Deciding the right time to harvest is both an art and a science. We check the grapes from the time of veraison (the time of the beginning of the ripening process), and as the harvest approaches, we tour the vineyard to check the grapes. We control various aspects, but mainly sugars, acidity and polyphenols.
As a first step we want there to be a sufficiently high level of sugars present in the berry, this will decide the eventual alcohol percentage of the wine. Then, we monitor the acidity of the grapes to get that right measure of sweetness without losing the freshness provided by the acidity. The acidity present in grapes is also important for the color, structure and aging ability of the wine.
Finally, we check phenolic maturity. This is the time when the phenolic components (the anthocyanins and tannins) are ripe. Phenols are found in the stems, skins, and seeds of grapes, and are critical for color, flavor, complexity, and aging. When these three factors align, it is time to seize! It’s just a matter of balance; that’s the art. Typically, this window is small and is a gamble as the autumn weather tests us.
Montecalvi has the advantage of being small, so we can harvest the vines at different times by making multiple passes so that we only pick when the time is right. Doing this takes a combination of courage and luck, but the most important component is the team of harvesters-and we undoubtedly have the best of them led by Yahya and Marco.
Wish us the best of luck in the weeks ahead!