Food

Fratelli unveils its vintage 2019 wines

According to Fratelli’s Alessio Secci, every good vintage is the taste of a year gone by, and a cause for celebration

It’s been a good year. Steadying his wineglass, Alessio Secci pours out a chilled glass of Rosé, fragrant with the scent of summer.

The mood is celebratory as he holds it up, toasting the first bottles of Fratelli’s new vintage: M/S Rosé 2019, M/S White 2019 and M/S Red 2019. “Every year, we start afresh,” he says, pausing to take a sip.

The M/S collection is a collaboration between Tuscan wine maker Piero Masi and Steven Spurrier, one of the world’s most influential wine professionals. They focus on creating grown-up, but approachable wines, made from Italian varieties of grapes that have adapted to the climate and soil of Solapur, Maharashtra, where Fratelli has a 240-acre estate.

When Alessio and his partners first bought land in Solapur in 2006, they chose it for its nutrient-poor, non-fertile soil. “The plants will suffer more and give better grapes that way,” explains Alessio, adding “Infertile soil means fewer grapes, which means there is more concentration of flavour.”

The result? Wines with a distinct vibrant acidity and brisk freshness. This style ties in with Fratelli’s philosophy. “All our wines are dry. That is a characteristic of Fratelli,” says Alessio. “And it is one aspect that never changes, as we don’t want to betray our identity.”

For this vintage, Alessio says, he took samples to Tuscany in August. “After many rounds of tastings and trials, Steven and Piero both decided on blend proposals. While the Rosé and Red remained the same blend ratio as last year, they decided to reduce Sauvignon Blanc from 20 to 10% in the M/S White 2019 Chardonnay.

Made with Sangiovese grapes, the Rosé has a subtle, lingering sweetness reminiscent of ripe berries. “I feel like 2019 has been our best year so far,” says Alessio, executive director and co-founder of Fratelli. He adds, “This is because of the climate conditions of 2018.” (This latest vintage is wine that was grown in 2018, harvested and crushed in early 2019, then stored for a year before being released into the market in December 2019.)

Explaining how the climate influences vintage, he says that a mild December and January helped the white wine grapes to ripen gradually, thus preserving all the primary aromas (the most delicate of which can be ruined if there is a temperature peak).

Red grapes also had enough time to ripen, and the constant slow increase in temperature helped develop flavour, aroma and complexity.

Fratelli unveils its vintage 2019 wines

Two to tango
  • At Dakshin, Crowne Plaza, Alessio shows Chennai how to pair Fratelli’s wines with Indian food. Celebrating the new vintages, the Rosé, Red and White are teamed with parottas and meaty curries, a tangle of coconut, ghee and spices. “Indian food is not just spicy, it is also complex,” he says, pouring out M/S Red 2019, aromatic with the scent of soft, ripe fruit, woven through with herbal notes. “This goes perfectly with mutton,” he smiles. As for the Rosé, it paired astonishingly well with Dakshin’s signature banana dosa.

Pouring out the white, made from a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Motewadi and Garwad, Alessio discusses how important vintage is in his home, Chianti, Italy. “Every year, we celebrate the flavours of the new wine,” he says, adding that in mature wine markets, each vintage is priced differently. Vintages where there have been favourable harvest conditions, for instance, attract higher prices.

They aren’t this lucky every year. With climate change and unpredictable droughts and rains, it is getting more challenging to make wine. Alessio says that the vintage 2020, which is yet to be harvested, for example, has seen a very adverse and unprecedented rainy season in October and November (of 2019) causing loss of production. He adds that the drought of 2017 forced them to postpone pruning in March due to lack of water. “These extreme conditions can cause big differences from one vintage to the other,” he says.

This is why, he adds, that every good vintage is the taste of a year gone by, and a cause for celebration.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:02:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/fratelli-unveils-its-vintage-2019-wines/article30320459.ece

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