Bad weather has hit Italy over the past few days, including Montalcino. In this photo, you can see that nearby Mount Amiata got hit heavily with snow.
Here in S. Angelo, however, the weather was not so bad; we had rain and just a little bit of snow. This photo shows the snow that fell Monday night between S.Angelo and Montalcino.
Luckily the temperatures have descended below 0 here, which is very important because in 2014 Montalcino had insect problems due to the mild winter and the rainy summer, causing damage to the harvest. It does mean we will have to bundle, though. This time of year we work in the field, pruning vines and olive trees to make sure that we are ready for spring.
Today the sun has finally come back and the forecast for the next few days is predicting much nicer weather.
Checking our weather control unit, we saw that from November 10 until today we had approximately 2 and a half inches of rain. Not too bad. The Orcia River, which flows through the lower part of our property, has swelled with all the excess water, but hasn’t created any problems.
In the meantime, in the cellar we are still racking off the new 2014 wines following malolactic fermentation.
As you can see from the photo the color is intense.
Already the wine is structured and full-bodied on the palate.
Fall is coming to Montalcino. Over the past few days we have continued to have sunny weather, though temperatures are starting to drop, as always happens this time of year, with lows around 40°F and highs around 60°F.
This time of year, many wineries begin to fertilize their vineyards. We have always been very concerned with fertilizing our vineyards; we do not use any synthetic fertilizers, even nitrogen-based ones, but we do use pelleted manure to infuse the soil with organic substances. We also sow some leguminous plants, and specifically field beans, favino in Italian.
As favino roots burrow into the soil and develop, they create sacs to store the nitrogen coming from the air. This way, the nitrogen comes directly from nature without the need for added fertilizer. To make high quality wines we do not need large quantities of grapes, which more intense fertilizer could create; on the contrary, we need only a small amount. This is why we do not want to use nitrogen-based fertilizers which, if applied in excess, could also pollute the aquifer.
Autumn has arrived in Montalcino, which means that it is time to enjoy castagne, or chestnuts. From our property, we can see Mount Amiata, where there are a lot of chestnut trees. Many families come here to collect chestnuts to prepare their own family dishes.
In the spirit of the season, we prepare a very popular dish made from chestnut flour. It is a cake called “Castagnaccio" and it is pretty easy to prepare.
This recipe calls for just a few ingredients:
• 3 ½ cups of chestnut flour • 2 ½ cups of water • ½ cup of raisins • 1 cups of walnuts • 1 ½ cups of pine nuts • A bit of rosemary to garnish • A pinch of salt • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
To start, put the raisins in a bowl with some cold water to rehydrate them, then cut the walnuts into smaller pieces and peel off the rosemary. Put the chestnut flour in a bowl and slowly add water while blending with a whisk. Once you have a uniform mixture, add walnuts, pine nuts and the raisins (removed from the water, squeezed and dried). Set aside a small amount of nuts and raisins to use at the end for garnishes. Add the salt and mix. At this point, oil a baking tray. The size of the pan will depend on whether you would like your cake to be thicker and softer or crispier. Small pans yield thick, soft cakes, while large pans yield thinner, crispier cakes. Pour the mixture in the pan. Next, add a little bit of olive oil and garnish with the remaining walnuts, pine nuts, raisins and rosemary. Bake at 365°F for 20 minutes until the top of the cake is crisp and the dried fruits have turned a darker color.
A perfect pairing for this cake would be the Il Poggione Vin Santo. Salute!!!