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It’s Time to Celebrate the Bounty of the Harvest
Everybody is waiting for the first wine of the year, vino novello, which goes so well with the chestnuts that also appear in late autumn. As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen, people have always gathered to celebrate the bounty of the harvest. The most important crop in Tuscany is wine, and much is planned: in mid-September Greve will host the annual Rassegna del Chianti Classico , an ideal occasion to taste the most recent vintage and decide whose wines you want to stock up on. There will also be shows (including a photographic exhibition) and panel discussions.
On the last weekend of September the town of Impruneta will hold the annual Festa dell’Uva, a festival in which the town’s four neighborhoods compete to see who can provide the best allegorical representation of the grape harvest. It’s street theater at its best, and the town square will come alive with beautiful floats and fancifully costumed performers.
The last week of September Rufina will hold Bacco Artigiano, a festival featuring the wines of Pomino and Rufina (little-known Tuscan gems). The first wine of the year is, of course, vino novello, which goes so well with the chestnuts that also appear in late fall. The wine will be bottled at the end of October, and you will be able to decide which you like best at two sagre scheduled for early November, one at Pontassieve and the other at Montespertoli .
Vin novello means new wine, and it would arrive even sooner if there weren’t a law requiring producers to wait until November 4th to release it. Carbonic maceration, the technique used to make vin novello, differs substantially from that used to make most wines: the grapes are placed, whole, in CO2-filled filled tanks, and the juices they contain undergo intracellular fermentation without the assistance of yeast. The resulting wine is light, lively, and has a fruity bouquet with unmistakable overtones. It is also relatively low in tannins and doesn’t really keep well, which is fine because it goes best with fall specialties such as roasted chestnuts. Most of the major Tuscan wineries produce Vin Novello, some entirely from grapes fermented under carbonic maceration, and some by cutting wines made with carbonic maceration with wines made traditionally. The wine varies greatly from producer to producer, so taste around to determine which you like best. Pontassieve’s Sagra del Vin Novello, in early November, is the perfect place to start!