Tag Archives: Collio

Bressan in Friuli – “Ingredients” for Making Great Wine

16 Oct

The philosophy/approach to wine and life at Bressan (Friuli, Italy) includes always striving to make better wine. In principle, this is simple…grow good grapes and turn them into good wine. On the other hand, many details go into making great wine. During our visit to Bressan, Fulvio explained many things they do that not only are different from most wineries but also make a lot of sense. What follows is a few of the things we gleaned during our visit, for those of you who are interested in some of the arcane details of wine making.

The winery has been in the family for 300 years. Bressan has land in the Collio (“ponka” soil with calcium) where we visited, and other land with iron in the soil (”ferrettizzato”), which Fulvio says is good for red wine.

We walked among some Pinot Noir vines (see picture of Lori and Jelena between vine rows) and tasted the fruit….the seeds

Lori and Jelena in the Vineyard

were brown, indicating the grapes were almost ready to pick…the seeds shouldn’t taste green. They use both sensory and scientific means to decide when to pick the grapes.

As you can see, grass is not allowed to grow in the rows between the vines because after 4-5 years it becomes a carpet that absorbs water, keeping it near the surface. This would cause the roots to grow toward the surface, which would be dangerous to the vines in a dry year. The roots should be encouraged to grow deep into the ground. Also, Bressan trims the vines early before the grapes grow, so there’s no need to green harvest…”do it right the first time!” Also, the vines live longer if the harvest is kept small….it takes up to 25 years for a vine to produce good grapes, and their vines are up to 120 years old.

To protect the plants, they use natural types of sulphur and copper that only are on the surface of the leaves. In contrast, most wineries use systemic materials that are absorbed into the plant/vine, into their “blood”. Also, they do all the picking by hand, selecting the grapes to be used in the wine as they pick….”It’s stupid to divide it into two steps, picking and then selecting later.”

Their vines have only two branches, one with the grapes for the current year, which will be removed after the harvest and the second one for grapes the following year, with a new branch kept for the ensuing year. Every 5 years they put horse manure in the ground in the middle half way between the rows….it trickles slowly in either direction to fertilize the vines over time.

The ceiling in the winery is painted (by hand) with products from macerated grapes. Bressan uses only indigenous yeast, and the yeast in the paint on the ceiling promotes the generation of the desired. The painting is done by hand since spraying would kill the yeast.

They use stainless steel for fermentation, as wood breathes too much – in typical winemaking a dried barrel from a previous year will cause a reaction if used to make more wine. He feels barrels are a vehicle for oxidation, and uses a saline solution in new barrels to season them. He also uses glass lined cement containers instead of barrels for some of his wine. On the other hand, Fulvio believes wood barrels can be used to add/influence the taste in a wine. For instance, he uses a specific type of cherry barrel for his unusual Pignola wine, and uses acacia barrels mostly for white wine (acacia is used in making sauternes). Mulberry barrels are versatile, finding use in both red and white wines. Silk was once produced in Friuli, with Mulberry leaves the food, so barrels were plentiful. Not any more; Fulvio has barrels made especially for Bressan. The wood for the mulberry barrels is cut with an axe along the direction of the grain…cross-cutting with a saw would close the grain. Fabrication of the Stainless Steel tanks is with cold welding to eliminate possible effects from hot welded metal, and the feet of the tanks are insulated to prevent galvanic effects….talk about attention to detail! The result is great wines!

For more on Bressan, go to     http://www.bressanwines.com/