End of Year News
Corzano e Paterno End of Year Letter
Certain qualities mark pivotal moments in successful endeavors: energy and activity accumulated over time, a moment of self examination, then a clear jump, an almost quantum leap in productivity and organization, finally settling into a new configuration where sectors are better integrated, more harmonious. This is what happened at the Fattoria Corzano e Paterno in 2010.
Of course the farm had been growing and refining itself continually over the forty years of its existence, but this year was different. When Wendel first found Corzano he imagined a place where he could produce his own wine and cheese and, as was his way, he set up improvised facilities for both. With the enthusiasm of their youth, his children, nephew and niece adapted willingly to the new and exciting challenges. With the passing of the decades these young men and women have grown into their leading roles in their various sectors on the farm. Now this generation has set its own mark on their inheritance: they are engaged, informed and ambitious for the possibilities of their land.
Important structural changes have taken place this year. We have seen the dairy, the office, the tasting room and farm shop moved from their perpetually makeshift facilities in Paterno to newly restored spaces on the Corzano hill alongside the recently built underground wine cellar. The new locations are in more spacious and modernized parts of the Corzano complex, although rooms with vaulted ceilings constructed more than five hundred years ago are still used. The dairy now occupies the building that was once the wine cellar, and the tasting room is in a renovated barn. Having all of these work areas adjacent has meant a great deal to the administration of the farm. It also means that one can purchase wine as well as cheese without changing hills. In Paterno remain the stables, the farm garage, tractors and of course two houses of the agriturismo. With time we hope that on the Paterno side we can develop initiatives that involve artisanal work including metalwork, ceramics and food elaboration. We hope, too, that Pascal will begin again to fly his early morning hot air balloons from the fields nearby.
This year that saw the fruition of Wendel’s vision and a taking in hand by Aljoscha, Antonia, Arianna, Till and Sibilla of the next period of development, experimentation and growth. Through their young children there is already the promise of another generation, curious, busy learning skills and preparing themselves for the future.
Sector by Sector
Wines: it was a strong and challenging year for wine making. The season, cold and rainy, began late. Then in July it suddenly became very hot for a few weeks after which there was a cooling down period. August was rainy and there was much care required to prevent sickness due to humidity. It was a change from the preceding year which had been very dry and therefore very stressful for the grapes. In August we were visited by a hale storm which, frightening though it is to any fruit grower, did very little damage to our grapes. The evidence indicates that it will be a very good year for our wines; although they will not be high in alcohol they will have rich bodies with intense aromas.
The harvest began in early September and promised to be an excellent one, for reds in particular. But the weather proved unpredictable and unstable with frequent rain. This year, more than most, required a meticulous manual selection of the grapes and so the selecting tables (an innovation) had an important role to play. In the end, the scrupulous work of picking and selecting paid off with wonderful wines of a vibrant fruitiness and fresh and intense aromas without having compromised concentration. The only problem was that with such a radical selection process the quantity of grapes used was dramatically reduced: we lost circa 40% of our red production, but in exchange we have obtained excellent and highly perfumed wines.
There was an abundance of fruit this year but the rains that hampered work in the vineyard made the olive harvest equally problematic. The rain had swollen the olives but, fortunately, that did not affect the quality of the oil. It only meant that per kilo of olives the yield in olive oil was only 11%, that is, 25% less than previous years. With Arianna in the cellar, Aljoscha had time to experiment more with his new passion: oil. Through new and innovative facilities for pressing the oil extraction has been optimized. The press can be regulated to maximize the qualities of specific olive types: we now make an oil of single varietals. This year we have oil from Moraiolo and Frantoio varieties alongside our classical Tuscan mix of olives. Again, with the extra care taken in harvesting, transportation of the olives and the variations of the pressing procedure we have oils of great balance, intensity, fruitiness; oils less bitter than in previous years.
The remarkable quality of the oil is due also the fact that Aljoscha will not allow more than six hours to pass between picking and pressing. This reduces oxidation and protects polyphenols from being washed away with the water. Polyphenols, antioxidants, contribute both to the longevity of the oil but also, importantly, to the its health benefits. With the process of extraction so refined the number of polyphenols increases two to three times that of standard pressings.
The new dairy is a joy to behold. Literally. Its windows have the most beautiful views across the valley. It previously housed the winemaking facilities until the new wine cellar was built but now houses our modern, spacious cheese making
area. Antonia, together with Nicoletta, creates more than twelve different cheeses from Till’s milk and continue to experiment. Our cheeses are now seen in some of the finest restaurant.
As the portal for distribution of the farm’s products, the sales area is the point of reference for most visitors to the farm. Sibilla can be found selling cheese and wine, giving tastings and advising clients and our guests on local history and the best restaurants around.
We are so very happy for Chiara, who has administered to our office needs for the last ten years. She is expecting her first child, a girl, in February. She will be out of the office until the autumn.
Mirella is now very well settled in as responsible for the Agriturismo sector of the farm. She is an energetic and enthusiastic presence among us, tireless in her attention to our guests. We are lucky to have her.