If you really want to learn about wine you have to learn about the vine, mysterious plant that enters into the depths of the earth, able to condense in a few ripe grapes the essence of the man-nature relationship, the game that there is between them. Indeed, between man and nature there is competition, challenge, strategy; all this, is less evident in the summer with the tremendous growth and maturation of the grapes, which takes place in a few weeks and leaves little time to its observation.
But the close relationship of man and nature, which is expression of the wine and the vine, is very clear and very fascinating when you watch the vineyards in the winter . Why? Because once the vine is stripped of all its leaves you can observe its shape and age, and from that to figure out many things, the first is certainly the “wine history” of that region, and then the seriousness and passion of the winemakers.
The winemakeres have always shaped the vines, they did take a particular shape: high, low, wide, narrow, sapling, bush … to make it produce the best in that particular environment, made of soil composition, quantity of water and power of the sun. For example, there are types of cultivation of the vine called “canopy”, used in Southern Italy, and which were born to create plenty of shade and so protect the ground from the sun’s strong rays, while other forms of vines as the “cordon-trained” or “guyot” serve, among other functions, to ensure that each vine has its portion of the sun that warms the soil and helps the assimilation processes of the roots.
If you are in Florence and come with us for a Tuscan Wine Tasting Tour, you can easily observe that, to make Chianti wine and Super Tuscans wines, the Sangiovese vines are mostly “cordon-trained”.
Also, without the leaves, vine and vineyard reveal their age. A “foot” of vine can live long, an average of 50 years. The more it ages the less it produces although its wine becomes better. In its first three years the vine develops and produces, but the clusters are not good enough to produce wine. Between 10 and 30 years old it produces plenty and very good grapes.
After this age it produces less grapes, but with very rich juice. So a good wine maker always keeps a part of the vineyard with the older vines to ensure Tuscan high quality wine in term of aromas, perfumes and body.