• In what way does the weather influence the identity of the vintage?

    That the weather has a direct influence on each year’s results is irrefutable.
    Every winemaker knows that the same wine can never be had, because the weather, which is unique and unrepeatable each year, has such an effect.

    Often I realise that consumers look for a product they can recognise, with a familiar taste. This is just like going to a restaurant and asking for a drink of a particular brand and getting a similar, but different drink–one that we aren’t used to.

    Of course wine isn’t–and shouldn’t be–compared to an industrial drink.
    The latter should indeed have the same flavour to satisfy each client and reassure with the same, consistent taste.

    But wine is an expression of the land,

    the vintage, the weather

    and the winemaker.

     

    I find it really interesting to look for different sensations attributable to the weather in all its aspects (for example, different temperatures at different points during the year, the number of millimetres of rain, the percentage humidity, or the differing lengths of each season) and how these are expressed in the wine and influence each year.

    • Vintages with higher than average temperatures (especially from flowering to harvest) usually bring early-ripening grapes, with greater quantities of sugar. This results in higher than average alcohol content than in cooler years, which usually result in less alcoholic wine.
    • Years that are sunnier than usual can result in wines with more lively and intense colour (keeping in mind the colour characteristics of each variety) or wines with more attenuated colour.
    • Years with greater temperature fluctuations between day and night (especially towards veraison) enrich and amplify aromas and bouquet, while also adding to elegance and refinement.
    • Vintages that are especially favoured and of unusual quality are a result of excellent ripening (in all aspects) of the grape clusters, leading to a perfectly-timed harvest.

    The ideal weather for each variety differs; it is a rare-enough occurrence and it makes wines from exclusive parts of the world (for example, Nebbiolo in the Langhe region) unique.

     

     

    It is stimulating to look for and find all these aspects in a glass of wine, instead of looking for identical characteristics each year.
    To be able to taste different vintages of the same wine and perceive the many different sensations is what I look for and prefer.

     

     

    And it is also what distinguishes wine from any other type of conventional drink.

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  • Winery’s eno-turism projects: from the artistic activities to the picnic in the vineyard

    Here’s great news for wine lovers and anyone interested in the world of wine. Offers of food and wine served outdoors are on the rise in response to the demand for activities that put people in touch with nature and offer a chance to get out of the city for a day.

    Food and wine tourism focuses on getting to know wine-producing areas and local cellars. Winemakers in these areas offer various activities, in addition to wine tasting which make an indispensable contribution of economic development throughout Italy.

    For both experts and neophytes alike, visiting a cellar, getting to know the producer and his philosophy, learning about vineyard and vinification techniques and understanding the effort and enthusiasm behind each bottle of wine are all fantastic opportunities.

    This is not a marketing strategy, it is communicating essential information to the client–useful knowledge to help in choosing products that reflect his or her taste as well as ideas about responsible, sustainable production.

    We can no longer make excuses–we now know that we are what we eat and drink.

    What can Piedmont contribute to satisfy this thirst for knowledge?

    Here are some activities we recommend you try:

    • Guided visits to wine estates, with tastings accompanied by local products.
    • Spa and beauty packages using products derived from grapes, with their anti-oxidising and anti-inflammatory properties;
    • Visits to local vineyards, as well as exploring and trekking in them to enjoy nature and the area’s magnificent panorama;
    • Cellar and vineyard lunches that pair traditional local cuisine with typical wines of the area;
    • Scooter tours with stops in various cellars and wine shops;
    • Harvests open to tourists, so that they can participate in this unique experience firsthand;
    • Bicycle and electric bicycle tours for exercise that respect the surrounding region;
    • Truffle hunts with a truffle hunter and his dog, to discover all the tricks of the trade and observe a trained dog in action;
    • Artistic and cultural activities such as installations and design-oriented cellars, many of them built with environmental considerations in mind.
    • Yoga in the vineyard, to relax and exercise in the midst of breathtaking scenery;
    • Vineyard picnics.

     

     

    For this last activity the first picnic booking site, Picnic Chic, has been established.

    This platform helps picnickers to find restaurants, gastronomy shops and cellars that offer special experiences, such as picnic baskets with local products ready for tasting outside.

    A simple solution to the job of organising a day out.

    These experiences combine the discovery of new places, both close to home or further afield, with support for small Italian businesses that now more than ever are in need.

    It’s also the rediscovery of small villages and the beauty of Italy envied the world over.

     

  • The legend of “Masche”, or Piedmontese witches – tempestuous women like me

    I remember being little on cold winter afternoons with my grandmother recounting stories of the Piedmontese witches or

    “Masche”

    (pronounced mas-keh).

    I was half-afraid and half-charmed by these stories that had women as heroines with magical powers. My grandmother told me about these women who lived alone, and had black cats and nocturnal animals accompanying them out at dusk to mutter curses and spells.

    These women and their rites could influence the harvest of crops and grapes and even the health of people in the village.

    They were blamed for drought, sick farm animals or unfortunate accidents in the fields. They could make things disappear and reappear in strange locations; how often did I hear “aj sun le masche!!”, or ‘it must have been the witches’! whenever my granny couldn’t find her glasses. And I laughed, ‘but Granny, they’re on top of your head!’I don’t want to recount the stories people told here, but rather how I looked at it, growing up. As I said before, most of the women who were considered ‘Masche’, were solitary women who had had a misadventure in life, or simply preferred to live as they pleased, without giving importance to what people around them thought.

    These women, who frightened “normal” people, I would consider anticonformist, free and courageous.

    Independence and choices that go against the grain often scare people who are afraid of the unfamiliar. All the more so if the anti-conformist was a woman. Irrepressible women who made bold choices, choosing to ignore the dictates of fathers, husbands or whomever else to keep them happy.

    And instead, who followed their own desires even at the price of being viewed as a malevolent witch. I’m inclined to think that the legend of the witches came about because of limited knowledge in the areas of medicine, veterinary medicine and agronomy. Without a rational explanation of events, someone to blame was needed to explain the ‘why’ of each misfortune. The easiest and most efficient solution was to find a scapegoat, so much the better if it was a solitary woman with an unusual, if not wholly outlandish lifestyle.

    Women have always had to work twice as hard to obtain freedoms that we take for granted today: choosing which clothes to wear, who to marry or if to marry at all, which job to do–in short to make choices regarding their own lives. Perhaps it is in some way thanks to these ‘Masche’ that we can now live our lives as we wish, and make alternative choices that in the time of the witches would have been looked at askance.

    So hurray for the women with superpowers like courage, tenacity and a revolutionary spirit, ready to challenge any prejudice or superstition!

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