content.

How is the end of fermentation determined?

The progress of fermentation is controlled by means of a simple instrument, that we call a bomé, which measures the quantity of residual sugar in a must. This measurement is taken every day, even several times a day, until the desired level is reached. If we want to produce a dry wine, for example, this level will be close to zero.

Does this figure tell us that fermentation is over?

Not exactly. Measurement with the bomé is an indication that we need in order to monitor the progress of fermentation. The data on which we base the actual programming of each processing step is provided to us by the analyses of our laboratory, from which we obtain absolutely precise data.

[Our] White Vinification: the Must

In the previous episodes we talked about the harvest and the first processing stages of our white grapes. We continue the story of the white vinification process as performed at the Tenute d 'Italia winery in the company of the production manager Ivan Lentini.

Hi Ivan, good to see you again! During our last meeting we examined the pressing process, until the must was obtained. Having arrived at this point, how do we proceed?

We can say that we are now entering the heart of the winemaking process, getting closer and closer to what will eventually be our finished product.The first operation that is performed after the pressing is the transfer of the must into our tanks to proceed with the first clarification.

This operation can be performed in different ways, but an absolute constant of our processing protocol is to reduce the temperature of the must: this simple trick allows us not only to avoid the start of a spontaneous fermentation, but also has the power to preserve the aromas and above all to facilitate the precipitation of the solid parts (lees), promoting clarification in an absolutely natural and minimally invasive way.

Always staying faithful to the principle of minimal intervention on our raw material, we try to exploit the power of Nature to avoid, as much as possible, mechanical operations or the use ofadjuvants.

How long does this process last?

The must remains in the clarification process from 24 to 28 hours, always depending on the type of wine we want to produce. As a general rule, we can say that the more body you intend to give to the finished product, the longer the process, this to make the most of the aromatic contribution of the lees right from the start.

What happens after the clarification?

At the end of this first clarification we are ready to start fermentation. First we carry out a further transfer of the must to make a first separation of the lees (racking); then we proceed to one of the most complex and delicate operations, namely the inoculation of yeasts.

Why is it so complex?

We must remember that our must has undergone significant cooling, so at this time of the process it is at a cure temperature of 8°C / 9°C. The initial mass of yeasts that is prepared for the inoculation (the so-called mother-yeast) has instead a temperature of 37°C, optimal for the multiplication of these extraordinary, but very delicate, micro-organisms. To avoid that the yeasts undergo a literally fatal thermal shock, it will therefore be necessary to acclimatise our mother-yeast by progressively decreasing its temperature according to a precise pattern: 4°C every 20 minutes.

This is possible by taking small quantities of must from the tank to add them to the mother-yeast, and it is an operation that requires several hours during which the level of attention must remain very high! At the end of the procedure, the mass of yeasts will have increased their volume almost tenfold, adjusted their temperature, but will also have developed sufficiently to take prevalence over any other indigenous yeast inside our must.

The Colour of the Wine

One of the main elements of visual analysis is the definition - and description - of the colour: it is certainly one of the fundamental characteristics of the wine, so much so that the most common classification of this product is based on it (white, red and rosé).

But where does the color of a wine come from? This question allows us to start our journey to discover the fascinating process of creating wine. In addressing the theme of winemaking we won’t limit ourselves to illustrating the various technical steps that allow the transformation of grapes into wine. Rather, we will try to highlight the importance that the choices of the producer have, at every single stage, with regard to the characteristics and the personality of the final product.

That brings us to our first topic, namely the difference that underlies the main characteristic of a wine: the colour.

The answer seems obvious: from white grapes we get white wine , and from red grapes, red wine.

What about rose wines? The idea that they are created by mixing the other two is resolutely denied. In any case, this is permitted only in extremely rare cases, and even then only at the level of the musts, so in a pre-fermentative phase. However, their particularity may not be enough to question the efficacy of our equation.

When some friends visited our company, walking through the vineyards we showed them the bunches of grapes soon to be harvested to produce the new vintages of the wines we had just tasted. Almost by chance we asked them a question that roused great wonder: have you noticed that, if you crush a red grape, the must that comes out is clear?

The relationship between the colour of the grape and that of the wine, therefore, exists, and it is equally true that it resides (literally!) in the skin of the grapes: however, this correlation is not automatic, but derives from a straight forward production choice.

In other words, the colour of the wine is defined by the vinification technique adopted: the so-called white vinification involves the immediate separation of the skins from the must; whilst the vinification of red wines requires that we take advantageof the colouring power of the pomace (the term used to define what remains of the grape once its pulp has been extracted).

In the first case, the colour of the wine will be determined by the type and concentration of the pigments present in the grape pulp only, but in general it will be possible to obtain white musts (and, therefore, white wines), characterized by pale hues (straw yellow).

The red vinification process exploits the maceration technique, specifically the longer or shorter periods of contact between the must and the pomace, to extract the colour from the skins. In this case, the decisive determining factor is not only the concentration of the colouring substances in the grape used. It also depends on the duration of the procedure (which can vary from a few days to more than a month) and the temperature at which it is effected. 

In fact, it’s sufficient to consider the simple preparation of a cup of tea to understand how much the heat can favour (and accelerate) the process of transferring colour and aroma into a liquid. 

So is there an unequivocal correlation between the colour of the grape and the type of vinification?Absolutely not! The definition used to distinguish the two methods (white vinification and red vinification) could actually be misleading. Actually, either method can be applied to any type of wine depending on the type of wine you want to obtain.

Think for example of the increasingly widespread tendency to macerate for white wines too, to enrich both their colouration and their aromatic properties. Conversely, with Pinot Noir, for example, the white vinification method is used for the production of numerous types of spumante wines.

There is a really interesting phrase that sums up precisely this type of product and is absolutely perfect for our topic: blanc de noirs (literally “white from black”).

This is precisely how the sparkling wines obtained exclusively from black berried grapes (usually Pinot Noir) are defined. Produced, as they are, with white vinification.

To complete the argument, we must point out that the phrase blanc de blancs will, on the contrary, indicate the use of only white grapes.In fact, both phrases mark a particular interpretation of what we might call the most classic sparkling wine recipe (more precisely that of Champagne) which involves the use of both types of grape.

We will tell you about...our Harvest!

There is only a little more than a month to go before the harvest begins, and to pay homage to this truly magical moment, around which all our work literally revolves, we are working on a very special project, created together with our technicians to bring you (virtually) into our cellars to observe first-hand how the wine is produced.

Better: we’re going to tell you all about the work that we do, or rather the particular techniques and processes that are carried out specifically by our staff for the production of wines from the Tenute d'Italia catalogue.

Our story will be articulated by revealing each phase of the two main winemaking techniques, the white and the redvinifications, through the direct testimony of our technicians.

You can start making your contributions right now to enrich our interviews by sending us your questions and telling us your curiosities through our social channels or by email.

Tenute D'Italia is a trade mark of Morini s.r.l.
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Tel +39 0542 641194 - Imola (BO) Italy