One of the best nights during the harvest was when Jurij Fiore invited all of the harvest students into his house for dinner. His wife cooked up a fabulous meal and we shared many stories that night.
These are not Jurij's Chardonnay grapes
One story that I will never forget was the one he told us about how he acquired his Chardonnay cuttings. One year Jurij and his family were up in the Cote de Beaune visiting an old friend. Jurij was explaining to his friend that he wanted to start a new Chardonnay project, just to experiment with a French varietal. His friend assured Jurij that he would be able to get great Chardonnay cuttings for him, so of course Jurij agreed.
So one night his friend, snuck into a Grand Cru vineyard somewhere in Cote de Beaune and took clippings from the vines, shoved them in a bag and threw them in the trunk. Jurij was amazed that he did this, but wasn’t convinced that the cuttings would make it back to Italy. Jurij took the bag, put them in his trunk and drove back to Tuscany anyway.
Miraculously, the cuttings survived the hot journey home and the grafting on to his current vines went rather smoothly with little loss. Jurij was astonished that the grafts actually took. Not only did they work, but they now produce what I believe is one of my favorite Chardonnays and possibly one of Italy’s finest.
Another interesting fact about his Chardonnay is the grafting method. First of course there are American rootstocks. Sangiovese was then grafted on the American rootstock and then the Chardonnay was grafted onto the Sangiovese. It’s no wonder his Chardonnay is so great, each vine is a blend of te best wine producing countries in the world! That is probably not the answer but it is kind of cool when you think about it. This Chardonnay is so coveted that almost all of the bottles he produces is sold to one restaurant and one restaurant only, Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence. The owner, Mr.Pinchiorri tasted this Chardonnay at Jurij’s estate and fell in love with the wine. He loved it so much that he made a deal with Jurij and Jurij’s father, Vittorio, that all of the bottles produced would only go to his restaurant. (of course Jurij keeps some bottles for himself) So now the only way to taste the Chardonnay named ” I Richiari” is to go to Enoteca Pinchiorri or to be friends with Jurij.
Here are some statistics:
Altitude: 370m (1,210 feet) above sea level
Exposition : South west
Soil: Sandy- silty, very rich in stony fraction
Harvest time: End of September
Fermentation process: Grapes are cold macerated for a few hours and then soft pressed. Fermentation takes place in 228 liter french barrels-50%new- with a max temperature of 19 degrees Celsius
Refining: “Elevage sur lie”(the wine stays on the dead yeast cells) and “Battonage ” ( stirring the lees)for the first 3 months. The wines remain in the barrels for another 9-12 months.
Bottle Maturation: at least 6 months
Number of bottles produced: 2003=600… 2004= 1200…2006=1165
I have been lucky enough to try this wine on 2 occasions and it continues to blow my mind away. I was also lucky enough to receive another bottle as a gift for completing the harvest which I am extremely thankful. OK so heres the tasting note from the first time I tried “I Richiari”.
“I Richiari” 2007 13.5%
beautiful pale golden yellow color. A delicate nose that makes your mouth water. Soft fruit and floral components backed by some nutty aromas. Subtle high quality cream comes through on the tail end,outright delicious. A rich velvety mouth feel coupled with pure elegance is the signature of this wine. Lemon peel on the back end and the ripping acidity keeps it interesting and leaves you yearning for more. A huge finish leaves you with a sense of a lemon cream pie dusted with minerals. There is no feeling of excess oak or alcohol. This Chardonnay has it all: deliciousness,balance,elegance and harmony. What a ride!
Food Pairing: Gently grilled lobster tails served on a bed of bitter greens, sliced and sauteed fingerling potatoes, with a dollop of avacado aioli.