Saturday, September 26, 2009

Picking and stomping

26 Sett.
The 24th I finished picking all of our pecorino grapes and tying them on the wire cables to dry for 2 months to make a sweet passito type wine. Yesterday, the Bowlins, Raffaele, Jean Felice, Andrea and I picked 1/2 of the reds and started stomping. That is an experience everyone should have at least once and we plan to continue the "stomp', even after the winery is built.
The vendemmia (grape harvesting) was a tough job as the hill is steep and we don't have any attachment yet for the tractor to load the full cassettes of grapes onto. The temperature was perfect, however, and squashing grapes with a glass of last year's "Piedi Rossi" (red feet) in hand eases the pain and fatigue. As you can see, for the ladies, it pays to have burgundy nail polish for photo purposes.
We hope to make at least 300 liters again this year, if not a bit more, but as our tank is only big enough for 300, we have to find a place for any extra, maybe the old nemesis oak barrel from 2 years ago.
Next up is another special rotational plowing of all the rows and immediately thereafter, planting of the grass seed to cover all the interrow spaces and hopefully choke out the weeds.
Finally, for those in CO or passing through Boulder who like wine and beer, the Liquor Mart is a great place to shop for either and have had bargains for 30 years as my father once drove all the way to Boulder to pick up some 1st and 2nd growth bordeaux from them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old friends and fun tours

23 Settembre
My friends, the Bowlins are visiting and when our grape harvest and stomping got rained out Monday, we headed into the countryside to visit. We visited a cheese maker, a beer maker, a wine maker, Ascoli Piceno and the next day, a tour of the Sagrantino wine area with our host Brenda of Sagrantino wine excursions. The cheese producer is up in Belmonte Piceno and makes a fascinating variety of unpasteurized cow and goat cheeses. Several are legal for US purchasers, but all are quite tasty. We arrived just as the fresh ricotta was being displayed and you will never want industrial ricotta again after trying the warm ricotta. The beer maker is small, making just 8000 1/2 liter bottles a year with plans to increase production to 24000 bottles. They grow their own barley and buy their hops from Germany, making several fine brews, including Weiss, pils and rossa.
The wine maker Madonnabruna makes a really nice rosso piceno and I found them at Divino in Vino.
The wine tour started inauspiciously as the highway to Spello was closed down for 3 hours for a truck wreck, so our morning appointment was missed. We made the best of things, starting with a nice lunch with a wine tasting, then 2 winery visits + a visit to Montefalco, the seat of Sagrantino. This is a powerful red wine, best with wild game or powerful dishes of any sort. You should be able to find an example at any of the better wine stores.
Because of the late hour, we all decided to spend the night in Umbria and then I came back to nascondiglio and Steve and Cindy went on to Florence. They will return for the rain date of the harvest/stomp party Friday.
I have been fortunate enough to attend many of the classical music concerts associated with the Ascoli Piceno festival and they close up with a nice meal and concert at Meletti in Ascoli. This is one of the 50 "historic bars" of Italy and a must-see for anyone coming this way to visit.
The pictures are of some ruins near Belmonte Piceno, the beer and cheese makers, lunch on the wine tour and then a pic with the owner/winemaker at Fattoria Milziade Antano, a 3 glass winner and quite a passionate character! Brenda is our tour guide and is on the right. You can find her link here on this page up and to the right.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

cleaning your closet is dangerous!

16 September,
Just when you thought it was safe to clean your closet, I am here to give you better guidance. With the best of intentions, I spent this rainy day cleaning the office and then decided my closet should be next up. I redid every drawer and then checked out all my clothes and unfortunately, those shirts with "ring around the collar" were separated from their brethren for washing. Using the italian equivalent of Shout which is what I did after the load, I put them all in together, trusting soul that I am. You see, I am always bragging about the color fastness of our fabrics in the USA, unlike e.g., those from Spain which still bleed after 3 years of hand washing. No longer! I have changed my idea about our dye superiority.
I know, all you women are thinking: typical guy, mixing colors and whites (but at low temperature with the special dye retrieving sheet in with the load).
Enough with explanations and excuses. Here is the photo which shows my previously white shirts to the right and my previously white collar on the left, with perhaps its bigger part as the culprit.... not sure if it was that one or the custom shirt I bought from the TV news guy. Boh!
By the way, the picture doesn't do justice to the fact that the whites are now powderpuff blue!
Live and learn.

Classical music at Nascondiglio di Bacco, Ascoli Piceno Festival

16 September
We were delighted to host a little classical music concert with a quartet of wind instruments last night which followed another concert at our little church of San Filippo up the hill. We expected 35 people and had 55, I am sure. After a performance which included Schuber, Grieg, Mozart, Stamitz, Brahms and Strauss, we offered 2 salads, cured meats, a selection of cheeses and wines and ran out of everything except prosciutto (after everyone had eaten their fill).
It was a fun evening, but a but hectic.
Today, there is a nice little rain and as we could still use an inch or 2, it is welcome. I am trying to wait until Monday to harvest grapes when my friends Steve and Cindy will be here, so they can stomp the grapes into the future "piedi rossi". We found a loophole in the italian laws which will allow us to have friends help out at harvest time, which means logic has finally arrived.

Friday, September 11, 2009

sunsets, drought and 11 hours in a tractor

11 sept.
We have rain in the forecast every day for the next 2 weeks, so I ploughed (since i am closer to england now) the entire vineyard with 11 hours almost in the tractor yesterday. Makes one glad they invented hydrocortisone cream!
Unfortunately, the rain seems to be tracking south of us. The olives are in need of some acqua, not to mention all the other plants.
Having been up and down every row, I can say we have a nice crop of petit verdot and cabernet franc with lesser amounts of syrah, montepulciano, cab. sauv. and merlot. There isn't enough pecorino to talk about this year. Remember, the 2nd year is not one of major production, so we hope to make another hobby wine this year and maybe a passito.
The temperature is now very pleasant, although jumping in the pool is now a bit more bracing.
Our neighbor has harvested his pecorino and in the area, the farmers are doing likewise. Our target date is about the 20 of September when my friends, the Bowlins will be here visiting.
Mid October should be olive harvest time and rain would be really nice to have a couple of weeks or a month before to plump up the poor, dried olives 1st.
Divino in Vino is our Offida wine festival and I went to a tasting of older sangiovese and nebbiolo. It was a very nice degustation and I particularly like the barbaresco and an old sangiovese from 1997 from San Savino.
It has not been a good year for sunsets, but we finally got one the other night. Enjoy.

Friday, September 04, 2009

1st view of the architect's plan for our winery

4 September
Here are our 1st draft plans for the winery. We have already made changes, but the final product will be somewhat similar. The offices, tasting room and drop-off for the grapes will be above and the working part will be underground. The 2 big windows will be viewing the valley and hills to our southeast. We have cut out the window on the left as that part can be under an overhang roof instead of walled in. This will be the unloading point for the harvested grapes which will be destemmed above and pressed and then gravity fed into the fermenting tanks. The tasting area will be behind the window on the left and a fairly large outside seating area is under an awning to its left.
We emptied out again today, but Raffaele in his infinite wisdom accepted a bachelorette party for tonight. After my mistake booking the bachelor party, I may be heading to Offida to escape.
Tonight in our little hometown is Divino Vino, an annual festival of local wineries and food products. There are free and fee tastings and it is a good chance to mingle with the local vintners.
We are hoping for rain tomorrow; everyone cross their fingers as the olives and vines need a drink!
PS. these are the updated architectural plans. south is below with a terrace for a picnic or tasting. the window looks out over the vineyard. the grapes arrive opposite the terrace where the crushing and destemming will take place. we took out one large window and uncovered the arrival area for the grapes.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Some of our favorite restaurants: Don Diego and Beccofino

2 September
I can't believe the summer is almost over. The tourists have all gone home here and we went from full to empty in 48 hours. We have rooms available the rest of the year for anyone needing a quiet vacation. The weather here is still hovering around the 32 degree mark (C) and no rain in sight. After the problem with our sensitive olives with the fly infestation, we have treated the other olives with some sort of biological repellant and hopefully we can save the frantoio and lechino olives for another month prior to the harvest.
Yesterday we bottled the 2008 montepulciano and it seems to be better than the 2007 as it didn't have a chance to be ruined by the faulty refurbished oak barrel. It has rested for 11 months in stainless steel only and is a tannic bomb. We made nearly 280 liters, so come on over and try some.
We were visited by my old friend Claudia and her beau Janek and we all went to Don Diego where my friend Pepe holds court at his wonderful seafood restaurant. It has a California surfer theme and is a place where you can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas for the beach and then eat like a king. After 6 plates of fresh fish and shellfish antipasti, both crude and cooked, we had just enough room to share a small plate of mixed fried fish before arriving at satiety.
Sunday involved a road trip to Norcia for an "end of season" celebratory lunch at Beccofino with another of our friends Andrea. He treated us to a number of treats, most topped with black truffles and a dessert medley which raised my cholesterol another 50 points, I am sure.
Here at Nascondiglio, it is a time to prune the new vineyard vines to one trunk, prepare the soil for grass seed in October and clean.
I am looking forward to visits from some KC folks later this month!
The fotos show a bit of the new displays of stuffed wild boar in Norcia, Beccofino, my friends in Don Diego and a couple of the dishes like farro and dessert at Beccofino.