HARVEST SEASON IN OLTREPO’ PAVESE WITH BERTE’-CORDINI
If you know me or have read most of my blog posts, you’ll know that my husband is a winemaker for his family winery, Cantine Montagna and Bertè-Cordini. The end of August and beginning of September mark the start of the wine harvest. Our small, peaceful, town in the hills is now rumbling with tractors and trucks full of grapes. It’s a busy and unpredictable time for us now and will continue like this until the second week of October.
The wine harvest is something all my friends always ask me about and want to witness. So, I’ve decided to take you on a virtual tour of the 2016 grape harvest showing how Bertè & Cordini transform their Pinot Noir grapes into their high-end, award-winning Cruasé.
CANTINE FRANCESCO MONTAGNA AND BERTE’-CORDINI*
In 1974, the Bertè-Cordini family took over one of Oltrepò Pavese’s most historical wineries: Cantine Francesco Montagna, founded in 1895. The Bertè-Cordini family members, Natale, Mariella and Antonio, began a new chapter in the company but decided to keep the original name as a tribute to the founder. As time went on, family members Luca, Marzia and Matteo joined the company applying their knowledge they acquired during their studies and work experience. The company carries out a detailed oenological process from the wine growing to the winemaking in order to bring out the best quality while staying true to the natural characteristic of the grape.
The family owns 15 hectares of vineyards located in the towns of Montù Beccaria and Zenevredo with some vineyards as old as 50 years. The main varietals grown are the local ones: Pinot Nero, Croatina, Ughetta, Uva Rara, Riesling and Moscato. International varietals are also grown here: Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bertè & Cordini have two product lines and also produce three versions of the Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico:
Cuvée Nero d’Oro – Blanc de noir made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes
Cuvée della Casa – Cuvée made of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay
WHAT IS CRUASE’?
Cruasé is a Pinot Noir Rosé Metodo Classico DOCG.
Say what? Let me explain.
‘Pinot Noir’ is the grape variety primarily used to make this wine. Rosé indicates the colour of the wine.
Before I explain what Metodo Classico is, let me break down sparkling wines for you.
There are different types of bubbly wines. Let’s separate them into two categories: lightly sparkling and sparkling. In Italian, frizzante and spumante.
Lightly sparkling wine (frizzante) has up to a maximum pressure of 2.5 bar. Sparkling wine (spumante) has a minimum of 3.0 bar and a maximum of 6.0 bar.
Sparkling wines can be separated into two categories based on the method used to make it sparkling:Martinotti/Charmat Method and Metodo Classico/Champenoise Method
I will explain in detail the difference between these two methods in the next part of this blog post. However, to get a general idea, Martinotti method takes less time, costs less money to produce and generally is of lower quality with respect to the Metodo Classico.
Lastly, what is DOCG? It is a wine designation that ensures the quality and geographic authenticity of the wine. There are three designations: IGT, DOC and DOCG. DOCG is the highest designation as wine producers must adhere to the most strict regulations in order to attain it.
Summing it up, Cruasé is a pink-coloured, Classical Method-made sparkling Pinot Noir and labelled with the highest designation for quality and geographic authenticity. Phew!
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO PICK THE GRAPES?
Before the harvest starts, samples of grapes are taken to be analyzed. Grapes are analyzed several times before the harvest date is decided. During the sampling, it’s important to collect grapes from all around the vineyard for a more accurate representation of the grape maturation. I say this because of personal experience:
In my first year in Italy, I wanted to participate in the harvest because it seemed like such a cool thing to tell my friends back in Canada. So, my husband invited to me to collect samples for his analysis. I had to collect 200 berries.
Let me just say that picking grapes is hard work. The hills are steep, it’s dusty, there are bees, there are mosquitos and boy, is it hot! Mosquitos loved my foreign blood and I was terrified of bees. You can imagine how much fun I was having. After huffing and puffing up and down the vineyards, I found some vines that were shaded by some trees. I had 100 more berries to pick. I decided to pick all the berries that were under the shade. Haha. I’m not sure how those results turned out for my husband but it was the first and last time I collected grapes for him.
So what gets analyzed? Brix, pH and TA. In layman’s terms, sugar and acidity. I’m not going to turn this into a chemistry lesson. Once the results show that the grapes are ready to be picked, the harvest starts.
To make Cruasè you need specific clones of Pinot Noir grapes. These Pinot Noir grapes are usually the first to be picked in the harvest.
At Bertè-Cordini the Pinot Noir grapes are hand picked. The main advantage to hand picking the grapes is that there is minimal to no damage done to the clusters nor the vine. The disadvantage is that it is expensive: a lot of people need to be hired on and it is a slow process compared to machine picking.
Each person has their own bucket to collect the clusters. Once they are full, they get transferred to a larger container. The large container, then, gets picked up by a tractor travelling in between the vines and transfers them to a big truck that will deliver them to the winery in Broni.
Check back soon for part 2 where I will cover what happens to the grapes when they get to the winery.
*description taken from the website