This is November at Ca di Pesa— a sparkling day of sun, blue sky and birdsong. And a beehive of winemaking activity. 2015 is proving to be a spectacular year for wine and olive oil. The best since 2011 or 2001, depending on who you ask.
Until the 1960s, grapes were pressed by foot to ‘far schiaciatta’ or smash them. Should you be in Italy during the fall, be sure and stop into a pasticciera for ‘schiaciatta.’ It is a sweet, foccaccia-like pastry, with smashed grapes and seeds literally baked into the dough . You can sometimes find fig schiaciatta as well. Go in the morning. It sells briskly whenever it is offered.
It’s been nearly four weeks since the grapes were picked and the actual wine-making is at hand, consuming every day. The operation at Ca di Pesa is intimate, personal and done entirely by hand. Assisted by a team of three, Diego (a professional wine-maker) stands among the necessary goverment-regulated equipment monitoring conditions and quality standards.
Ca di Pesa’s winemaker Diego is really a chef – literally making wine. His instincts, his experience, his tastebuds make a world of difference. And like all chefs, Diego adds his own unique touches. When the wine is being moved from an ‘orcio,’ the big terracotta pots used for aging at Ca di Pesa, Diego throws a piece of wood under the flow of the wine to aerate it. ‘My special touch,’ he says. Some tanks are outside until December (but no later, since the weather turns too cold) and some are moved immediately into the cantina– it all depends Diego and nature.
Once the grapes are pressed and fermented for aging, the tasting and deciding begins. What has the potential to be Riserva? Which Chianti Classico? What grapes to blend? In what proportion? Then the Ca di Pesa grapes are pressed again, but not intensively or with the aid of chemicals as in industrial wine production. The young wine is drained off, moved to different tanks for more maturing. Air in a tank will destroy the wine so the lids are designed to seal wherever the wine tops off.
A couple of weeks from now, the owner will be visiting to check the quality of the new wine. There will be more swirling, sniffing and thoughtful decisions. And then more waiting. A year for Chianti in stainless steel barrels, three years in French oak barriques for the Riserva. Then the anticipation builds.
Spreading across the Conca d’Oro, some of Chianti’s most precious vine-growing hillsides, the Ca di Pesa vineyard is set to produce 1000 bottles of Riserva or IGTof Chianti Classico for 2016.