When Wine Agreed

India Today - - SPICE - The au­thor is a wine con­nois­seur and owner of Cavalli Delgi Dei win­ery in Italy

WHEN WE DE­CIDED TO PLANT THE VINE,

WE SIM­PLY AGREED WITH THE LAND.

I have lived in Pan­zano in Chi­anti since 1989, com­bin­ing work and pas­sion, and have al­ways loved this area. My fa­ther and I would fre­quent this area dur­ing my child­hood, tak­ing long walks to­gether; he even taught me to ride here. Since then I have been at­tracted to the Chi­anti coun­try­side and fas­ci­nated by its life­style and cul­ture. Here, horses and vine­yards are in­te­gral parts of the land­scape and I can­not imag­ine this place with­out them.

When we de­cided to plant vines, we sim­ply agreed with the land. The five hectares of vine­yards, closely spaced rows of Mer­lot, Caber­net Franc, Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, and Petit Ver­dot, were planted fol­low­ing a care­ful anal­y­sis of the ter­rain. They were planted in the sun­ni­est, high­est ar­eas of the es­tate, at el­e­va­tions rang­ing from 400-450 m above sea level. My vine­yard faces en­tirely south, and is planted on fairly firm soil that is rich in gale­stro, a lo­cal rock type which is well drained. This is the per­fect ter­rain for pro­duc­ing well struc­tured wines of great depth, with con­sid­er­able in­ten­sity and char­ac­ter, and a marked min­eral com­po­nent.

My flag­ship wine is an IGT Toscana called Cavalli Tenuta degli Dei, made from Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon (60%), Petit Ver­dot (25%) and Caber­net Franc (15%) and pro­duced to fill about 23,000 bot­tles. Le Re­dini is a young soft red, in­tro­duced with the 2008 vin­tage, and al­most en­tirely Mer­lot (90%), with the ad­di­tion of some Ali­cante. Both are pro­duced fol­low­ing ex­act­ing, al­most ma­ni­a­cal stan­dards of the sort that are in­evitable when one wants to bring only the best pos­si­ble grapes into the cel­lars. Work in the vine­yard is con­tin­u­ous and done en­tirely by hand: from count­ing the num­ber of buds, to tilling of the land, to green har­vest­ing. Ev­ery op­er­a­tion is aimed at bring­ing just a few bunches, usu­ally to­talling about a kilo per vine to per­fect ripeness.

We chose to match the el­e­gance of French grapes to the el­e­gance and the tra­di­tion of the Pan­zano in Chi­anti’s ter­ri­tory. I do not use any mod­ern tech­nol­ogy but try to process each phase of the pro­duc­tion with the ap­proach of an ar­ti­san, only de­ter­mined to get the best qual­ity and sup­ported by a great pas­sion. Each grape is har­vested by hand, vini­fi­cated and aged sep­a­rately; only the best parts re­sult in the final blends. Once they reach the win­ery, the grapes, di­vided by vine­yard par­cel, are put through two se­lec­tions where we re­move im­per­fect berries are re­moved to­gether with all traces of leaves and stems. The grapes se­lected are dropped by grav­ity into tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled ver­ti­cal steel fer­men­ta­tion tanks.

The newly fer­mented wines are aged into one and two-year-old bar­riques and ton­neaux made from French oak. They un­dergo mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion, and ma­ture for 16-18 months in the case of the wine des­tined to be­come Cavalli Tenuta degli Dei, and about 10 months in the case of a younger wine. It is only then that the wines are as­sem­bled. Once bot­tled, Cavalli Tenuta degli Dei ma­tures for an­other 14-16 months in the bot­tle, and Le Re­dini four to six months. Only then they are ready to mea­sure them­selves with the world mar­kets.

TOM­MASO CAVALLI

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