In the heart of the medieval village of Altomonte, in the Cosenza province, the winery Terre di Balbia operates; it has recently founded but already has an important history. Terre di Balbia was established at the beginning of the 21st century, but the challenge was relaunched in 2014 by the engineer Giuseppe Chiappetta and his brother Nicola from Cosenza, who took over the company and defined its development. I met Giuseppe at the last Vinitaly, while I was tasting their wines and learning about the history of the winery, which was founded on the passion and the vision of producing quality wine, focusing especially on the indigenous Calabrian grapes with great quality potential. Among the wines tasted, was Fervore made with Magliocco grapes, which I’m going to talk you about today.
With the arrival of the Chiappetta brothers in the business, Terre di Balbia started to take advantage of important collaborations with experts for the construction of the cellar, the control of the winemaking processes and the choice of winemaking techniques. These partnerships also affected the upgrading of the management of the vineyard, starting wih the winter and spring pruning techniques, to ensure the longevity of the plants. Eight hectares of vineyards, between the sea breezes that blow from the plain of Sybaris and the mountain winds of the Pollino chain, were planted with Magliocco, Gaglioppo and Merlot; olive trees are also grown here.
The aim of upgrading the existing vineyards and planting new vines is to obtain the best quality of grapes that could be grown organically. The spurred cordon training system has been transformed into Guyot, while for the new plants the ancient traditional system of alberello calabrese (bush win) with a very high planting density (about 10,000 plants per hectare) has been chosen, to ensures a better quality of grapes.
The vineyard where the Magliocco grape is grown – the grape chosen to produce Fervore – is exposed to the south and it extends for about 1.30 hectares. The plants dig their roots into a red clay soil that gradually, along the slope, becomes whiter and whiter. The slope of the vineyard has a 20% gradient. The texture of sand and stones, becomes more prominent with the depth of the soil, and ensures the right amount of humidity, as well as reduce the water stress of the plants in the hottest periods.
The organic production of grapes is guaranteed by exclusively preventive treatment based on copper and sulfur. All the processes in the vineyard are carried out repetitively by hand, such as the weeds mowings which is done without using any herbicides. The producer operates in a distinctive way by not using fertilisers, dry farming the vines and crop thinning near the time of véraison to anhance ripening and quality. At harvest time the bunches are directly selected in the vineyard and the plants are winter pruned with no more than 8-10 buds, to achieve a maximum yield of 1 kilo per wine. The healthy and ripe grapes are harvested and put in small crates, with a maximum weigth of 15 kg, to be transported to the winery for the following winemaking activities.
At the winery, each crate is emptied manually into a destemmer crusher machine and the selected grapes are then gentle crushing. Alcoholic fermentation and cold maceration take place in a single temperature controlled 50 hl stainless steel vat. The juice is kept in contact with the skins for 12 to 15 days. Pumping over is carried out for the first two days, then rack and return (délestages) is carried out twice a day. At the end of the maceration, the skins are pressed with a vertical hydraulic press with a steel cage.
After racking, the Fervore is moved into oak French barriques, 50% new oak and 50% second usage, where malolactic fermentation takes place, with daily batonnage until the first racking. After about 9 months of oak maturation, the wine, without the aid of any clarifying agent and tartrate stability process, is bottled and mature for at least other 12 months before being put on the market.
Now let’s move on to the story of Fervore 2016.
An intense ruby red wine, clear and bright, with hints of ripe cherry, plum, dried fruit such as almonds and walnuts which are perceived immediately on the nose. Then pleasant notes of violet and herbaceus emerge, along with spicy pepper, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. In the mouth, the wine is dynamic, and the fresh-savory component of Fervore still prevails over softness and a well-managed alcohol level. The wine is embracing, lasting for a long period of time in the mouth, with background hints of licorice.
The wine is still very young and versatile; it goes very well with beef and lamb dishes, first courses with sauce and semi-mature cheese.