In my attempt to visit as many of the small, independent wineries in Soave (there are not as many as you might think!) the next on my list was Le Battistelle.
The house and cellar for Le Battistelle are located near the village of Brognoligo, in the heart of the Soave Classico DOC, but on the eastern-facing side of the Soave hills.
Gelmino’s family has been working these vineyards for decades but it’s only been since 2002 that they started making and bottling their wines, rather than selling the grapes to the local co-operative.
He, his wife, Cristina (pictured above), and son, Andrea (below), showed me around.
Within the first few minutes, you realise that this is a small, entirely family-run entreprise, crafting completely hand-made wines. They have 9 hectares of vineyards of pure garganega, split between four different plots on the surrounding volcanic hills. These vineyards are perched on such steep slopes that most are impossible to pass through with a tractor.
Gelmino and Cristina strive to work without chemicals in the vineyard as far as possible, but are not certified organic because they want to maintain the possibility of using something stronger than copper in a bad year.
The vineyards are so precipitous that they become very dangerous after heavy rainfall (which is unfortunately when bugs and other nasties tend to propagate) and to be doing treatments every other day is simply not realistic.
This is apparently the “easy” vineyard!
Because the work in the vineyards is so laborious, the vinification in the cellar is very simple. There are just three wines: the most basic (“Montesei”), a reserve (“Le Battistelle”) and one with two days of skin contact (“Roccolo Del Durlo”). When the grapes arrive in the cellar, they are destemmed and pressed. The temperature-controlled fermentations take place in stainless steel with selected yeasts. The top two wines will stay on the fine lies for 6-8 months with regular batonnage.
Gelmino doesn’t have any wooden barrels and he doesn’t let the malolactic fermentation occur, meaning that the wines retain their fresh, fruity character and remain crisp and mineral. A perfectly classic Soave Classico.
What I haven’t mentioned yet (I’m saving the best for last!) is the age of the vines at Le Battistelle – some are a spectacular 100 years old! The bulbous base of the plant emerging from the volcanic rock, amongst all the fallen leaves and the pruned branches, was a treat to see.
As I’m tentatively making my way through the vineyard in pursuit of the perfect vine, Cristina tells me about an association (CERVIM) specialised in “mountain and steep slope viticulture.” Very deservingly, two of their single vineyards Le Battistelle and Roccolo del Durlo have been classified as “heroic viticulture.”
As a permanent reminder, the logo for Le Battistelle is a shoulder harness with two baskets, which was used until only very recently to carry out grapes from their vineyards.
The terracing makes it impossible to go through with a tractor.
Visit the website: http://www.lebattistelle.it/
Le Battistelle are also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Visited: 5th December 2016
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