Allegrini 2018

An ice cellar at 2,000 meters for the wines of Valcamonica. Between communication and research

The experiment is signed by Consorzio Pontedilegno-Tonale, with Consorzio Vini di Valcamonica, Cantina Bignotti and Unimont (University of Milan)

Between communication and research, the world of wine is always on the lookout for novelty. And so, while we have often spoken of bottles being aged at the bottom of the sea, and some have experimented with aging in mines (such as the one made by the Adige brand Cantina Tramin with its 2009 “Epokale”, aged in the Monteneve mine in Val Ridanna, at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters, which received a 100/100 rating by “The Wine Advocate”), but now there are also those who are experimenting with aging in “ice” in a specially created igloo cellar in the mountains. This is the curious project of the Consorzio Pontedilegno-Tonale with the Consorzio Vini di Valcamonica, Cantina Bignotti and Unimont - Università della Montagna, a centre of excellence of the University of Milan.
In concrete terms, the aim is to “complete the aging of 200 of the best bottles from the Valle Camonica area in an ice cellar built for the occasion, at an altitude of 2,000 meters, at Corno d’Aola, in the Ponte di Legno ski area, in the Adamello Park”. The aim is to study how the organoleptic qualities of wine change and to identify sustainable wine-growing techniques.

The igloo, to be used as an original aging cellar, was created by the Camuno artist Ivan Mariotti. At the beginning of the winter, 200 bottles were placed inside: Cantina Bignotti deposited its IGT reds and Supremo and Brut classic method sparkling wines, while the Consorzio Vini di Valcamonica, which includes 12 wineries, chose to take part in the experiment with around 30 labels including reds, whites and passito (from the Concarena, La Muraca, Rodella, Togni-Rebaioli, Scraleca, Vi Bu, Carona, Flonno, Monchieri, Zanetta, Cascina Casola and Rocche dei Vignali wineries).
The initiative also has a scientific purpose: it will be used to better understand how high altitudes and cold winters can help improve the bottle aging of local wines. “The aim of this experiment is to investigate the effect of the climatic characteristics of higher mountain altitudes, characterized by cold and ice, on the aging process of wines produced in Valcamonica. In fact, a series of chemical-physical and organoleptic analyses will be carried out both on the wines placed in the igloo and on those left in the cellars of the wineries at the bottom of the valley, which will allow an initial comparison to be made in order to verify the effect of the altitude conditions and better direct research in the coming years. The involvement of Unimont researchers and students in this experience is fully in line with the mission of the decentralized headquarters of the Milan State University, which is to transform the specific features of mountain areas into strengths rather than weaknesses through innovative approaches and strategic partnerships with local players, from businesses to local authorities, residents and tourists”, explains Anna Giorgi, Unimont manager.
“This study complements others, currently underway, all aimed at enhancing the value of Valcamonica’s wine products, including through the use of the high specificity of this valley. This innovative method of aging the wines, if well used, could allow the production of wines with unique qualities thanks to the very close link with their “terroir” and by innovating the age-old “savoir-faire” of the Camonica winegrowers”, adds Lucio Brancadoro, Professor of Viticulture at the University of Milan.
In the coming summer season, the results will also be open to guests who spend their holidays in the Camuno area and will have the opportunity to discover the peculiarities and characteristics of local wine-growing: “tourism can be an extraordinary source of knowledge of a territory and its products. The agricultural sector, in turn, can be a valid ally of tourism strategies”, explains Michele Bertolini, director of Consorzio Pontedilegno/Tonale, “and we believe, therefore, that uniting these two sectors can represent an excellent opportunity for economic development, while respecting local peculiarities and our ecosystem. With the igloo-cellar initiative we want to make our contribution to this evocative journey”, Bertolini concludes, “demonstrating the possibility of perpetuating and strengthening the strong moral, symbolic and also economic bond that exists between these mountains and their people. A value that we are certain also represents an additional asset in the eyes of those seeking the most authentic face of the mountains”.

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