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Behind the vineyard: Walter Bartolomei of Ciù Ciù

The Ciù Ciù farm, owned by the Bartolomei family, was founded in 1970 by the spouses Natalino and Anna and is located a few kilometers from the medieval Offida (AP), a splendid town rich in events and traditions. The commitment and tradition of the company, together with the belief that wine should be the most authentic expression of the territory, give rise to a wide range of wines: from the indigenous vines of the Marche Passerina and Pecorino - rediscovered by the passion of a few winemakers - to the best known Sangiovese, Merlot, Barbera, Montepulciano, Pinot and Chardonnay. Ciù Ciù wines are an authentic expression of the company's commitment and wine tradition, the result of research and quality both in the vineyard and in the cellar, but also of a quality natural wine ecosystem with a "terroir" (microclimate,

G: Nice to meet you Walter, thanks for taking the time to have a sit down with us! Without further ado, let's start off Series 1 of 'Behind the vineyard'!

How has the year been so far for Ciu Ciu?

The year was not so good because of Covid-19 that at the beginning of the year stopped our main market: China,  and then all markets all over the world, even the local and national markets. Now in the last month, the local and national market and some international market as Central Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, and Australia started to work again, we hope that sooner also Chinese Market and USA Market can start to order again.

During the lockdown, we never stopped to work because our vineyards need care as pruning and organic treatment of the vine and also in the cellar our worker still worked in the respect of COVID measurements ( so maintaining the distance, wearing  gloves and mask and disinfecting all working places

Ciu Ciu's commitment to tradition and respecting the land reflects in each wine as a result of research and quality as well. Could you provide us some insights on the process?

Ciù Ciù is certified organic from 1996. Organic winemaking is defined by a set of rules that apply to both the VINEYARD and the CELLAR. In the vineyards, the protocol excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides and relies on low yield per acre as well as on ripening curves to establish the right harvest time. Thanks to a pretty dry area, often exposed to winds, we manage to have dry and healthy grapes. The fertilization stage takes place employing the “green manuring” technique with leguminous products. The plants in question are grown between the rows in order to provide the vines with the correct nutrition, without the need of chemicals. In the cellar, the use of sulfites is allowed but only under 140 mg/liter (any other conventional wine can have up to 250 ml/lt of sulfites). Coming back to our production protocol, we do add sulfites however far below the limit of the organic certification and this for two main reasons: (1) right after the harvest we drop down the grapes’ temperature to stop and oxidation and save flavors and acidity (instead of sulfites we use cold). (2) our grapes develop naturally the sulfites they need to age well, as an example in Merlettaie Pecorino the total content of sulfites is 51ml/lt and 37ml/lt are naturally present within the grape.

Ciù Ciù is also certified vegan. From the 2014 vintage, all our wines have the Vegan logo on the back label, meaning they are suitable for vegans. This acts as a warranty that during the entire cycle there was no use of ingredients, adjuvants, or manufacturing auxiliaries of animal origin as well as technological adjuvants, filters, membranes, or other manufacturing auxiliaries obtained of animal origin. The vegetarian and vegan products additionally present some other common requirements: they do not use food, ingredients, adjuvants, or manufacturing auxiliaries, tested on animals; they do not use food, ingredients, adjuvants, or manufacturing auxiliaries, obtained from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) placed in the environment.- More vineyards are leaning towards biodynamic viticulture and/or Organic farming. Ciu Ciu has been at the forefront of this in the Marche region. Talk us through the troubles you've faced growing organically.

We take care also of raw material as corks using sustainable corks: we are a strong partner of Nomacorc as their cork is made using renewable, plant-based biopolymers derived from sugar cane and they are fully recyclable.

More vineyards are leaning towards biodynamic viticulture and/or Organic farming. Ciu Ciu has been at the forefront of this in the Marche region. Talk us through the troubles you've faced growing organically: 

The bad weather condition in spring and in summer that can ruin the grapes, but as we have more than 180 ha of organic farm we did not suffer a lot because we can maintain the quality and also in the vintage of bad weather conditions also the quantity than some smaller producer.

Do you have a favorite wine out of Ciu Ciu? 

Yes, of course, I love tasting different kind of wine from a different region, Now I’m interested in Nero d’avola, Negroamaro and also Maremma wines.

Where do you foresee Ciu Ciu growing in the future? 

In Asia of course, in the past few years, we develop some new market as Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam, but we are looking also to Russia Market.

What is a day off like for you? 

In this period I do not have any day off, on Sunday I always check the works in the vineyards.

And that concludes our interview. Thanks again for your time Walter!