In July we are in the middle of the hot season, and in the mid also of the famous “100 days” that are needed to let grape grow and mature. Among ample and shadowing vine leaves you can see the bunches and their grapes that take color and volume: in the vineyard the work to be done is that of “sfogliatura”, namely the elimination of some leaves covering the bunches in order to make the sun rays and warmth without being burned and dried. This is one of the “peasant wisdom” hard to describe in precise rules, and you can find out with a direct visit to the Tuscan vineyards of Chianti and Super Tuscans or even to those of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, where you can talk to the owners and observe the the grapes in the Vineyard.
While the wine maker takes care of the balance between sun and shade to ensure the good performance of the vineyard, the grape grows so that its volume reaches the optimal size and bunch takes its classic form of inverted pyramid; for Sangiovese grapes, which are the basis of the production of the Chianti wine, the perfect grape will have a diameter of 12-15 mm. Few know that the grapes have a “navel”, which is at the bottom of each grape and which is a characteristic known only by connoisseurs to distinguish a grape rather than another, it also indicates the correct degree of ripeness; for example the Sangiovese grape has a navel gently hinted while in other grapes, such as those of the Cabernet Sauvignon, this sign is more pronounced.
A surprise that you can have during the winery tour in this month of July is to find the “lugliatica” or “luglienga”, Italian words meaning “typical grape of July”, a white table grape grown for family consumption and that is early, as the name says: it becomes good to eat much before the other grapes used to make wine. The vine of this grape is ancient, the first historical references date back to 1300 and in some country in Europe, as in Belgium and the Netherlands, they used to grow it in a greenhouse; it has a pleasant taste, the bunch is irregular but rich, and it lasts a long time on the plant and even once cut off. Wandering through the vineyards, watching the vines under the sun, you may find some of these pergolas lugliatica that many families grow to create a shady space in the garden or in the vineyard and also to bring to the table these amazing fruits that make us make step ahead in time, anticipating a rich harvest season to come!