Back to the future. A journey back in time discovering ancient wines
An excursus among archeological findings from Georgia to Greece, from Sicily to Sardinia, until Valpolicella
In an epoch characterized by a strong competition and uncertainty, looking at ancient viticulture could seem an unnecessary academic thing. An aristocratic divertissement for nostalgic and erudite people.
But every day our life teaches us how history is linked tour identity. Moreover, it teach us how, starting from the awareness of its important role, we can defend ourselves and go on, fighting and overcoming new challenges.
Attilio Scienza, Professor of the Universitą degli Studi di Milano, warns us to be careful. As a matter of fact, if once the Caucasus, saved from glaciations, was considered as the cradle of a first-class viticulture, in the last years this view has profoundly changed. Thanks to the molecular biology and anthropology evolutions it has been possible to verify the presence of crossings and contaminations, bringing to light active processes of acquisitions of grape-growing and wine-making techniques by the Occident. According to this principle, every viticulture can be considered original and the absorption of local varieties can be considered as native, i.e., almost in part deriving from the domestication of local wild vine.
The history of Georgian viticulture is very peculiar and interesting. Georgia is one of the most ancient centers of origin and domestication of vine. As a matter of fact, the eight thousands year old ceramic jars and the amazing biodiversity of the Georgian vine germoplasm are not trivialities, as David Maghradze, of the fruit growing, viticulture and oenology university of Tbilisi, underlines.
It is noteworthy that ancient wine jars were covered with earth in order to protect wine from climatic changes; this tradition is still used in Georgia. The grapevines are actually 540 in Georgia. The history reports also the tradition to add honey, sea water or resin to the wine, as well.
Giovanni Lovicu, from the Centro Regionale Agricolo of Cagliari (Sardinia) reports that in Sardinia it is presents a great quantity of wild vine. Recently, with these wild vine forests, the Centro Regionale Agricolo tried a pilot wine making, obtaining a wine characterized by an exceptional concentration of polyphenols. These are the traditions, the curiosities, typical of the inestimable Italian viticulture heritage. As Emilio Pedron, head of the Valpolicella wine tutelage consortium, recalls, it is on such native varieties that is important to invest. The philosophy of the indispensable globalization is loosing consent. This year, in Chile, bunches remained on vines while Australia is now copying our approach linked to the land peculiarity.
So it is important to bring out native varieties while keeping in mind the relationship with the contemporary context. Josč Rallo, of the Donnafuata farm, suggested customers to verify the quality of wild vines from the oenological view point, taking into account the trade-off between cost and benefit. Moreover, he underlined the importance of a marketing communication able to make the customer conscious of the uniqueness of such a product.
Hence, such uniqueness can be a winning card if played not as a stylistic ambition but as a quality rooted in the land and in the local history and springing up in the present. This is a non-clonable heritage that many countries envy to Italy.
The market is composed by careful and exigent customers that, sooner or later, unmask bluffs. How to forget in Blade runner, the lost and desperate stare of the replicant when he realizes to be unable to demonstrate his humanity telling a believable and, above all, true story?
02 March 2009 Teatro Naturale International n. 2 Year 7
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