martedì 21 giugno 2016

Eine Definition von Naturwein



Der Begriff “Naturwein” ist eine häufig verwendete Terminologie, die sich
auf keine Kategorie bezieht die durch Gesetzgebungen identifiziert werden kann, ich glaube, es lohnt sich, eine mögliche Definition in 6 Punkte zu erarbeiten.
  1. Das geeignete Land, um diese Weine produzieren zu können, sollte eine klare Umweltvariabilität enthalten. Einschließlich der geeigneten Bedingungen spezifisch für den Weinanbau.
  2. Der für den Weinberg verwendete Boden muss den Anforderungen der pflanzlichen und tierischen Artenvielfalt gerecht werden, einschließlich der zu enthaltenden Mikroorganismen.
  3. Die angebauten Sorten sollen basierend auf den Kriterien der Kultur der Gegend, Geschichte und der lokalen Tradition sein.
  4. Die Anbaupraktiken müssen die Grundsätze der ökologischen Landwirtschaft * untermauern (EU-Recht für Bio ist nicht ausreichend).
  5. Die Trauben müssen im Keller natürlich verarbeitet werden, bis zur Weinproduktion: Produzenten müssen absolut jede Bearbeitung vermeiden, Additionen, Subtraktionen oder irgendetwas anderes, das den natürlichen Prozess der Gewinnung kontert und die Reifung der Weine beeinflusst. Offensichtlich gilt es daher SO2 auch aufzulisten.
  6. Das Unternehmen muss eine übersichtliche Handwerkergroße beibehalten die es dem Winzer ermöglichen, persönlich den einzelnen Stufen der Produktion zu folgen. Voraussichtlich sollte der Schwellenwert bei weniger als 50.000 Flaschen festgelegt werden.

Es wäre das wachsende Interesse der Verbraucher an dieser Art von Produkten wünschenswert, damit die Gesetzgebung auf nationaler und europäischer Ebene “ad hoc” ausgearbeitet werden würde, um die Definition transparent und zum Schutz ernsthafter Produzenten zu machen. Die vorliegende Verwirrung der Begriffe und Definitionen auf dem Markt ist für die Entwicklung der Erzeuger die diesen Weg genommen haben nicht förderlich.
*”Biologische Landwirtschaft”: ein ökologische ProduktionsmanagementSystem, das die biologische Vielfalt fördert und verbessert, biologische Zyklen und die biologische Aktivität des Bodens berücksichtig. Es basiert auf dem minimalen Einsatz der Produktionsfaktoren und Management-Praktiken, die Wiederherstellung, Erhaltung und Weiterentwicklung der ökologischen und Harmonie mit der Umwelt zu verbessern.
Ubersetzung: Jacqueline Mantovani

venerdì 29 aprile 2016

"Natural" wine heading towards legislation?

Wine regulation is extraordinarily old and documentation of it appears in many historical records (Plinius, Columella etc.). Over the past three centuries, various standards have been gradually formed and periodically revised and developed. During the last century, laws aimed at defining, in some detail, wine and everything concerning its origin and production methods began to appear almost everywhere. To this end, highly scientific committees (universities, research centres, private companies) with different areas of expertise were formed, along with, of course, the extraordinary contribution of producers and industry professionals.
The coordination of a lot of work has immediately required the involvement of national and regional authorities in order to structure and consolidate everything and compare it with the outside. Hence the worldwide accredited institution is called O.I.V. These steps are critical to the credibility and validity of the work already completed and yet to be performed.
The regulations involving wine are so precise, down to the smallest details, that we cannot completely ignore them when addressing the topic of "natural" wine discipline. The appropriate professionalism is required to begin to approach this sector and establish fruitful collaborations with those who have had full knowledge for a long time.
Man, in the course of his history, has always cultivated the vine and wine has always existed. In fact, "natural" wine accompanies the history of human agriculture. This does not mean that the wines were "good". Indeed many of them plenty of defects, including the inability to age. "Farmer's wine", has excelled often more for its flaws than for its quality and only a few have managed to do well. But it is above all through technical and scientific knowledge that great progress has been made and contributed to the huge success of wine. Unfortunately there are also some who have abused the new opportunities offered by technology and research by “building" products that are not worthy of the wonderful history of wine.
Any regulation must begin with how and where the grapes are produced. Then detailed analysis of the agronomic side and management of the vineyard must be made, including the most fundamental moment – the harvest decision. It is also crucial that the origin of the grape be fully traceable back to the artisan producer, who must assume responsibility for it.
Every bud...a new hope

"Natural" wine could, little by little, leave behind this definition, entered into the common language despite having poor or no scientific validation, and assume terms that are more transparent and acceptable on the market.
Today we live a moment governed by the desire to launch news, almost always with little depth, instead of trying to prove the facts. This situation, if in the short term, gives notoriety, can harm in the medium term.  We need to build a future for the sector with a solid foundation and great seriousness. It's time to talk solidly and without conflicts of interest of all shapes and species, in particular of a commercial nature, in order to preserve the whole movement and not just a few.
For instance, we should make an important and urgent request for legislative amendment concerning the volatile acidity level, currently defined in far too confined values caused by the use, sometimes massive and not declared, of SO2, a product harmful to our health. Today, many natural wines exceed the level of volatile acidity permitted by current global standards and are therefore illegal. This would represent a major legislative step towards which effort is needed, especially to scientifically demonstrate that volatile acidity is not critical, if correctly balanced within the complexity of the wine. This theme further corroborates the thesis that to produce "natural" wines is a very demanding endeavour, nor can it be achieved with any variety, in any environment or under any climatic conditions.

For these reasons, and others, it is crucial to propose rules and disciplines that are not extemporaneous individual initiatives, but backed by serious institutions and underpinned by robust scientific basis. 

lunedì 25 aprile 2016

Il vino “naturale” verso una normativa?

La regolamentazione dei vini è straordinariamente antica e si trova documentazione in moltissime testimonianze storiche (Plinio, Columella..). Negli ultimi tre secoli, si sono gradualmente prodotte varie norme che sono state periodicamente rivisitate ed approfondite. Durante il secolo scorso sono nate un po’ ovunque delle legislazioni volte a definire in maniera piuttosto dettagliata il vino e tutto quanto concerne la sua origine e modalità di produzione. Allo scopo sono stati formati Comitati di alto profilo scientifico (Università, Centri di ricerca, aziende private) con differenti ambiti di expertise, oltre ben inteso, il contributo straordinario dei produttori e professionisti del settore.
Un coordinamento di tanto lavoro si è immediatamente reso necessario con il coinvolgimento di autorità nazionali, regionali, al fine di strutturare e consolidare il tutto e confrontarsi all’esterno. Qui l’istituzione mondialmente accreditata si chiama O.I.V. Questi passaggi sono fondamentali per la credibilità e la validità del lavoro svolto e ancora in essere.
Le normative sul vino sono talmente puntuali, fin nei minimi dettagli, che non ci si può chiamare completamente fuori quando si affronta l’argomento di disciplina del vino “naturale”. Occorrono le professionalità adeguate per iniziare ad approcciarsi a tale settore ed instaurare proficue collaborazioni con chi ne ha piena materia da lungo tempo.
L’uomo, nel corso della sua storia ha sempre coltivato la vigna e il prodotto vino è sempre esistito. In effetti, il vino “naturale” accompagna la storia agricola dell’umanità. Questo non significa che i vini erano “buoni”, anzi sicuramente molti di essi erano un nutrito programma di difetti, compresa la scarsa longevità. Il “vino del contadino”, molto spesso ha primeggiato di più per i suoi difetti che per le sue qualità e solo pochi sono riusciti a far bene. Ma è soprattutto con la conoscenza tecnico-scientifica che il progresso è stato grandissimo e ha contribuito all’enorme successo del vino. Purtroppo ci sono stati anche alcuni che hanno abusato delle nuove opportunità offerte dalla tecnologia e ricerca “costruendo” prodotti non degni della meravigliosa storia del vino.
Qualsiasi regolamentazione deve partire da come e dove si produce l’uva. Quindi deve affrontare in analisi dettagliata il lato agronomico e gestionale della vigna, compresa la criticità più forte che risiede nella decisione vendemmiale. Inoltre è basilare che la provenienza dell’uva faccia capo al produttore che ne assume completamente la responsabilità artigianale.
Germogliamento: ogni anno una...speranza

Il vino “naturale”, potrebbe, poco a poco, lasciare questa definizione, entrata nel linguaggio comune, perché scientificamente poco o affatto sostenibile, per volgere a termini più trasparenti ed accettabili nei confronti del mercato.
Viviamo oggi un momento governato dalla voglia di lanciare notizie, quasi sempre poco approfondite invece di provare dei fatti. Questa situazione, se nel breve può dare notorietà può far danno nel medio periodo; occorre costruire un futuro con basi solide e grande serietà. E’ giunto il momento di parlare solidamente e scevri da conflitti di interesse di ogni forma e specie, in particolare di natura commerciale al fine di garantire tutto il movimento e non solo alcuni.
Una importante ed urgente richiesta di modifica legislativa riguarda il tenore in acidità volatile, attualmente definito su valori troppo contenuti a motivo dell’utilizzo, anche massiccio e non dichiarato della solforosa, prodotto nocivo per la nostra salute. Oggi, molti vini naturali superano il livello di acidità volatile ammissibile dalla vigente normativa mondiale, e quindi sono fuorilegge. Questo rappresenta dunque un passaggio legislativo fondamentale verso il quale occorre impegnarsi, soprattutto scientificamente per dimostrare che, la volatile non costituisce una criticità se giustamente equilibrata nella complessità del vino. Inoltre questa tematica avvalora ancora maggiormente la tesi che produrre vini “naturali” è un’impresa professionale molto impegnativa, né si può realizzare con qualsiasi vitigno, in qualsiasi ambiente o in condizioni climatiche non adeguate.

 Anche per questi motivi, tra l’altro, è basilare che a proporre norme e disciplinari non siano iniziative estemporanee di singoli, ma serie istituzioni e avvalorate da basi scientifiche robuste.

sabato 9 aprile 2016

GOING BEYOND TASTE (Part two) – WINE

INTRODUCTION: Historically, food and wine have enjoyed a solid and multifaceted alliance especially in the civilizations of the great rivers (Tigris, Euphrates, Nile), in the Mediterranean basin and beyond. This extraordinary and refined synergy has always been a very precious asset that continues to build success, value and necessary emotions. So it’s only for convenience that the topics of food and wine will be presented here in two separate articles.
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Food and wine are a tried and tested combination that sometimes reaches awe-inspiring levels and there is never an end to subsequent discoveries: food 'imposes' the choice of wine. But wine can also be enjoyed on its own and these opportunities are sources of energy and emotion.
One of the biggest problems we have in producing wine is the difficulty we face in the vineyard. ‘Natural wine' is above all produced in the vineyard with its healthy and properly matured bunches that are taken to the cellar for the process that leads to "natural wine vinification": If you have done a good job in the vineyard, this process becomes easier.

The real 'limits' of conventional wines arise when what is obtained in the vineyard is elaborated in the cellar to make it 'better' through the use of substances and means that are also harmful to our health.
A wine made 'naturally' in the cellar, perhaps with some defects (colour, volatile, clarity), is surely healthier. In short, we must rewrite and objectify the analytical parameters as brilliantly as the French already have, while we still cause great confusion and continue to compare these two types of wine within the same topic of discussion.
I believe, however, that the two economic sectors, conventional wines and wines organically and naturally produced in the cellar, can never be in competition because they travel parallel paths: they are very different wines and thus subject to different tasting rules.
Naturally-produced wine just drawn off
The consumer, like with food, is moving towards wines made with greater respect for the environment and his health, caring little if they do not match the rules dictated by the "experts": the first criteria is healthiness.
It's easy to meet people who complain about different upsets caused by wine: excellent meals, delicious foods, sore head... thanks to the wine. But why does this continue to happen? Why is wine ruining, 'poisoning', us silently? And nobody does anything?

In developing completely organic and natural wines, one must consider environmental conditions, production and managerial abilities, while facing major economic risks. It is a road of uncertainties, surprises and variability… all factors that do not match the strict rules of entrepreneurship which seek security, risk removal and standardised production. These brief considerations should make it clear that choosing the path of becoming a 'natural wine' producer is still a strong, costly and risky decision and commitment to it must be conducted with great professionalism. No clashes, conflicts or judgment: everyone can do better.
Already wine has its disadvantages due to the alcohol it contains, so why produce significant quantities by resorting to harmful cultivation practices for the surrounding environment? By doing so, the wine is only marketable after various interventions in the cellar, including the use of substances that are harmful to our health.

Sometimes we overdo it with reference to the description of the taste of a wine, "minerality" comes to mind, a terminology frequently used with reference to the minerals found locally (have you ever tried to suck a rock?). It may be helpful to remember how this feature is derived, apart from some specific varieties such as the Riesling, from a biological complexity that is found primarily where the environment is respected, the vines are old and their management committed to preserving the area’s historical and environmental complexity. Many business decisions have instead compromised such situations with massive soil movements, extensive monocultures, forced mechanisation, pesticides and herbicides as well as the uprooting old vines with the loss of varietal gene pools, to build short-lived vineyards condemned by cultivation techniques that are simply too aggressive.

We should not look to the future of wine by projecting the past: let’s also consider empirical knowledge, tacit and unexplained rules, which are embedded in tradition and which science tries to make us understand better: both must be considered.

P.S. I would like to mention, gratefully, the observers and consumers from Japan who, for over twenty years, have given Italian producers the stimulus that wine must return to being a natural protagonist by also going beyond 'taste'.
Finally, I would like to express gratitude to Isabelle Legeron, who, after undertaking the maximum qualification as “Master of Wine”, has become totally committed to natural wine, giving great impetus and synergy to the field.


LORENZO CORINO

mercoledì 9 marzo 2016

Producing NATURAL WINE

Our agriculture is moving further and further away from the choices the entrepreneurs themselves would like to make, because it is influenced by legislation and by the industry that holds the fundamental and strategic resources needed to produce (germplasms, seeds, herbicides, agrochemicals, fertilizers and other means related to production).
Our viticulture is no exception to these rules, but is a 'wanted' sector by the industry thanks to its large consumption of pesticides 'also manufacturers other diseases' and to the productive capacity forced on the land through aggressive monoculture (hence the increasingly strong need to have access to external input to continue to produce).
Viticulture is also authorised and encouraged in environments that are unsuitable for vineyards and where it is possible to produce only thanks to the high consumption of agrochemicals. This reflects an important part of the italian industry, but in Europe, the situation isn’t much different.
We cannot, at least in the short term, substantially change this situation, which gives rise, among other things, to considerable economic gains.
Yet with foresight and respect for the economic value of the companies, it is possible to create a healthier and more "organic" viticulture and naturally obtain in the cellar wines made without the intervention of additives. This choice is very challenging, very professional and not applicable in every single viticultural environment, nor does it guarantee production consistency. It is therefore immediately clear that it is a choice that can only be made by a select few and that inevitably has an important value, which in turn the consumer must be able to recognize.

Natural wine producers cannot continue to 'talk in circles’ saying they are better because they might find themselves left high and dry. There are excellent producers of "non-natural" and delicious wines that have shaped the history of italian wine and much more. Those who silently work well and with mastery in the vineyard and in the cellar with added SO2 values that are lower than many products offered by "natural wine" producers.
In practice, in our great viticulture we don’t do our main duty enough. That is to get grapes capable of being transformed into a stable wine. We can’t be content to not produce well in the vineyard and then fix our mistakes with several interventions in the cellar, including some that are harmful to our health, to achieve durability over time of wine.
For all the reasons mentioned above, it’s always helpful to remember the definition of WINE (EC Regulation 479/2008): "wine is the product obtained exclusively from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, crushed or not, or of grape must". So if we do not move away from the legislation, it makes no sense to go and search other natural wine definitions that provide for additional interventions, even more so when they are harmful to our health.
Example of additives and permitted practices in the production of wine

It’s worth noting that italian institutional bodies, worldwide economic points of reference in the sector such as Vinitaly, have initiated a contest (Free Wine) to reward wines that contain a maximum total sulfur value of 40mg/lt. It’s curious to observe how other events and associations dedicated to "Natural Wines" yet accept wines with much higher SO2 values.

Data updated February 29, 2016


This further demonstrates that there is still a long way to go and that it’s difficult to supply the consumer with products that really adhere to the definition of the word "WINE" before it’s taken over by some 'joker'.

And I would like to conclude with a prescription from the Medical School of Salerno: "mens laeta, requies, moderate diaeta" (happy mind, rest, right diet).

lunedì 7 marzo 2016

Notes on NATURAL WINES: thoughts and considerations (part two): the grape harvest

The grape harvest is called vendemmia in Italian, from the latin word VINDIMIA. No other product on earth uses this name for its harvest. Vendemmia also means prosperity, benefit, profit. Sometimes all you need to do is say the word and a smile appears. If we look over the centuries at how it is represented in literature and paintings or reproduced in art, we must conclude that it’s an event with a certain amount of 'magic'. The harvest ends a cycle of hopes, holds disappointments and promise. It reveals our inability to fully uncover nature’s secrets and, above all, teaches us patience. Additionally in the production of natural wine, the grape harvest is inexorable. After all, it’s all in the hands of natural processes (yeast, bacteria, biochemical reactions) with the intelligent assistance of the profession.

Harvested Vineyard

I was really young, maybe 4 or 5 years old, but I remember we often spoke of the grape harvests, especially the difficult, almost desperate ones when rain kept us out of the vineyard. The men went to the grape harvest with heavy canvas bag on their heads and their backs covered (they were the same men who, during a storm, went out armed with a hoe to channel the water and fix any unwanted streams). We harvested silently, patiently waiting for a lull in the rain. Sometimes, you returned home for a quick break in front of the always-burning fireplace… and meanwhile, the fog consumed the grape skins and our hopes. These images are still alive in my head and helped me grow and understand that patience and perseverance are necessities in life. As these situations occurred frequently in the environment, it explains why, the choice of specific territories and the cultivation of certain varieties was so important, including their association with the, albeit limited, space and size of the vineyard ... long before other means (specialised mechanisation, more effective pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, irrigation) were available.
The grape harvest is a professional activity from which many different results can be obtained. For this, we must prepare the vineyard well for years, a fundamental task to overcome difficult events and, normally, this can only be fully implemented over small surfaces. The moment you implement the harvest is of critical importance. But that’s not enough. You must instruct the harvesters, harvest with them and understand their difficulties, misunderstandings, doubts; but also explain what you want with practical examples and checks. This is the mandatory premise if you’re to talk of natural wines. Do not underestimate these rigorous choices. They involve a certain reduction in yields, do not guarantee regularity of production and quality over the years, and there’s the certainty of some 'lost' years. But also the potential for truly amazing vintages.


The Barbera...ready
A lesson in grape harvest


In my memory, the year 1977 marked a big 'rift' between the grape harvest and the gathering of grapes, especially in the case of the White Moscato grape in Piedmont. Climatically, it was a year without sun and with incessant rains, in short, a real setback for the grapes. For me, it was my first opportunity to see how the grape harvest was becoming a task of total 'collection'; after all, they’d worry about it in the cellar. Then the wine sector divided into three groups: those who dedicated themselves increasingly to a perfect harvesting choice, those who entrusted it to mechanical harvesting and those who went on with manual but almost undifferentiated harvesting.


 
Not-to-be-missed colours of the Procanico


The wine world knows the difficulties of the grape harvest and so it is equipped to overcome them (legislation, processing of musts and wines, additives...) because it does not want to take any risk, but achieve consistency and regularity: the high road for more reliable economic forecasts. These are safety nets that natural wine does not make use of.
Not everyone has the ability to bring to the cellar grapes ideal for the production of natural wine. The peculiarities and difficulties of obtaining grapes able to evolve into natural wine therefore makes it a rare and precious product.

mercoledì 2 marzo 2016

A definition of NATURAL WINE

Given that "natural wine" is a commonly used terminology which refers to a category of goods not yet identified by legislature, I think it is worthwhile to elaborate a possible definition in 6 points.

A. The land suitable to produce these wines must contain a clear environmental variability including within the specific vineyard cultivation
B. The soil used for the vineyard must meet the requirements of plant and animal biodiversity, including microorganisms
C. The cultivated varieties should correspond to criteria of the area's culture, history and that of local tradition.
D. The cultivation practices must underpin the principles of organic agriculture* (EU law on bio is not adequate).
E. The grapes in the cellar must be naturally managed up until wine is produced: producers must absolutely avoid any process, addition, subtraction or anything else that counters the natural process of obtaining and maturing the wines. Clearly this applies to SO2 as well.
F. The company must remain artisan-sized to allow the entrepreneur to personally follow the stages of production. Indicatively, the threshold should be at less than 50,000 bottles produced.

Artisan of wine
It would be desirable, given the growing consumer interest in these types of products, that legislation on a national and European level be drawn up “ad hoc” to make the definition more transparent and protect serious producers. The present confusion of terms and definitions is not conducive to the market’s development or useful to the producers who have taken this path.

LORENZO CORINO


* "Organic agriculture": an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and the soil’s biological activity. It is based on the minimal use of production factors and management practices that restore, maintain and enhance the ecological and environmental harmony.