Chianti, I Balzini Winery and a soil made for wine

A soil’s nature, together with an apt climate, influence a region’s suitability for fine wine production. Chianti Classico’s region and its neighbouring areas have great heterogeneity of turf, which influences the growth and development of vines, of grapes, and consequently of wines.

Soil types range from sediments of sea and lake origin, to metamorphic rock: alberese (marl), Galestro (friable clay schist), sandstone, sea and lake clay, and river conglomerates.

The soil influences the sugary levels of the wine, as well as acidity, the weight of grapes, the amount of grapes produced per plant, and maturation. For high-quality red wines, vines benefit from soils that limit vigour and reduce the plant’s foliage. Water availability needs to be constant but not excessive.

At I Balzini Winery, in the Chianti region, where thermal excursions are significant, soils are sandy with sediments of sea origin, they are deep, never too fertile, and rich in water. Vines have balanced and regular access to water, even in the harshest years and can thus grow steadily towards grape maturity.

Adding to this, manual labour, pruning, foliage and grape upkeep, and careful check of plants’ health yields to elegant, soft, scented and luscious wines.

The wines I would offer Trump and Obama

American Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama are both visiting Italy.

It is indeed a very rare and fortuitous coincidence. The current and the last US President are both in our beautiful country. The former reached Rome yesterday, the latter is roaming around Siena happily with his wife Michelle.

Our country can only fascinate these two exceptional men, with its cities full of unique artistic and historical heritage. Besides, they will get to enjoy the best of our cuisine and wines. Barack Obama, with the help of Francesco Bartolotta, has already explored Italian wines, and Tuscan wines in particular. We are looking forward to find out what Donald Trump will get a taste of.

At I Balzini we would offer Trump an austere wine, typical of our region, I BALZINI White Label ’98. A vintage wine because only age can gift this bold 50% Sangiovese and 50% Sauvignon its Tuscan impression. With time, this wine loses its Cabernet plant-like notes, leaving room for the Sangiovese, conferring the wine its final character: a taste of blackberries.

For Obama we have chosen I BALZINI Black Label 2001, an extraordinary year. This Bourdeaux brand can provide strong olfactory emotions. The grapes grow in a vineyard of Pliocene origin, rich in fossils and organic sea substances. The Cabernet Sauvignon is refined by the Merlot, that makes it seductive and its scents unforgettable.

Cheers Presidents!

Deers, cute but harmful. How to prevent damage?

Baby deers were found in the vineyard. Surely they cannot be put to sleep. This is how we safeguard our plants and produce.

Deers, like many another animals, can be harmful to vineyards. They peel away the young sprouts and stuff themselves with grapes. This they do with boars, that, however, are not quite as cute.

One day we found a baby deer in the field, completely still, unable to move, pretending to be dead, responding to its instincts. Everyone’s heart at I Balzini skipped a beat. We decided to respect it and ignore it, working around it, until his mother came back to get him.

Nonetheless, deers can be damaging, diminishing wine production, but we take animals’ rights very seriously, and have found other ways to protect the vines.

This year we tried an organic olfactory repellent. Its is a liquid containing sheep fat. It is recognised as a substance belonging to those useable in organic agriculture, as it is inserted in the Banca Dati Fitofarmaci del Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali (Phytopharma Data Banks of the Ministry for Agricultural, Alimentary and Forest Politics). Highly repellent for deers, it is odourless for humans. So far it has been working, as there are no damages to the sprouts. For what concerns boars… we’ll think about it! Whatever is needed to safeguard our wines!

I BALZINI Pink Label, a rosé wine full of passion

Delightful to the eye, captivating in its fragrance, pleasing to the palate: a wine with a story to tell.

Rosé wines are often under-appreciated and relegated to the stereotype of being “women’s wines”. As we are told by a woman winemaker, Antonella D’Isanto, rosé is no inferior to red wines. It is just made differently. Whilst the grapes are the same for both red and rosé, the latter is left to ferment after pressing for a much shorter amount of time. Rosè is a type of wine with its own dignity, and very adaptable when it comes to food pairings.

At I Balzini, Antonella D’Isanto, who loves rosé, has designed her own with the collaboration of enologist Barbara Tamburini. They brought to life an intense nectar, with an exceptional scent, and reflecting the colors of the sunset over the vineyard. Thus, I BALZINI Pink Label was born, with a foundation of Sangiovese and a small percentage of Merlot to soften it. The grapes are harvested following phenolic ripeness in order to fortify the aroma of the wine. A soft pressing accompanies a four-hour long fermentation to obtain a strong pink shade. It possesses flowery scents, and suggestions of fruit and honey. At I Balzini, previous years’ bottles are preserved so to appreciate the wine’s ageing capabilities.

In mid-May, the association Donne del Vino has organized a fantastic event to promote this wine: Sorrento Rosé. Rosé winemakers will present their wines to introduce it to the public and demonstrate its adaptability in terms of pairing. Rosé, for instance, is perfect with pizza. Antonella D’Isanto, who will attend the event, and who is a great opera lover, often likes to imagine the great Enrico Caruso on that “old terrace facing the gulf of Surriento”. Next to him, a light, scented glass of rosé he would offer to a girl to console her tears before clearing his voice and singing.

In the cellar that strange upside down bottle

Not a day passes in which one of our visitors, curious to know what that strange glass object on top of our fermenting tanks and casks is, asks for an explanation. It is a closure which keeps the cask full and consequently prevents air to enter and expose the wine to damaging oxygen.
Composed entirely of glass, the object consists of two parts: the lower one is in contact with the wine below and communicates with the upper part through a ring-shpaed chamber, the second, above, is open to allow water to be poured in and is sealed with a closure which resembles and upside-down water glass, The device is inserted either in the opening on top of a tank or in the bunghole of the cask
Its first function is that of allowing the tank to be filled without opening it up and exposing the wine to oxygen. By observing the upper part, the transparence of the glass shows whether the wine has risen or if the level is descending, accordingly whether wine needs to be either added or run off. Wine is a substance which is alive, it tends to either increase or diminish in volume due to climatic or external influences, it grows in volume during the phase of the full moon and, viceversa, it descends during the phase of the waning moon. The other function is that of “bubbling”, i.e. of letting either gas or liquid to exit from the tank or cask without letting air enter.
There are varying hypotheses concerning the invention of the object; recent theories suggest it goes all the way back to Leonardo da Vinci but there are no documents which might confirm it. But is it possible to read authoritative texts, cited by that great oenologist Giacomo Tachis in his La vite e il vino dalle origini ai nostri giorni (The Vine and Wine from its Origins to Our Days) that we owe to the 19th century the invention of many important cellar instruments in the field of oenology. One is the grape crusher with rotating cylinders, invented by Doctor Romeni, and this crystal air lock invented by Monsignor Arcangeli.

I Balzini White Label a 1987 table wine that became a cult

Once upon a time there was “vino da tavola” (table wine), an appellation used in the past to define those wines produced outside of certain rules.
They were simple wines, without particular or significant characteristics, often destined to simple tables. They were products which, thanks to the qualitative force of some of its examples, brought to the birth of the definition, IGT (Geografica Tipica), then changed to the European Community category, IGP.
In 1980, Vincenzo D’Isanto, Florentine Business consultant, bought an estate in Barberino Val d’Elsa and created I Balzini winery, which produced “table wine”.
This came about from a passion and vocation which Vincenzo thought about patiently in order to create a wine that was characterized by personality and elegance.
It was a wine that forcefully expressed his own territory and brought out the best of those cliffs of tuff with a strong fossil presence.
1987 balzini 2And thus, after much experimenting, and advised by maestro Giulio Gambelli, Vincenzo created I Balzini White label 1987.
It was a blend of sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and canaiolo, matured in small Slavonia oak barrels, in 1991, four years from the first harvest. The wine was born of a hot and humid summer, which nurtured it with a harmonious mix of sun and rain.
I Balzini White Label 1987 is the first offering in a production chain that over the years has continuously renewed itself and diversified; all of this thanks to the will and audacity of Vincenzo, for whom it wasn’t enough to make a simple table wine.
We find the same audacity in his wife, Antonella D’Isanto , who has been running the company for 10 years, and on March 6 has taken away the dust off 5,230 of those bottles, conserved for 30 years with care and attention, to allow visitors at the “Terre di Toscana” to try it at a tasting.
This is a demonstration that devotion to your work goes from faith to choices, sometimes moved by thoughtful, studied evaluation, sometimes moved by a courageous bet.

thanks to Webmagazine WeChianti for the article.

Wine and Fashion Industry: an indissoluble marriage.

Italy in the world reaps international successes for fashion and wine. These branches provide a considerable added-value to our economy, involving fashion victims and wine lovers.
These two worlds come together, intersect each other, sometimes they speak a common sensory language. The sight, for example: Bordeaux is a kind of red tone that takes its name from the French Burgundy wines. Wine’s color changes over the years: here’s the Ruby, Garnet-red and the purple-red, wore by Medici’s Family during Reinaissance.

Latest fashion trends for the new spring are mostly inspired by floral themes: dresses with floral motifs of all kinds, shapes and sizes evoke those same aromas that can be found in a glass of wine. The sense of smell is inebriated with scents of violets, iris, rose, lavender and broom, a “corbeille” of heady scents.
The sense of touch: as well as the fingers caress the cloth, our imagination comes alive inspired by Pablo Neruda’s words “..smooth wine, like a soft velvet..”. All these emotions can be found in I BALZINI wines.
Wine and Faschion also share a word: vintage. To wear a designer clothes found in a thrift shops or paid dearly in a trendy store it is synonymous with elegance. Several fashion-addicted are prepared to pay astronomical sums to get hold of an original Chanel of the 40s. In the same ways, wine lovers look for old wine vintages in specialized wine shops or in high level auctions, like Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Pandolfini in Florence.

The wine’s world has conquered also many fashion designers who have become vigneron: Roberto Cavalli produces a wine bottled with his own distinctive style; Ferragamo’s family has a winery, Il Borro; Antonio Moretti is the owner of Tenuta Setteponti and he is also an entrepreneur in the fashion industry together Carshoe and Arfango; Stefano Ricci, owner of the homonymus brand, “dress” his bottles with cashmere. Out of Tuscany we can find Renzo Rosso, “Mr Diesel”, who produce wines using his name; Missoni have vineyards in Langhe and in Sicily; Brunello Cucinelli started to produce wine in order to be closer to a rural life.

What about a Valentine’s Day toast ?

Statistics show that lovers are used to choose the great Italian red wines. Maybe for the color? Red like passion, like fire, like wine… All of these things are very important in a love story.
Normally, for Valentine’s day, the lovers choose a restaurant or intimate place where to enjoy the wine, looking into the eyes by candlelight. In these occasions an elegant wine, pleasant to drink, makes the evening unforgettable. It fills the atmosphere of sensuality with its perfect balance and intense scents.
Lovers choice of wine creates a great feeling. Choose together is to share a moment of complicity. The lovers’ universe is large and varied, a famous aphorism says:
“A woman and a glass of wine meet every need, who does not drink or kissing is worse than dead” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)
Have a great Valentine’s day!!

Don’t waste wine it’s a treasure.

Wine is a precious good, it needs patience to be product and time to be aged.
A glass of wine has positive effects on the mind and the body: it contains polyphenols and bioflavonoids and these are good for your mood and keep away both negative effects of aging and some diseases. Then it’s fine to drink… but just if in moderation.
Taste it with the family and all friends and store it with care any remaining for the day after. There are new and efficient taps which allow to preserv the wine for some days.
You can also use it for cooking, we can suggest some recipes: for example, the Risotto a I Balzini!
Il risotto a I Balzini is enjoyable and tasteful, it hides a secret by Antonella D’Isanto in order to make the dish delicate and pleasurable.

Rice with I Balzini White Label

Serves 4
350 g Carnaroli rice
1 shallot
2 sausages
Stock as necessary
100 g boiled “cannellini” beans
1 glass of red wine I Balzini White Label
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Tuscan matured Pecorino cheese

Sauté minced shallot in oil on a low flame, then add chops and peeled sausages. Press the sausages with a fork; add the rice, sauté for 5 minutes stirring frequently, pour a glass of red wine I Balzini White Label and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Add some stock as needed and finish cooking. When it is almost done, add (this is Antonella D’Isanto secret!) some pressed Cannellini beans and combine all ingredients.
When cooked, let the rice sit for a couple of minutes and serve with flakes of Pecorino cheese.