Our wines, regardless of the grape variety, are recognisable even in different vintages because they develop peculiar notes - in the aroma and in the structure - strictly connected to this terroir. I advocate that this is related to the fact that our plants grow in a natural environment and therefore they can express the geological and chemical structure of the soil.
For instance, since the very beginning, I truly wanted to preserve the original flora: flowers, herbs, the micro-flora and the mycorrhiza developed in the centuries before. To maintain this biodiversity we did not plough the land by turning it upside down but we simply moved the compact land to permit oxygenation.
There are two different approaches into vinification:
Podere Le Ripi strongly believes and belongs to the second group: WE DO NOT INTERVENE. This does not mean we avoid doing everything we can to grow the best grapes possible. Of course we do. We are biodynamic, we pull off the weeds either by machine or by hand with the hoe. In addition to that we use the best Vosgi oak to ferment and refine our wines in. We DO NOT add anything to our soil, meaning no products of chemical industry origins. So that in turn we don't risk adding anything to our wines. Exceptions made for copper and sulphur, that have been used in viticulture for centuries.
We feel that it’s our duty to preserve this wonder as we found it for the next generations. By applying the biodynamic protocols, we avoid chemicals and we prefer the manual work to any easy solution. We believe that this farming practice is an upright choice for healthier wines with stronger personality and wonderful aromas: we feel the joy when we drink them and we know this joy is shared by our clients too.
It’s been a volcano until 700.000 years ago. This big mountain in the middle of Tuscany has a strong influence on how the weather moves around here. Clouds tend to “move around” the Amiata and so many times it rains or worse when it hail all around and it doesn’t at Podere Le Ripi.
But also the thermal excursion that we enjoy in Le Ripi is partially thanks to this mountain that originates cool descending winds at night and creates thermal ascending winds during the day: it’s not normal, around here, to have nights at 18°C (64°F) and days at 35°C (95°F), but at Le Ripi it happens every summer… and it makes our grapes more aromatic.
Our soil is composed of:
Clay, which is very often mixed with sodium, so that this clay is often salty
Tuff and siliceous sand compressed by geological pressures.
Limestone boulders rounded down from centuries of sees and rivers waters.
Beige sandstone that sometimes is also bluish, when it’s younger
So we have all kinds of possible minerals contained in the soil, and if one thinks that the Monte Amiata, which is as near as 7 nautical miles, is an ancient volcano, sediments of volcanic debris must be in the soil too.
Economically as emotionally we are involved with our people and we feel like a team of friends. Most of them have been working with us for many many years and they are very proud of the wines they make with us. Particularly Sebastian (our oenologist) and Alessandro (our agronomist): we love to have lunches and dinners together discussing our wines and comparing them with others.
Sometimes the fog forces us to wait because too much dew moist the grape's berries. We halt until it evaporates and then we harvest as fast as possible since we do not want our grapes to warm up in the sun. We try to gather in two different stages: first the ripe grapes and few days after the ones that required more ripening. Nevertheless the yield is very poor, 3.000 kilograms per hectare, and the maturation is almost uniform.
If some grapes are slightly ahead in the maturation process, they will bring to the most sugars and tannins. Others slightly less ripe will balance out with a great acidity and big aromas. We pay attention in order to avoid the unripe grapes, giving to the wine bitter tannins, also called "green tannins". They release into the wines a rough and greenish sensation. For this reason I always fight against the weather: we need to be brave and wait. In September and October it is common to see the weather getting worse and be obliged to wait until the rain is reabsorbed by the plants. We know, if the grapes are not perfectly ripe we will make defective wines. And so we find courage!