More and more these days across Italy, young professionals are discovering wine as a means to socialize and to visit Italian wine country. The Italian Sommelier Association — known as AIS — hosts classes and tastings in nearly every major Italian market. These well attended events are favorites among the new generation of Italian wine lovers.
On a personal note, I meet them all the time at tastings and festivals in Italy. They are superb tasters and are highly informed about Italian wines, grape varieties, and appellations. And they interact seamlessly with Italian wine professionals, sommeliers and writers, who happily embrace them as peers.
When I came across a post on La Porta di Vertine by Stefano Alei, an AIS member from Rome, I thought it would be great to translate it here and to give readers a glimpse of how Italians view La Porta di Vertine. Thanks for reading and thanks to Stefano Alei for this great post!
Image via Bwined.it.
“My Visit to Porta di Vertine”
By Stefano Alei.
My visit to Porta di Vertine, a winery that produces natural wines in the shadow of the marvelous fortress village of Vertine, is partly a reflection of the nature of certain natural producers. They can be austere and even a bit grumpy. But when you ask them to talk about their wines, they light up with passion as they describe their growing practices and their vineyards…
The winery sits less than three km from Gaiole in Chianti village.
La Porta di Vertine’s owners’ adventure began when they acquired a beautiful amphitheater-shaped vineyard that faces south and lies on a peaceful hill at an altitude of more than 500 meters a.s.l.
They began production in 2006 and they are the embodiment of the philosophy that guides them: less is more.
They have roughly ten hectares planted to vine, mostly Sangiovese but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Canaiolo, Colorino, and Malvasia Nera.
The philosophy that they have embraced is that of letting Sangiovese express its character in the vineyards and in the cellar.
They are big believers, for example, in using cover crops to aerate the soil and they are careful not to limit the tilling of the soil to only the first 20-30 centimeters in depth.
From day one, they have been adamant about using cover crops. Initially, they planted grains between the rows. Today, they simply take advantage of the wild grasses that grow spontaneously there.
To fertilize the soil, they use a compost made of olive tree trimmings and cow manure.
The average yield per hectare is roughly 500 kg, a figure much lower than the limit imposed by the Chianti Classico Consortium.
They ferment their wines in stainless-steel and cement [vats]. But they are working more and more with cement. The reason is that they are adamant about not controlling the temperatures during vinification.
Maceration is relatively long at roughly two months. But in some cases, they have experimented with macerations lasting as long as four months.
The grapes are never sulfured. And sometimes, they are pressed with their stems. After maceration, they don’t rack the wines and so the wines are aged on their lees until bottling.
Sulfur is added only at bottling. They use roughly 70 mg per liter, a number much lower than the legal limit for sulfur (150 mg/l), even though the World Health Organization prescribed daily limit for the human consumption of sulfur is 49 mg.
Remember: Sulfur isn’t just used in wine! It’s a useful antiseptic and anti-oxidant that we find in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis.
La Porta di Vertine produces about 35,000 bottles per year and most of these are sold abroad.
Now let’s check out their cellar, where we tasted the Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 and the 2012. We also tried the wine that will become their Chianti Classico 2014 directly from the cask.
They are all very interesting wines. The younger ones are vinous in character, fruity and very pleasant on the nose. They are fresh and tannic, notes that we should expect in wines from this area and they will certainly “have a lot to tell us” over the course of the years.