Grapevine & Wine 06/09/2010

Attilio Scienza: the future way for wine is a valorization enology

It is wrong thinking that a modern and equipped cellar can make up for any problem. It is necessary to invest in unique and recognizable wines, starting from the vineyard. Without leaving to role of cooperation out

In the wine design process the Italian (but not the French) producers never distinguished between the innate or the added quality of the product. The innate quality is provided by the vineyard, by the interaction between the vine and the environmental and culture conditions. The added quality, on the contrary, is the result of the enology processing.
Why is so important to distinguish between these contributions? Because it is important to employ different strategies of research, valorization, defense and communication. In the last years we thought that it was enough to have a modern and equipped cellar to make up for any deficiency in the grape quality: we developed a correction and not a valorization enology. Then, finally, we noticed that, beside all the investments in technology, the quality of our wines didn’t improved. On the contrary, they were becoming even more similar one each other, in some way trivial and without character.
Then, we understood that we had to come back to the vineyard in order to give uniqueness to our wines back. Coming back to vineyard means first to understand the actual quality potentialities of the soil: the wine quality is under our feet!
Obviously, the first phase of assessment of the soil quality should be followed by a stage of optimization of the relationship between the environment and the vine. This means trying to avoid the errors done in the past, by a viticulture which was pointing at the quantity and not at the quality; hence, we should try to modify the plantations, the genetic lines (multi-grafts and clones), the soil and the green care.
In order to do that, we can now exploit a technique that was tested in tens of vineyards around Italy in the last 30 years, called vine zonation. Thanks to this strategy, it is possible to operate on the quality of the grapes and of the wine-making processes with very different approaches.
Obviously, the purchaser of a zonation can be very different, such as a Region, an Area, a cooperative of producers or even a single farm. By the way, the best results seem to be provided if the zonation is purchased by a cooperative of producers, as exemplified by the case of the Lavis coop.
As a matter of fact, it was shown that the best results on the wine quality were realized whenever the stage of study of the interactions and the optimization are followed by an involvement of the different producers of the cooperative in order to apply the results of the study and to communicate such results to the consumers.
This requires that many different skills work together in the zonation process; from the pedologist to the agronomist, from the enologist to the marketing expert.
We’ll need to face soon big changes both in the law which regulate the denominations by the European Common Market organization and in the tastes of the consumers. The production has to follow these new requirements, both by defending our traditional wines but also, more importantly, by proposing new wines for a market which is not paying so much attention to the places of origin but which is able to remember properly tens of different varieties.
The success will be of that zone of production that will be able to link its wine to the history, the culture and the gastronomy. Only these aspects will make the difference from the aggressive and industrialized productions of the New World.

This text is taken from the speech of Attilio Scienza at the conference held for celebrating the 50 years of the Pitigliano Cooperative, a Tuscan cellar.

di Attilio Scienza