At the Tenuta Il Poggione, owned by the Franceschi Family, very year is renewed the ritual of opening the "caratelli" (specially shaped barrels) of Vin Santo. This year was the time of the 2003 harvest.
The origins of the Vin Santo are lost in the night of all times, between legend and reality.
Every year, at the end of september, the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes are harvested. The bunches that are the least dense and the most ripe are placed to dry on straw mats.
After a soft pressing, the must begins its slow and very long natural alcoholic fermentation with the help of the "mother", a special indigenous yeast that has formed itself in the years by the autoselection of the cells of yeasts of which it is composed and which remains always on the bottom of the caratello after every emptying.
On this "mother" is place the new must to ferment, taking the heat and the cold of the seasons which allow it to mature without the hand of man intervening in any way.
A long aging that has begun in january 2004 and has lasted until january 2012, consuming 70% of the initial liquid placed to age in the small caratelli.
Today, our workers have laid out on the mats the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes that they picked today to dry them with the scope of producing our Vin Santo.
The drying takes place in the "Vinsantaia", a very well aerated place where this process takes place in a natural way.
After the drying, the grapes will be submitted to gently pressing and the must will be transferred to the inside of "caratelli", the special casks for the production of the Vin Santo, for a long and slow fermentation on the mother yeast, who, simultaneously with the aging, will endure for many years and will give the Vin Santo its characteristic aroma.
As Dr. Jeremy observes, the proper name of the Tuscan Vin Santo is "Vin Santo" and the proper name of the Greek wine is the "Vinsanto" written all attached. If no one is sure where the name of the Vin Santo Toscano comes from, Jeremy has shown that the name of the wine of the Greece is derived from the fact that the Greek wine is made on the island of Santorini where it came to be called the Vinsanto for the abbreviation of Santorini, which is an Italian toponym for the island.
Both wines are "vini passiti" or "dried grape wines" but there are major differences between the two wines.
The grape for Greek Vinsanto is dried outside in the open air. The grape for the Vin Santo Toscano is dried indoors in the Vinsantaio special attic for the making of this unique wine.
It does not take as long to dry the grape for the Greek Vinsanto. It takes months to dry the grapes for the Vin Santo Toscano.
But there is also the more important difference regarding the wines. The grape for the Vinsanto of the Greece is dried and then made into the wine with one fermentation.
The grape for the Vin Santo Toscano is dried for a long time and then it is made into the wine. But then it is placed to age in the vinsantaio where the cold weather will stop the fermentation. Then the fermentation will begin again in the spring with the arrival of the warmer temperatures. This process will continue until the wine stabilizes itself.
Vin Santo is a very special and unique wine for the "Toscani", "the Tuscan peoples" and even though some people like to have the wine with the famous "cantucci" of our land, we think better to have the Vin Santo Toscano when it has aged with cheeses and Tuscan honey.
Yesterday, I posted my father's notes on the Trebbiano and Malvasia that we picked yesterday and that will be used to make our Vin Santo.
After the grapes are picked, they are situated on these mats made out of reeds.
Then the workers hang the mats as in this photo and the grapes will dry in the "vinsantaia" until December. Note how the windows in the vinsantaia will provide natural aeration for the "appassimento" or "drying" of the grapes.
Here's a video of the grapes being situated on the mats.
Once the grapes have made their "appassimento", in other words, when they have dried properly, they will be vinified and the wine will be aged in "caratelli", small barrels used for the production of Vin Santo.
Here are the caratelli from the 2007 vintage for the Vin Santo of Il Poggione.
Here are notes of my father about the harvest of Trebbiano and Malvasia for Vin Santo. Tomorrow I will post more photos and a YouTube video but now we are all very tired from harvesting!
Today, we have harvested the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes
to make the Vin Santo. We have waited the most possible, because of the dry
progression of the season, so that the grapes would ripen even more on the
vine. Our workers have harvested the healthy and most ripe grape bunches. They
were placed in crates and transported by truck to the vinsantaia. The grapes
were placed on reed mats where they will remain to dry at least until the
beginning of December.