Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brunello from Querce Bettina. Interview with winemakers

Ciao Roberto and Sandra. Thank you for your time and congratulations on the awards and accolades that your wines are receiving.

You’re welcome. We are delighted with the recognition our wines are receiving. It reflects a lot of hard work and discipline in ensuring that the real character of the grapes is reflected in the wine.

How did you find Querce Bettina?

On one weekend trip from Lucca over 20 years ago we met Silvano, the owner of the land of Querce Bettina. Silvano did not have sufficient money to develop the vineyard so he decided to sell the land. With this beautiful land in front of us, the sense of deep culture and the wonderful Brunello story we decided to buy the land in the short space of two hours. In the late 1990’s our first vines were planted and today we are producing some absolutely beautiful wines (of course I am biased).

When was the vineyard planted?

We planted our grapes in the 1999 and now as they mature they are getting better year by year. We expect our vines will be at their best over the next ten years. In any case each vintage has its own characteristic depending on maturation from the weather conditions. Tasting the latest two Brunello vintages we can say that the 2006 Brunello is more concentrated whilst the 2007 Brunello is more elegant and drinkable but it’s early and both wines will mature greatly over the next ten years. The 2008 and 2009 vintages were judged at four stars, so the market will expect lower performance from these wines.  Our opinion is that it depends on the age of the plants and the position of the vineyard.  We are happy with the quality and organic analysis of these wines and so we expect they will be good quality wines.  The vintage 2010 has all the substance to become better than 2006 but it is too early to say with any certainty. Some are saying that we need a five plus star rating to recognise years like 2010.

What sets your wines apart from others?

We have a strong belief that the quality of the grape is fundamental. We are blessed to have a Consorzia and DOCG regulations which provide the framework to make beautiful wines. Our prime attention is to produce healthy grapes and not to detract from that in making the wine. Our vineyard is perfectly located being 440 metres above sea level and south west of Montalcino. Facing south west allows the grapes to receive 14 hours of sunshine in summer and with the prevailing breezes this gives us a natural protection from mould. With quality grapes we minimize the artificial impact in the conversion to wine. We use minimal sulphur and copper and we avoid any process of pasteurization, filtration and clarification. We use hygienic processes and high quality oak barrels which have been toasted and aged.

Have your vintages changed over the years?

Of course they will change depending on the climate conditions leading up to the maturation of the grapes. But having said that we are very proud of all our vintages. 2004 was a special year for Querce Bettina with our Brunello rated 95 points. 2006 and 2007 will also be great years for our wines. In 2012 we will release our 2007 Brunello and a special Riserva from 2006.

We quite like the Rosso you produce and you seem to be receiving great comments on this wine?

The Rosso di Montalcino has always been considered by the market as a second choice after Brunello. But for Querce this is not so. Our Rosso wines have the same quality grapes as the Brunello. The Querce Bettina Rosso di Montalcino has the same treatment as the Brunello with the only changes being the period of ageing in the oak.  For the Brunello the wine matures over 36 months in large barrels of 2200 litres of Slovenian oak and for the Rosso we mature it for two years in 500 litre barrels of French oak coming from the region of Allier. The French Oak gives us a different tasting characteristic from the Slovenian oak. The DOCG requirement for Rosso is that it must remain in the bottle for at least 12 months after bottling whilst the Brunello is 24 months. 

We release our Rosso’s much later than other producers as we consider it to be a wonderful maturing wine. That is why today we are selling our 2006 and 2007 Rosso wines whilst other producers have already distributed these vintages. The maturing Rosso has all the attributes of becoming a “Brunellino”.

What are the first wines you will be bringing into Australia?

Through our sole agent, Italian Wine Importers, we will be bringing our wine from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages. The Brunello di Montalcino from 2005 and 2006 and the Rosso di Montalcino from 2006 and 2007

When will we see you both in Australia?

Soon hopefully. We now have three grandchildren with another one on the way and maybe one of them will become the next head at Querce Bettina one day. We feel blessed to be able to produce this wonderful wine and thank God for giving us a second life. To all our Australian friends we say thank you for listening to our story and sharing our wine. We also look forward to welcoming you at the Querce Bettina estate one day.

Ciao Roberto e Sandra.