Category: Prosecco diaries

ALMA was pouring our 2015 ColFòndo when we visited last November: Prosecco Diaries

November 2017 was a busy month for us!

ALMA, the cooking school in Colorno (Parma), was a highlight this month.

November, as always, is the month when we stay away from the vineyards in order to concentrate our efforts on the wines and our clients.

Every day, we taste the wines in our cellar and we compare notes as we determine what’s the best path forward.

The wines are taking a lot of time to clarify this year. But there are doing fine otherwise.

They have a lot of structure and balanced mineral character, the two common denominators for this vintage.

The other thing that we will remember about the 2017 vintage is that this year, we have a few empty tanks because of the spring frost.

As always, we wait until November to talk about how are wines are doing. And we are happy to report that we are really pleased with this year’s results.

November 1: The beloved hills of Asolo, the Colli Assolani.

colli asolani asolo docg

November 2: We were mentioned in Spirito di Vino!

“We recommend tasting the 2015 Prosecco ColFòndo by Bele Casel. It has aromas of pear and white peach. Very approachable in the mouth, this light wine has a savory and fruit flavors. Made using Glera grapes and other varieties native to the Asolo hills like Bianchetta, Perera, Rabbiosa, and Marzemina Bianca, this wine is farmed organically. And it has the classic cloudiness.”

spirito di vino bele casel asolo

November 3: We just rack once. The wines are taking a while to clarify. But they will get there in time.

base spumante asolo prosecco docg

November: Monfumo in all its splendor.

monfumo bele casel

November 8: Thanks to Seth for this wonderful photo, taken in one of our favorite restaurants in Honolulu, The Pig and the Lady.

colfondo honolulu bele casel

“Wait, what? At first glance, this was a curious pairing. Prosecco, native to Veneto in northern Italy, is a light, dry sparkling wine with bright expressive aromas and flavors of green apple, honeydew melon, pear, and honeysuckle. With all of this fruit bursting from the glass, prosecco usually presents rather sweet. Not the first wine to come to mind for this rich, earthy, creamy course.”

“This wine, however, was no ordinary prosecco. The Bele Casel Colfòndo Prosecco uniquely utilizes a fermentation process similar to the Champagne method, with secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle (rather than large tanks typical for prosecco). In a diversion from the Champagne method, the yeast is not disgorged and instead remains in the bottle until consumed. As a result, the wine possessed complex flavors of fruit and earthiness, with a texture that paired excellently with the creamy mushroom filling and flaky pastry. In typical prosecco style, the finish was dry, cleansing the palate and leaving you ready for the next course.”

The above comes from the blog Musings by the Glass.

November 10: We had a magnificent evening with Saggi Bevitori (the “Wise Drinkers”). We were able to share Bele Casel’s story with more than 60 wine lovers.

Thank you, Saggi Bevitori!

November 19: Unearthed wines, 2017, Helsinki. People seemed to love the ColFòndo 2016 and the Extra Brut.

bele casel helsinki

Thank you Vinonostrum!

November 20: Bele Casel and Aqua Crua at ALMA in Colorno. An evening hosted by the international culinary school there. They happened to be pouring our 2015 ColFòndo, which was showing beautifully.

bele casel alma colorno

November 21: We start pruning in our Caerano vineyard. We can see the damage created by the spring freeze. It’s going to be the thing that this vintage is remembered for. That’s a cane ruined by the freeze when it had 3-4 buds on it.

 

November 25: The Mercato dei Vini is finally here! It’s the biggest fair we take part in and so we need some big wheels!

mercato fivi bele casel

Harvest is over but there’s plenty of work to do in the vineyard: Prosecco Diaries October

Unusual weather conditions have added to the work we need to do in the vineyard.

Harvest is finally over but that doesn’t mean that everything slows down at the winery and that we can look forward to long days with nothing to do but relax. In fact, this year, things got really busy right away.

We spent numerous days working in our Pra’ Grande vineyard this month. We shored up the rows and we planted cover crops. We fixed up the stakes and iron wires. And we fixed the anchors and the ties.

We were a little worried because we are experiencing yet another dry month. The plants will have trouble budding and the ground needs to be damp. Instead the soil is totally dry.

Unusually high temperatures have caused the grasses to grow. And we were forced to mow very late in the year.

We continue to fertilize using only manure. And this year we scattered the manure through the vineyard. We decided to do it like this because we want to compare the results with those from last year when we only distributed the manure beneath the vines themselves.

October 5: The work in the Pra’ Grande vineyard continues.

vigna pra' grande monfumo

Shoring up the iron wires in the rows.

lavori vigna pra' grande

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the “yellow soil of our Pra’ Grande vineyard”…

terra gialla pra' grande

October 6: Fall/Winter Collection 2018. Bepi, who guards our Pra’ Grande vineyard, gets a new look.

bepi monfumo pra' grande

October 10: Regular maintenance.

bepi guardiano vigna pra' grande

October 14: The annual Slow Wine tasting where the award-winners present their wines.

slow wine bele casel montecatini

October 20: A ColFòndo tasting presented by Stefano Caffari.

degustazione colfondo ais caffarri

degustazione prosecco colfondo

October 20: When you look carefully at the landscape in Asolo where we grow our grapes, you realize that Asolo and Valdobbiadene have more things in common than you would think.

morfologia colli asolani

25 Ottobre: Sfalcio erba a Monfumo, come sempre manual

October 25: We mow between the rows in Monfumo. As always, the mowing is done manually.

sfalcio erba monfumo

autunno vigna monfumo



Spring freeze and fall rainfall aside, September delivered a solid harvest. Prosecco Diaries…

The 2017 harvest turned out better than we expected.

The spring freeze had us really worried. But in the end 2017 turned out to be a very good vintage for us.

With the arrival of September 2017 came the harvest and the wonderful satisfaction of a new vintage in the cellar. Despite the fact that we lost an entire vineyard with the April freeze, the harvest went a lot better than what we expected. After the rainfall during the first week of the month, the grapes were plump, full of flavor and mineral character.

We started earlier than usual on September 1 and we finished on September 14 just before the rain started to fall again. Had we not picked when we did, the rain could have caused problems in terms of mildew and rot in the vineyards.

It was a very swift harvest with acidity levels dropping quickly day after day. We worked as hard as we could to get as much fruit to the cellar as possible in the shortest amount of time. It was a complicated vintage but not as difficult as the 2014 harvest, which was affected by rain, the 2015 vintage, which was affected by drought, or the 2016 vintage, when there was an outbreak of peronospora.

September 1: The 2017 harvest begins.

vendemmia 2016 prosecco

September 4: There’s no greater reward than a beautiful bunch of Glera grapes!

grappolo glera asolo prosecco

That afternoon we began picking by hand in our Cornuda vineyard.

September 6: When we saw the weather forecast, we shifted over to our Alessandra vineyard, in Castelli di Monfumo.

le pendenze non sono di certo d’aiuto

September 7: We had to take a break because of rain. What’s better than a game of cards to bolster our team spirit?

pausa vendemmia prosecco

September 8: A bucket of Glera grapes.

secchi glera prosecco asolo superiore

We stayed up all night long working the press.

September 13: For the second year in a row, we received word that we were awarded the Snail prize by the editors of the Slow Wine Guide, their top prize. We also won a Slow Wine prize. We couldn’t be happier!

bele casel chiocciola slow wine

In the meantime, we continued to pick grapes in Monfumo.

vendemmia monfumo bianchetta

vendemmia manuale monfumo prosecco

September 14: We finished harvesting the 2017 crop just 5 minutes before the rain started to fall!

vendemmia pioggia asolo docg

September 22: We returned to our vineyard in Monfumo. This time we weren’t in a hurry. ☺

September 27: The period following the harvest is relatively slow for us. We took advantage of the lull to work on farm machinery and our tool shack.

manutenzione post vendemmia prosecco

manutenzione post vendemmia bele casel

Rainfall in July made us hold our breath! Prosecco Diaries

Rainfall, when heavy, can wash away a year’s worth of work in the blink of an eye.

July was a warm and particularly dry month that kept us holding our breath. We were very fortunate: The month’s heavy rainstorms only did limited damage in our vineyards.

Being a grape grower means being conscious of the fact that a year’s worth of work could be washed away in just an instant. This is why every time there is a forecast for rainfall, our anxiety levels climbs and everything in our family’s life comes to a halt. We all hold our breath until the worst has past.

July 1 – We need to manage the vegetation. It becomes a problem when a plant falls on a vine following inclement weather.

cura del territorio

July 2 – Today is our Fiat 500’s 60th birthday! 60 years since this popular car was introduced, a symbol of the economic revival in Italy after World War II.

fiat cinquecento asolo prosecco

July 6 – OpenDream was an art, culture, food and wine festival in Treviso. They used an abandoned industrial space for the event.

area ex pagnossin treviso prosecco

July 7 – Tilling our Prà Grande vineyard in Monfumo.

fresatura vigna bio asolo bele prà grande

Speaking of the anxiety that comes when there are rainclouds on the horizon, an awful storm literally grazed the hill where we have our vineyard in Cornuda. The photo comes via Meteo Bassano e Pedemontana del Grappa.

grandine prosecco

July 12 – Labels for magnums of our Extra Dry are always applied by hand.

etichette a mano prosecco extra dry docg

July 13 – It’s not just about vines! One of the important things about “zero kilometer” foodways is teaching future generations about the importance of the land. Just like our parents and grandparents taught us. It’s thanks to them that we are here today to tell our story.

non solo vigna

July 17 – As our friend Camillo likes to say: There’s a difference between Prosecco with a capital P and prosecchino. Only a fool would think otherwise. (Pure, playful, confident, and ready to go. A beauty!)

colfondo bele casel

July 24 – The sky over Monfumo after the umpteenth storm.

cielo monfumo

July 28 – Today’s harvest was celery, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers from our garden.

orto biologico

July 31 – Save the date! FIVI Wine Fair in Piacenza November 25-26.

mercato fivi bele casel

Climate change is making our work more challenging every year: Prosecco Diaries June 2017

Climate is changing in our neck of the woods. The rapid and extreme changes in weather are examples of that.

June was a very warm month, with temperatures higher than average. Conditions in the vineyards are relatively stable and there aren’t any major problems with vine disease.

At any rate, our work is becoming more and more challenging, year after year. We are learning to live with long periods of drought and sudden storms with lots of rainfall. At least that’s what it feels like.

June 1: That’s Terry and Greg Moore. Terry is Greg’s son and Greg is one of the founders of Moore Brothers Wine Company. They presented our wines at a tasting held at their wine shop in Brooklyn (Industry City) in New York.

Moore Brothers colfondo

Terry & Greg Moore: “ColFondo from Bele Casel was a huge hit!”

June 4: 50mm of rain in our Cornuda vineyard fell over just a few hours, after a long period of drought.

pioggia asolo docg

June 10: The Porta San Tomaso (Gate) in Treviso, one of the most beautiful city gates along the 16th-century walls of the city.

It was a real honor for us to be invited to the Telegraph Prosecco Festival, which was organized by Susy Atkins, a writer for the Sunday Telegraph’s “Stella” magazine. She has authored numerous books and she appears regularly as a wine expert on the BBC show “Sunday Kitchen.”

telegraph prosecco festival

June 12: Colfòndo tasting at the Banca del Vino (Slow Food Wine Bank) in Piedmont.

Bele Casel Asolo Prosecco Colfòndo 2015: “The vineyards, surrounded by pristine woods and landscapes, express all of their distinct character through this savory wine with delightful citrus notes.”

June 14: Our beautiful vineyard in Cornuda.

rose asolo docg vigna

June 22: Glera bunches in Cornuda.

grappoli di glera docg

June 22: A death’s head hawkmoth caterpillar that will soon transform into a moth, known for its “skull of death” marking on its torso. This type of moth is becoming more and more rare because of the insecticide used here and because of the light pollution that apparently disturbs its reproduction and its sense of direction.

Acherontia atropos

June 23: Tomorrow the Rally della Marca race will pass by our vineyards. And so we’re revving our engines in the meantime!

rally della marca monfumo prosecco

June 27: Our Colfòndo was chosen as wine of the week by Cronache di Gusto.

The FIVI fair is one of our favorite events of the year: Prosecco Diaries November

Just like every year, November is a month when we recharge so that we can begin one of the most important parts of our work: Pruning. And without a doubt, the best way to recharge is to participate in the FIVI wine fair. It’s one of those homes away from home for us, a place where we catch up with many of our friends. Here’s what else happened in November.

November 8: The sky over our vineyard in Cornuda.

vigna prosecco docg

November 18: Our Prosecco Extra Dry at Kona Wine Market in Hawaii.

prosecco bele casel hawaii

November 21: Nice coverage of Bele Casel by the Italian national daily newspaper Il Giornale.

stile il giornale

bele casel stile il giornale

November 26: The Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers (FIVI) fair in Piacenza.

bele casel fivi

November 30: We begin pruning in our Cornuda vineyard.

potatura asolo docg

Cover crops: No rest for grape growers! Prosecco Diaries October

A lot of people think that once the harvest is done our work is through until we begin pruning again. But that’s not the case.

The month of October is important for our vines, especially for our vineyards in Cornuda, where we spray, mow the grasses, and do the work between the rows using a tractor.

October is time for cover crops!

As you can see in the video below, there’s a big difference between the ground where the tractor has passed over and the ground at the center of the row. The clods are more compact where the wheels have passed over the ground. And they are definitely less dense where the wheels don’t pass over the ground. It gives us great statisfaction to see that our efforts, however small, are making a difference. Even the denser clods are rich with small flowers and they are full of earthworms. They are indication of the soil’s richness. And they help to aerate, drain, and increase the quality of the soil.

October 4: We finally received the seeds for the cover crops fro 2016. This year we are going to start a project called “the colors of the land.” Stay tuned for some beautiful images!

sovescio asolo docg

October 5: We begin preparing the Cornuda vineyard for the cove crops. It’s really important for the soil in this vineyard.

The four phases are as follows:

1. We till the soil deep enough to drain out the water and to make it easier for the tractor to pass through.
2. We aerate the soil.
3. We prepare the mixture of seeds. The blend we have selected improves the soil structure. And since there are a number of flower seeds included, it is great for beekeeping.
4. We plant the seeds by hand so that we can avoid making the soil more compact by passing over it again with the tractor.

October 6: This is what happens to the soil when you till and aerate to prepare it to be planted with cover crop seeds. This is what we do to make our soil more fertile.

October 7: We plant the cover crop seeds by hand.

sovescio prosecco docg

October 11: Just under a year ago, we bought an old and poorly maintained vineyard. It breaks are hearts to grub up these old dry vines that don’t bear any fruit anymore. But new vines will grow in their place in this splendid growing site.

vigna vecchia monfumo

October 21: We grub up dead vines on the hillside. This has to be done by hand using a spade.

sostituzione viti monfumo

October 22: Monfumo at dawn.

alba monfumo prosecco docg

October 25: We’ve completed our work on the soil. Now we need to fix up broken stakes and wires.

lavori vigna prosecco docg

Slow Wine Snail and other good news in September: Prosecco Diaries

September was harvest month and it was also a period in which we received some great news.

The grapes are fantastic this year. The acidity is healthy, as are the sugar levels. The grapes tasty and even have a nearly salty flavor to them. We have really great expectations for this vintage.

Complete ripening that took place in different phases allowed us to manage our harvest with just the right pace and without any major problems.

We were thrilled to share the news that our family and Bele Casel in its entirety has won the Slow Wine Snail award for the second year in a row.

It’s hard to explain how proud we are. On October 15, we attended the official presentation of the Slow Wine guide in Montecatini, where all the winners poured their wines, including us.

September 5 – We taste the grapes to determine whether or not our impressions are correct.

glera asolo docg

September 7 – Our winery is featured in Saveur .

saveur magazine colfondo

September 8 – The harvest begins.

vendemmia prosecco asolo docg

We have some very important helpers this year. They are the third generation of Bele Casel.

vendemmia prosecco asolo

September 10 – We have the great honor of spending a day with Melissa Brauer aka The Prosecco Queen who came directly from Australia. In July 2015 she wrote that Bele Casel is one of the best examples of Prosecco from Italy (photo taken at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne), perfectly balanced, not too sweet, with notes of pear and a slightly creamy texture. “Delicious!” she wrote.

prosecco bele casel australia

September 12 – We are already getting ready for the November wine fair.

bele casel fivi

September 14 – The last load of Glera grapes for the day.

vendemmia glera

September 15 – It’s evening and another day of picking is done. The press has finished its cycle and now it’s time for it to be washed.

pressatura prosecco

September 16 – Another work day begins.

vendemmia prosecco

September 19 – Bianchetta trevigiana.

bianchetta trevigiana

And Perera from our Monfumo vineyard.

perera

It seems that working in the Monfumo vineyard has its benefits!

vendemmia manuale prosecco

September 21 – We thought this would be our last day of picking but it turned out not to be…

vendemmia prosecco

So we took time out to wash our tanks.

pulizia vasche

Snails and rain in the vineyard: Prosecco Diaries June

Snails are a great sign in the vineyards. It means that there are no chemicals. But rain creates big challenges for organic farmers like us.

June was a really difficult month for us. Rain every day, concentrated mostly in the afternoons. We are talking about 200mm of rainfall in 30 days. And I remind you that 255mm fell in May.

We were only able to spray the vines when the weather permitted us to enter into the vineyards planted to Glera. Problems on the bunches, due to so many hours of being wet, began to emerge.

We trained the vineyards and trimmed the canopy making sure to aerate the bunches. Those who practice organic farming have to make this type of vineyard management a priority.

It rained during flowering. And it rained during fruit-set. We are very concerned.

The challenge to deliver a great Asolo Prosecco docg Superiore has only just begun.

June 2 – Happy Italian Republic Day!

festa repubblica vigneto

June 6 – A lot of rain in a short period of time. This is the result: A small landslide in our vineyard in Monfumo.

frana monfumo

June 10 – We’ll let you in on a little secret. This is why grape growers stay so slim.

13412163_1205518642812105_2736304522979857133_o

June 11 – A magnum of our ColFòndo paired with oysters at one of our favorite wine shops, Biondivino in San Francisco.

colfondo ostriche

June 13 – Snails in the vineyards. Maybe it’s because we were awarded the Slow Wine “snail” prize last year?

chiocciola slow wine glera

June 14 – Here’s a photo of that damned peronospora.

peronospora glera asolo

June 16 – We finished “topping” (i.e., trimming) the canopy of the vines in Cornuda. Sometimes it’s a real luxury to be able to work seated atop a tractor.

cimatura glera

June 30 – The order for Moore Brothers is ready to go!

asolo prosecco usa

Peronospora (downy mildew) is very hard for organic farmers like us to combat in vintages like this

Peronospora (downy mildew) is extremely difficult to combat if you don’t use chemicals in the vineyards.

After the 2013 vintage, which will be remembered for the concentrated rainfall in the spring, the 2014 vintage was truly horrible because of the never-ending rains at the end of the growing season. The 2015 vintage was marked by intense drought and very high summer temperatures. I’ll remember the 2016 vintage as one of the most challenging for growers who farm organically (you can follow the vintage month by month by keeping up with our winery vintage diary).

I spent a lot of time pondering over whether or not I should write this post. They say that a good salesperson should only talk about the company’s successes.

But I’m a believer in sincerity and transparency and this is why I have chosen to share this not-so-pleasant aspect of the work that we do.

The months of June and July were devastating. The rain really put our preparedness, our vineyards, and our monitoring of the vines to the test.

Until a few weeks ago, we were still very happy with the work we were doing. The amount of copper we were spraying was (and still is) within a healthy limit. Our goal in reducing the use of copper had been achieved and the percentage of damaged bunches was acceptable. This was probably due to the fact that in the area affected by rain, 10-20 percent of the spots on the leaves had been blocked thanks to the use of a natural product (K&A Oomisine). All in all, the vines were healthy.

But today, after the umpteenth visit to the vineyards, we realized that the situation is getting worse and our hearts just sank into the abyss.

We have fought using the few weapons that were available to us. But evidently, copper and terroir and know-how weren’t enough in a vintage like this one.

Our vineyards in Monfumo, Maser, and 3 of the six hectares in Cornuda have small, insignificant problems (for the moment). The remaining vineyards have serious peronospora damage as you can see from the bunch in the photograph.

The only thing we can do now is to try to stop the infection with a couple of back-to-back treatments in the hope that the copper, when applied in greater but still reasonable amounts, doesn’t create problems for the vegetation.

Organic farming in vintages like this one forces us to come to terms with the indisputable fact that the force of Mother Nature — my goodness — is not easy to counter.

We need to accept our partial defeat and we need to keep on learning.

And as my friend Paolo says, “you made it through 2014 and you’ll make through 2016 as well. Then you will become old and wise and then you will die. That’s how it always is. Paranoia doesn’t do anyone any good.”