September is the most difficult month, perhaps because waiting is the most tiring work of all. There is little left to do in the vineyard, and you need to wait for the moment in which you can begin the harvest, with the dangers of rain and hailstorms always looming. It might seem like the time has come to harvest, but still you must have the patience to wait for those last few degrees that will accumulate in the last weeks. Through the refractometers that measure the sugars, we look to confirm what we’ve already started to guess through tasting.
LORENZO E FEDERICO SCHELLINO AZIENDA ANNA MARIA ABBONA
The maturation of the grape is not just about the sugars, but is rather a whole array of elements that must reach peak maturation, before the freshest aromas are lost to over-ripening. One of these elements are the polyphenols and tannins that in dolcetto are mostly found in the seeds. We can have a high gradation thanks to the rapid drying of the grapes, but the tannins can still be unripe and giving a vegetal taste. Some producers believe that the the grapes have reached optimal maturity when the seeds are completely hardened and dark, and this matters more to them than any analysis.
GIANLUCA DE MARIA AZIENDA COZZO
Those who are very experienced can recognize the ripeness of the grapes just by tasting them - sensing the sweetness, acidity, maturity of the tannins in the skins and seeds that they crunch between their teeth to taste – without having to do any other tests. It’s a question of knowing how to sense the balance and harmony of the elements – a sense that increases with the number of harvests that you have behind you.
MASSIMO MARTINELLI BRICCO MOLLEA
The acidity is also an important factor in the picture of maturation. Sometimes a sense of higher acidity in the grapes could be due to a greater presence of malic acid, which upon fermentation transfers into lactic acid, which is less aggressive. Other times, depending on the season, the tartaric acid could be more or less present in the must compared with the quantity measured in the grapes, because it tends to rise and fall.
MATTEO SARDAGNA PODERI L. EINAUDI
In addition, the color and intensity of the skins gives us an indication of the grapes’ maturity. The anthocyanins of which dolcetto is extremely rich – coloring the leaves and tips during growth - are more easily extractable from the cell walls of the skins the more mature the grape.