One of the things we enjoy most at Montecalvi is walking into the cellar to taste from the barrels. We do this regularly to monitor the evolution and quality of the wines. There is no such thing as a fixed recipe for our wines. Every vintage is different and each time we put a blend together there are different considerations. Much of the skill in what the French call élevage is understanding how wines will develop on their own or in a blend so that the wine that we produce is more complete and more complex than the sum of its parts.
With each of these tastings comes a great deal of responsibility. These are wines that are in their infancy and in a state of constant flux and the decisions we make are not easy. It can be a humbling exercise as you appreciate that the wine has its own character, with its own future in mind. Our role is just to guide it if needed, to look after it and to decide the right moment to release it from the cellar. The process of releasing our first Chianti Classico Riserva from the moment we decided there was a stand-out parcel of fruit through to when we found we had something extra special in barrel has been very rewarding.
So that’s what we mean when we say our winemaking is pared down to a minimum. It doesn’t mean that we are less attentive — quite the opposite. It means that we do our best to let each wine in our cellar speak for itself. We believe that if you work hard all year to deliver the best possible grapes to the cellar, then the best thing to do is to ‘get out of the way’ and let the wine become the best it can be without strong-arming it. Of course, you have to know what you are doing — someone once said that ‘you need to know a lot to do little’ in the cellar – and we believe that this is the best way to make wines of character and place. It is not for nothing that winemaking and parenting are said to be one and the same thing!