At SIPS the summer of 2023 has been a glorious time. When we weren't soaking up the sunshine, we were busy working on exciting projects behind the scenes. We needed a little break to reset and we were lucky enough to be able to free up the last week of August to head to visit our dear friends Trish and Piero at the Gazzetta winery set in the hills of Lazio, overseeing the beautiful Lago di Bolsena. It's hard to imagine a more picturesque setting at the crossroads of vines, lake and sky. Here time seems to slow down and nature takes back control.
Storms rolled in across the lake on the first day there so we took shelter at the cellar and bottled some of the autumn releases from the 2022 harvest to free up space for the new vintages. We eased into the rhythm of the cellar guided by Piero, making sure everything was exactly where it needed to be. Making things perfectly clean, cleaning the new bottles out, filling them from the tank, sealing the cork in place and taking them into storage to settle. And of course, we found time to sample these new wines before they are sent around the world.
After a few days of bottling the weather thankfully cleared up, the vineyards dried out and we were out harvesting in the Belvedere vineyard where they grow Ansonica, Malvasia Toscana, Procanico and Trebbiano all mixed together in each row of vines. This was the traditional way of growing and has been maintained at Gazzetta as it used to be. We would spend the mornings with the harvest crew gathering the grapes, row by row, until we had enough to fill the lorry. It's been a good year at Gazzetta despite many neighbours having had issues with Mildew and drought. This vineyard we harvested, vines were laden heavily with grapes. They are trained to be very high on two trellis wires meaning there is slightly less back breaking crouching, but still a few days of hard work. Once harvested,we would all meet at the cellar for a long lunch, masterfully prepared everyday by Trish in the shade of the pine trees and a short break for coffee and relaxation before the afternoon work would begin.
Then the most exciting part: the press! Box by box we unloaded into the press transferring over to a large vat. We had prepared a starter a couple of days prior, pressed by foot, where the fermentation had already started between the sugars and indigenous yeasts found on the fruits and the hands of those who harvested them. The starter was then added to the fresh grape juice and skins to kickstart the fermentation. This was then covered and the magic left to happen. We finished the days off by meticulously cleaning everything from top to bottom to be ready for the next day. As Piero said “90% of winemaking is cleaning” and it cannot be understated just how important this is. The fermentation is then left to work its magic with a regular pump over bringing the liquid back over the skins to ensure the tannins and colours are passed through to create these wonderful rich orange wines that we love
On our last night at Gazzetta we ate a home cooked meal with Trish and Piero, as well as Jacopo Ajola, the winemaker behind the wonderful wines of the eponymous Ajola winery. We enjoyed a large Bisteca Fiorentina cooked over the fire and spoke until the blue moon had risen high in the sky. As we cleared the table and said our goodbyes it was time to reflect on such a wonderful week. It was incredibly affirming to be reminded of all the passion, patience and love that goes into making these low intervention wines. Everything in the city happens so fast and we are always looking to the next distraction but these wines that we drink tell a whole story of microclimates, droughts, sunshine, narrowly-avoided hailstorms and spontaneous fermentations. We are incredibly proud to represent these forward thinking visionaries that create the fermented juices we love so much and can’t wait for you all to try the 2023 wines that we had a (tiny) part in preparing!