October 24, 2018

After the sweltering summer of 2017, we welcomed the cooler, more even temperatures of 2018 in the valley. As we neared the end of August, we were looking at larger than usual clusters, not too sweet for the period, and unusually soft in their early fruit. Because of these cooler temperatures, the vineyards were able to ripen the fruit and tannins earlier; all of that is usually kept back because of heat in August. The skins, thin as they were, were incredibly forward in color – they stained the fingers! Usually, that happens in mid-October. Mysterious for now, fascinating. This vintage will be an original one.

With autumn around the corner, cool, damp weather entered the valley, and the moon’s rising sped things up. Already in mid-September, on the 14th, we began the harvest of our semillon, picking just enough for 2,000 bottles. These we pressed whole-cluster and were impressed by the lean, strong gusto in the juice. After fermenting, the wine will stay on its lees in glass damigiane for a year and then go to bottle for 8 months before we release it, the second vintage of our Bianco di Trinoro.

In the last days of summer, we were dizzy with the silver of the new moon. From the 21st, there was a sudden density in the merlot: the astronomy signaling. The grapes were showing dark and soft, and we began bringing in twenty tons of merlot a day. The juice was low in alcohol, high in acidity, rich in taste – complex merlots, reminding one of Saint-Emilion. We started earlier than ever, with two large final ripe pickings finishing on the 23rd. Then, suddenly, the winds came whipping through the valley and it turned cold with the new moon on the 25th, with a severe drop in the temperature both day and night, although the sun was stinging for the whole day, all day long, late into the evening, bringing its own stress to the grapes.

The days wore on, with not a drop of dew in the mornings, and the plants were holding these strange, 2018 clusters. This year, we have had huge clusters for the first time in our history, but in the first days of October, when the cool, drying winds arrived, the fruit began to lose its swelling, and the berries began to get softer. The plants weren’t able to push through to the last ripening, and something had to give. With this situation, we couldn’t yet pick the grapes — they’re too flat yet full of sweetness — so we misted the fields to give the grapes the final push, and ten hours later, they were swollen again, resuscitated from that state of complete mush. Few would do this before the picking, but this was a completely different kind of year.

After this wetting of the vineyards, we had real rain over the dustbowl; a distant foam in the wind; then the sun a bit far in the season, low, orange, saving again until this very last new moon. Everything again became profound and ripe. The cabernet franc started coming in two days after the new moon in short pickings, then a massive one in the plains and in the cru Magnacosta on the 10th of October. We paused for a few days, waiting on the hard grapes in the higher vineyards and then went for another big, conclusive clearing of Camagi and other ripe vineyards on the mountain – an unexpected record crop, with trains of wagons and pickups lined in front of the winery way into the night, headlights on everywhere. All of this on the 14th, with the remaining parcels cleared the next day.

Then, mushrooms up in the forest.

– Andrea Franchetti

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