A Super Marche Wine made @ Villa San Raffaello
Over Eight years ago we journeyed down to a vine distributor in Ascoli province and purchased 100 vines. With the help of a team of local experts we planted a vineyard in the hope that we could not only become self-sufficient but also to enable us to provide free wines to our own guests.
This October saw Villa San Raffaello’s 4th real harvest. Helped by Angelo Casagrande, John, Libby, Mary and David Storer, this year’s bumper harvest took 40 man hours to cut, mash, press and then finish off squidging by hand.
A very pleasant task carried out with the Autumn sun setting over the majestic Sibillini Mountains in this this lovely part of Marche.
Wine Quality and Quantity
Once pressed, the initial sugars in the Grape must are the indicator for the potential alcohol and quality of next years wine. The sugar content of the Syrah, Merlot, Sangiovese mix came in at a very respectable 19 degrees and the volume a record breaking 500K just about fitted into our 500 brew tub.
To keep the workers happy Damien rustled up a pasta for lunch, David brought bread and Caiuscolo a local spreadable sausage, John and Libby brought beers and cheese and Mary a lovely Salad. Our feast was eaten al fresco and then, tired but happy, we continued to process the copious volumes of grapes.
Wine Must Fermentation
Once pressed and in the brew tub, the grapes and skins start to ferment and the skins are forced to the surface by carbon dioxide and need to be pushed down and stirred each day to ensure that tannins are released into the brew.
Friends Rick and Roy assisted with this daily task during fermentation and then, once all of the sugars had turned to alcohol another friend, John Ellaby arrived from the UK to help tidy and close the villa. John painstakingly hand squeezed the skins for about 6 hours to emit the last and best of the juice.
The Wine Barrel
As the quality and quantity of the wine was so improved this year we felt that it deserved to be treated to a new barrel that would aid the settling and mellowing process and enhance the flavours and notes in the wine. A friend sourced a 3 year old French Oak Barrique at Maria Pia Castelli a winery that has won multiple awards for its wines and the owner Enrico was kind enough to give Damien a tour of the winery and give him a number of tips on temperature, hydrometers and fermentation that we hope will improve the wine this year.
Providing there is sufficient warmth, the tart tannins and acids naturally present in grape must or Mosto, are converted to softer-tasting lactic acid. This happens in the form of Malolactic fermentation as a secondary fermentation shortly after the end of the primary fermentation, and this usually occurs when temperatures start to rise in Spring or during a very mild Winter. The process is standard for most red wine production and for some white grape varieties and can impart a “buttery” flavor from diacetyl, a byproduct of the reaction. As steel barrels naturally reduce temperatures it’s therefore necessary to have wine stored in wood to guarantee that this process occurs and that you elicit the best flavours from your wine.
As the wine ferments a little is lost to evaporation and needs to be regularly topped up with surplus wine stored in airtight demijohns.
Villa San Raffaello wine vintage 2015
There should be over 300 litres of this Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah blend ready for guest visiting the villa in 2016 and hopefully a little left over for the owners and those who helped work on the wine with us.