Friday, August 16, 2013

Planning ahead

Sometimes you have to go back to go forward....

In this case, back to October last year - and the start of planning for a long term project. Since tasting Modra Frankinja / Blaufrankisch about 4 years ago, we have been continually impressed by the variety - and the potential for growing it here in this region.

We were initially enthused - and hugely influenced - by our experiences with Roland Velich of Weingut Moric (Profile here....) and whose wines we are lucky - and proud - to import into Ireland.

This region here in Slovenia has traditionally been a white wine region, but red varieties are becoming more common. Of course, there are the "sexy" varieties like Pinot Noir, but we're not convinced about its potential here. Modra Frankinja (the Slovene name for Blaufrankisch) has one of the longest growing times - from flowering to harvest, and it produces a lovely, juicy fruit that even in high temperatures can retain a wonderful acidity and elegance. Of course a lot is also determined by what happens in the cellar, but to us, "MF" should be silk, elegant, juicy, long and characterful - not unlike a strange hybrid of Pinot Noir and Syrah.

This is what we started with!
So last year we decided we would clear an old vineyard and plan for planting young MF vines. The wine-growing year is never quiet (except perhaps in August) so we had to fit all the work in around harvest time. Working established vines is a true skill, but there's also something fascinating, and ultimately skillful about preparing land that will host the hopes and expectations of generations of winemakers in the years to come. What we do/did will set the groundwork for whatever wines we enjoy out of bottles in the years to come....

Still going..... thought this was supposed to be easy!
Getting there..... great pleasure burning the scrub!
It's steeper than it looks.... plus more angled to the side!
Looking a bit better now...
One of the most fascinating aspects of the early preparatory work was seeing what soil - and rock - structure we had. The whole region is part of the old Pannonian sea bed, so although we are hours from the coast, we easily found old sandstone and fossils in the soil. We have heavy clay of anywhere between 1 metre and 3 metres depth over this seabed base. This gives us a perfect combination of water retention in the long, dry Summer and yet the complexity of minerality that will feature as the vines age and the roots burrow their way into the old seabed.

After all that, we had to go looking for the right clone and rootstock - something that proved a little more challenging than we expected.....

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