Searching for the etymological meaning of “sincere”, one finds the following explanation: The Romans used to order from Greek ceramists and vase makers big quantities of anforas for wines and olive oil. The inner coating of the vases had to be impermeabilized, to be precise, they had to be vitrified, to avoid seeping. The Greeks often took shortcuts, and , instead of vitrifying ( more costly) , they used liquid wax which they poured inside the container. After some time, the trick was discovered , because the liquid was coming out of the vase due to the porosity. By then, the Romans, who had become shrewd, would, when placing orders of vases to the Greeks ask specifically for them to be SINA CERA ; without wax. In practice, without tricks. This is where the word sincere comes from, meaning: without cheating. Sincere might not be the most appropriate term to define a wine, one would rather use it for a person ( though it is a rare quality) We like to “match ” Valgiano wines with the following qualitative terms: CONSISTENCY SOFTNESS VISCOSITY VIVACITY AND EXUBERANCE TEXTURE MINERALITY LENGTH AROMATIC PERSISTENCY COMPLEXITY These are the basis for the gel-sensorial tasting. Touching the wine by focusing on the way it feels in the mouth, on the tongue, and dwelling upon the salivation produced, one has access to the complexity of the place where it originates from. As Henry Jayer often used to say, wine is not made to be evaluated , nor to make a note of. It is not made to be smelled, but to be drunk. It was created by our ancestors to enhance the pleasure of staying together. It accompanies the most important rituals of living with others, from Platoon’s banquets to the friends’ tosses stroked up with “cheers”! Hence, the wine from Valgiano is a “vin de lieu” , which belongs to a place, full of thousands of shades of ..rock!
In Ancient Greece, land was assigned only to those who enjoyed the trust of the community, because that was where the food for all of them came from. For thousands of years, the farmer was he who practised labours useful for the fertility of the soils, not impoverish it. This system of land management lasted until very recently in the Lucchesia, in places like the Garfagnana, until the beginning of the 20th century. Land belonged to the community who entrusted it to different families every year, according to the numbers of mouths to be fed and the working arms; controlling the management and supervising making sure it would never impoverish. These were the rules until the arrival of the succession law up to the privatisation The result being: abandoned country sides, landslides and disorder. In Valgiano, we have taken charge of our responsibilities, the landscape resists, the woods are in balance with plenty of humus. Outside of the woodland, the farming soil is ever so fertile, farmed lovingly with biodynamic preparates, ( during these passed days the 500P). Several products are cultivated here, some more delicate than others; they can be enjoyed and tasted in the wine glasses, in the dips and dressings “pinzimonio” or baked , grilled (chicken, guinea fowl, geese) . Monica is the cheese maker just above our top vineyard ,with her 10 wonderful Kashmere goats produces all kinds of goat cheese such as the ricotta, the “erborinati”, “caprini” fresh and seasoned, which match perfectly the wines, olive oil hand honey from their same terroir. Still too early to judge the 2014 vintage..this suspense will fill us with unexpected surprises…to be continued..
Talking about the weather may be a British habit but when the season is so dull, it becomes a day talk even in Mediterranean countries. When will it ever stop raining? Bob had already asked an alternative question, in 1963: ” how many years can a mountain exist before it’s washed to the sea”? And the answer will not be given by time-waster meteorologists, “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”..After a hot, dry and absurd April, the cold was back in May, slowing vegetation down. Hot and cold weather were alternated, leaving plants and people disconcerted; is it spring or still the winter that never came? In July the much longed for summer did not arrive, one could have called it Julyember. Continuously very humid, the few days of break from the violent downpours were useful to work the new vineyard: driving the stakes onto the ground, hoeing the grass, which seemed to be devouring the new vines still undefended. Milk with sulphur needed to be spayed rapidly, 501 early in the morning, and in the beginning of August, the Valeriana. Alex Podolinsky came back to Valgiano. Standing on the terrace, he delved into the horizon then departed, full of energy, for a three months tour around Europe giving lectures to careful farmers. When he returned, he was tired but satisfied. He said the best farmers are in Italy. For this reason we can say HURRAH for Italy!
From the Peak, Hong Kong can be properly seen, felt and admired.
A twisting road reached up to it, but I took the tram, which climbs up hill steeper and steeper penetrating the tropical vegetation.
A bit of air, finally! The warm wind blows from the huge metropolis underneath, swarming with activity amongst skyscrapers, ships, helicopters, chaotic yet tidy highways.
Many distributors, tasters and curious people came to taste the wines at the International Wines and Spirit fair, (Nov 7-9) on the fifth floor, where Valgiano was in the Italian section, located next to the French. There, I met lots of people from China, Taiwan and India.Bye Bye HK, I am off to Shanghai, and my first day there was a Sunday, so I made my way to the market, where noiseless mopeds speed both ways and the pungent stink of fermented tofu attacks my nostrils; I am contented with a nice tea in a temple served with dumplings and sweet delights.In the afternoon, I am taken to the Muay Thai to do Thai boxing, (which I really liked), and later, a fantastic massage done by a blind man restores me.
There I was, ready for an intense week of work organized, by Sarment ‘s staff that distribute the wines from Valgiano in HK and China.The timetable was filled up with appointments. For the moment, wines in Shanghai and Beijing are sold through Premium distribution channels.
So we shall see if the sommeliers from the Four Seasons, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, or Park Hyatt will choose to introduce Valgiano on their wine lists; there is certainly a lot of work that could be done there…However, I can say that there was a lot of interest; I met many people who had a great deal of professionalism, they were curious, open minded, it was pleasant working and drinking with them, we spent some good times together.
It is still a bit too early to say whether the trip was a success, but my overall feeling was that there has been some good sowing on a soil that had been properly and skilfully prepared…!
Summer has finally arrived. It seems only yesterday that we still had blankets on our beds, but the vines feel the heat, their shoots harden and turn yellow until they become wood, capable of going through winter filled up precious matter for next year.I wander around the vineyards that smell of sulphur looking for the first red berry, the scout that opens the track, the rest will follow massively.
A stop in the spring run for a storm! We waited for spring but when it arrived, 15 days late, gosh! it was fast!You could see the shoots and grass growing, you could almost listen to the growth! Shoot-thinning, mowing, spraying 501, rain, first spray with milk only, broken tractor, broken quad, second 501, rain, second spray milk only, shoot-thinning, mowing, broken tractor, broken quad, broken mower, rain, third spray milk and sulphure, shoot-thinning, mowing, third 501…. And so on….
I’ve tried to produce oil on my own, with my olive trees, but they’re not many – only about fifty – and when I go to the mill, it’s useless: I only get an exchange, olives for oil, oil squeezed from anything, and the only hope is that the other producers in the area do not inundate their fields with chemical products. But there’s no certainty of this. So I may as well buy it; it’s quicker and cheaper.I’m holding on to my olive grove though, because it’s there and because it’s beautiful. But the olives are picked by some friends of mine who have them squeezed together with their own. They come to my place and pick them. For them, it’s worth the effort.And the oil? Fully aware of the failure of my little self-sufficiency project, I get the oil from Laura in Valgiano. This way, I’m absolutely sure that it’s good, not poisoned but actually biodynamic. Because there’s lots of land there in Valgiano, and lots of people who work it – people who have made living in harmony with the countryside and with one another their life philosophy.Valgiano is a world apart that contains everything: the forest, the vegetable garden, the vineyard, chickens, lemons, pigs, biodynamic preparations using horn manure, the bees and the friends, children and dogs, the nanny and the cat, the farmers, the oenologist, the gardener and the garden, the greenhouse, the barbican walls, the villa, the wine cellar, the library and the billiard room, and an infinite landscape as far as the eye can see. I’ve listed these features in random order; it’s not important where we start from. Because every one of them is equally foundational. And here’s the lesson to be learned: there are some things that we cannot do on our own. I had deceived myself that I was living ecologically on my little farm. Instead, I’m sure that, if I measure it, my ecological footprint would be alarmingly deep and incisive. More than if I lived in a single-room apartment in front of the Coop supermarket!Vineyards, too, get old. The Cesari vineyard has been explanted now, and – while the earth takes a breather – they are also growing wheat there, so they’ll be sure it comes from selected seeds and that it is freshly ground, not like some flours that come from who knows where, are left to collect mould in a delivery container and in the end have so few live substances but such a great many toxic ones.Size counts. Some things cannot be done on one’s own; they’ll have no chance of succeeding. There’s just one way not to tire out more than is absolutely necessary and not to waste resources and energy: make sure that everything is part of something bigger, of a network of relationships, which is the network of life, after all. This has for centuries been the wisdom of the farmstead, of the country house. Now it is the foundational idea of permaculture: a portion of land big enough to contain a clean microcosm.Pia Pera 29th September 2012
Ci abitueremo mai a questa alternanza di piogge torrenzialiseguite da caldo siccitoso?Per fortuna le viti sembrano fatte apposta, per più di 40 giorni hanno continuato a crescere con l’umidità accumulata dall’humus.Adesso la parte fogliare è splendida, verde brillantesenza un accenno di sofferenza.