Allegrini 2018

Bing, today’s native vines and... those of tomorrow: a look at the history of viticulture in Italy

Economy, culture, climate: how the panorama of Italian wine changes. Ian D’Agata: “every vine has its own history, there are no scarce vines”
Ian D’Agata at Barolo

The greatness and success of Italian wine in the world is mainly linked to a number of vines: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Nero d’Avola, Montepulciano, Verdicchio, Vermentino, Glera. All rigorously autochthonous. However, they are nothing more than the visible tip of a giant iceberg, made up of more than 500 varieties allowed and cultivated in Italy. A heritage of biodiversity that is anything but symbolic, because if it is true that most of the time we still talk about marginal economic phenomena, history teaches that the success, or failure, of a vine, comes from many factors: environmental, social, economic and obviously climatic. That’s why varieties such as Pelaverga, Freisa, Nascetta, just to mention a few, could turn out, for one reason or another, to be the champions of viticulture in the future. An ampelographic richness to be protected, on stage at “BING - Best Italian Native Grapes and Wines”, the exhibition signed by Ian D’Agata and Collisioni, in Barolo, with almost 100 producers who have dedicated much of their work to the natives vines, which translates into unique wines, tangible and enjoyable evidence of the oenological diversity of the Belpaese.
As Ian D’Agata tells to WineNews, he has dedicated an annual appointment to the native vines of Italy, signed with the Collisioni Wine Project, “Indigena”, which, from 9 to 11 May, will focus on “Grapes and Terroirs”, “each vine has its own history, there are no low quality- vines, certainly there are some native vines that give less good wine than others, but we must always remember that most of the native vines have not yet been thoroughly studied. Sangiovese had its first important moment of study with the “Chianti Classico 2000” project (in 1987, ed.), and today we know something more, but this shows that even the most planted grapes in Italy were not known very much until some time ago”.
“Imagine - Ian D’Agata recalls - the Schioppettino, the Tazzelenghe, the Malvasia of Casorzo, the Nascetta, today very popular, but also the Malvasia Bianca of Basilicata, the Nasco, and the potential they could have. These are all grapes of which we do not know anything like the best exposures, the best soils, the best rootstocks, these features had great importance in the past, already drunk and appreciated in the thirteenth century, which have not disappeared (or almost disappeared) because they gave less good wines, but because of society changes, the world too”.
As we said, there are many reasons for the success or failure of a grape variety, even, or perhaps above all, historical, “this country was dominated by sharecropping, the farmer - remembers Ian D’Agata - in order to survive, had to produce more, and therefore the vines that produced less, or that got sick more easily, or that had to be harvested very late, were eliminated and replaced, but not because they gave bad wines, but because they were not suited to the needs of the society of the time. Today everything has changed, we live in a different world, perhaps better, perhaps worse, and we have different interests and needs, so many native vines, which were abandoned a century ago because of little interest, nowadays, however, fully correspond to the desire to drink well, in a lighter way, fresher wines that can be paired with the great dishes of Italian cuisine”.
Thus, it happens that many native vines, concludes Ian D’Agata, “have been revalued,
because there are no bad grape varieties: Dolcetto, such as Barbera, Nebbiolo, Croatina, the Malvasia Rosa, the Primitivo, the Nero d’Avola give wonderful wines, we are lucky to have them, and it is our duty to protect Italian diversity by giving space and opportunities for economic growth to the many families of Italian wine because this is a country that relies much on the wine industry”.

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