7000 bottles of Brunello 2015 century vintage in danger!!!
10 tons of Sangiovese grapes of the exceptional 2015 vintage at Corte Pavone are at the mercy of threatening rainclouds…
“Not again!” I say giving vent to my grumpy mood. On the highway to Geneva this goes on continuously. However, I am absolutely determined to make the road to Montalcino via Livorno, Pisa and Grosseto in the estimated time.
Meanwhile at Corte Pavone nearly 40 workers are looking forward to the end of the harvest. We all know that this time we finally made the big catch, everything went optimally, the weather, the vineyard works throughout the year (see below “What happened in 2015 at Corte Pavone”), the harvest preparations and the harvest so far. The harvesting procedure was pre-planned meticulously and accurately in full detail with the help of our vineyard quality zones that were introduced in 2011 (article later on). The goal was to harvest the grapes at the zenith of their ripening process at the best possible conditions.
About one week ago the meteorologists forecasted a 4 to 5 day long bad weather front coming from Sardinia, the extensions of the ex-hurricane “Joaquin” threatened our final ventures, everybody knows about the seasonal rain and its terrible effects at our latitudes.
Consequently, the last 3 days were horror for everyone, as two-thirds of the grapes had to be brought into the cellar. In the cellar and between the grapevines the air was loaded with increased levels of adrenaline and testosterone. All workers have to deliver 110 % of their performance in order to bring the last 3 hectares to a safe and dry place until the 30-th of September.
Have we taken a risk too big for us?
By now I am a good deal further on my way, the traffic is mild with my growing impatience, there are only few kilometers left until Montalcino.
As I literally jump in around 6 o’clock in the evening into our legendary cypress avenue, I see the harvesters coming forward from Campo Levante, our last vineyard. Did they make it? It is not raining yet, but the sky has already turned disturbingly black. I did not call on purpose, because I have full confidence in my team, they all would do their best, they have excellent leaders and professionals.
I get out of the car and immediately notice a striking silence in the vineyard. Very suspect, I think, in a place where I expected nervous hustle and bustle. I look for my two confidential stewards, Daniele, responsible for the cellar and Matteo, in charge of the vineyard skills. I find no one and therefore go straight to the 100 meter lower-lying Campo Levante. There too was a dead silence.
There they are! Approximately 400 to 500 cases packed with the ripest Sangiovese grapes among the vines dispensed in rows. And an incredible humidity in the air. Oh, damn, I am thinking, the rain! There were nearly 7000 bottles of Brunello of this unique 2015 vintage unprotected in the open air.
Finally I hear tractor sounds! Salvation is on its way! In the following 5 hours I am witness and protagonist of the perfectly executed harvest and work plan, devised by my team at Corte Pavone.
Two separate teams are loading the continuously working tractors with grape cases, which are carried purposefully and quickly into the grape selection hall. Each charge is inspected for vineyard of origin, clone and quality zone, registered and prepared for further processing. Everything by hand! It is a back-breaking, arduous work that physically takes one to the limit. Slowly, but surely a fine smile is starting to show on everyone’s face, the end is near!
Suddenly, around 10 o’clock in the evening in total darkness Giuseppe shouts from his recently parked tractor: “Sono le ultime! È fatta!” (“The last cases, we made it!”) and in that same moment it starts to rain …
After two more hours of hard work at the grape selection and processing, towards the fermentation cellar there are only a few cases missing. Several bottles of our Spumante “Le Perle di Pavone” are already cooled for us. The whole team around Matteo & Daniele, Daniela, Beppe, Giordano, Jacopo, Rita, Marco and the two trainees, Johannes and Simone are all standing on the stage with the last case of Sangiovese of this legendary vintage, they are all smiling and celebrating, now it is done.
Hip Hip Hooray!