That is the main job of a "vignerole"; making choices!
A while ago during a conversation with Roberto Cipresso, the subject of choices came up. That's when he told me that he wasn't so good technically speaking but he is good in making the right decisions. He also talked about intuition and sensibility.
Those 2 words are actually closely related to each other, without sensibility you can't hear your intuitive side. Roberto's sensibility allows him to "feel" the ripeness of the grape, "feel" the weather and then pick then right day to begin the harvest. One more piece to the puzzle is that, with some exceptions, there is no right or wrong decisions made during the wine-making process, the result is a difference in the wine. The different styles, philosophies and beliefs in making wine are neither right or wrong but they are just different paths to achieve different results. Let's take as an example a modern producer versus a traditional one with similar quality standards; both makers make very different decision. The traditionalist will try to express the terroir; where the modernist will try to enhance the bouquet and the structure and correcting the genetic faults of the grape itself. In the case of Sangiovese a modernist will produce wines that are approachable while young with silkier texture and a round palate. Whereas, the traditionalist's wine will result in a more tannic, closed and austere version. Now personally, I tend to like more challenging wines so I'm more of an old world guy. But, that does not mean that the modernist have it all wrong. Actually, they just have a different vision of what wine should be; I obviously am not talking about adulterated wines, that in my opinion, are at the same level as the worst processed food. These kind of wines follow a different path and the objective is to create a flavor based on marketing studies and chemical formulas. There is a certain path that wine drinkers walk throughout their life. Most begin with sweeter, fruit forward and jammy wines and progress to seaking out tannins, acid and dry ones. Similar to what happens with food as a kid; starting with sweets and candy and moving toward craving salt. In wine-making this path is filled with crossroads; that require many choices. When Roberto was talking about his intuition he meant that that skill helps him to make a choice from a different prospective. It's a hard concept to explain, but, with experience and much repitition, it is possible to reach a deeper level of understanding about the grapes and the process. Meaning that you'll decipher more information that helps in making those challenging decisions. When I walk the vineyards with any winemaker, the ritual of touching, looking and tasting, by eating some grains was common. Now, although I could get a sense of the maturation from eating the grapes, they were able to get information about past, present and possibly future problems they have, had or will have. All this information will help to then make decisions; like when to pick, how long should the wine be left to macerate with the skins, should the the temperature be controlled during the fermentation, were it should be aged; stainless steel vats or wood barrel, what size and for how long...
Buona Bevuta a Tutti!!!