Querciabella, Vegan Farming, and Bee Biodynamics

Agricola Querciabella, Greve in Chianti.

Allow me to translate this for you.  Have you ever walked into a retail wine shop and did a double take on the beautiful black and white label of three different Italian chefs (drawing by Bernardino Luino)?  This is Querciabella, the wine that you had to buy because it was exactly what you were looking for in an Italian wine label.

Or this was me, ten years ago, looking for my favorite Italian wines without doing any research, and of course I picked this one. . . and it made me feel like I was the "sh*t," the top dog, who knew how to pick wines.  It delivered.  I was living in Northern California, at that time obsessed with American Pinot Noirs.  We all have our own wine history, and I am happy to share, years later after drinking my first bottle of Querciabella, my tour through their vineyards.

(left) wife of Federic Pianta, Stephanie Cuadra, Massimiliano Giovannoni, and resident oenologist Guido De Santi

I was sitting one gorgeous lunch afternoon at Maialino (wine director Liz Nicholson), drinking Poggio di Sotto, Rosso di Montalcino, by the quartino(s) with the amazing Arlyn Blake, publisher of the FOODcalendar, and right next to our table was Andrea Aparicio, Roberto Lasorte, and Stephanie Cuadra, the Querciabella team, celebrating a birthday and drinking of course, Querciabella.

gorgeous Querciabella vineyards, Greve in Chianti.  If you look closely you can see the alternating vegetation in between vineyard rows
Arlyn initiated introduction and that is how I met Stephanie Cuadra, director of marketing, who invited me to visit the vineyards.  I have always loved Querciabella; in the past even had a love affair with their Batar, a blend of chardonnay and pinot bianco, when they were pouring it by the glass at Dell'Anima (wine director and co-owner Joe Campanale) in the West Village. . . but I was even more intrigued when Stephanie told me they have been biodynamic since 2000 and organic since 1988.  This I did not know, and am always impressed to find out when "big" wineries take this step.  In addition, the Querciabella team were in town for the opening of a new Stella McCartney store.  From Querciabella News, "Querciabella and Stella McCartney join forces about ethical choices in luxury."
Not only is Querciabella biodynamic, but they take a vegan approach as well and do not use any animal products.

Happy and Healthy Tuscan Soil
Whenever I visit biodynamic farms, whether it's just in my head, I always notice a stronger energy force, a synergy between the earth, the dirt, the living plants, and the bugs, especially the bees.  There is a motion, a pattern if you will, that is cyclical with the seasons and you can feel it moving around you.  Check out Querciabella's bee biodynamic campaign.

Oenologist Guido De Santi with their serious hard core grape destemmer

Check out this Destemming Video showing the above machine in action.

"Maceration takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats where the grapes undergo alcoholic fermentation for an average of 12 days. Following natural separation, the wines spontaneously initiate the process of maleolactic fermentation, which is entirely completed in these vats." (Querciabella)

                                                                                                                                                              I love to find out the little details when visiting vineyards that aren't advertised, such as the below barrels are sold at 80 euro a pop (if I remember correctly) after their third passage/use.  Great deal. . . even if used just for decoration.
Barrique for sale

The tasting room. (From left) Stephanie Cuadra and Guido De Santi

Batar, on the left, their white blend of Chardonnay (50%); Pinot Bianco (50%).  Toscana IGT; production of 12,000 bottles.  9 months aging; French oak Burgundy barriques. . 30% new.
Mongrana, in the middle, from their vineyards in Maremma.  Blend of Sangiovese (50%); Merlot (25%); Cabernet Sauvignon (25%).  Maremma Toscana IGT; production of 216,000 bottles -- biodynamic since the first vintage 1997.  A small percentage of wine is aged in French barrique for ten months and then blended for bottling.
Querciabella, on the right, their Chianti Classico DOCG, Sangiovese (65%); Cabernet Sauvignon (5%).  Production of 192,000 bottles.  12 months in French barrique . . .10% new.
Camartino, not in the photo, but in the tasting.  Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%); Sangiovese (30%); Toscana IGT.  18,000 bottles and made only in the best vintages (not produced in '89, '92, '98, '02). Aged 20 months in 40% new French barriqe.
Palafreno, which I have not tasted -- Merlot 100%.  Toscana IGT.  3,000 bottle production.  Aged no less than 26 months after harvest in 100% French oak, 30% of that new.

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