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Consorzio Vini Doc Sicilia, 131 new alleged clones of Sicilian vine varieties identified

It is the latest in the project to clonal selection and recovery of the island’s ancient grape varieties, a biodiversity borne of more than 3,000 year

In the scientific project of clonal selection and recovery of Sicily’s ancient vines, against the backdrop of tests conducted both in the laboratory and in the field, 131 new alleged clones of the different vine varieties now being approved have been identified. This is the important news, revealed by the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Doc Sicilia, committed to the action of protecting and preserving the biodiversity generated by the more than 3,000 years of history of viticulture in Sicily, to protect and enhance the island’s ampelographic richness, but also to develop an approach to Sicilian oenology capable of combining tradition and high quality in a scenario of continuous transformation. “This is an extraordinary step forward in a journey that started way back”, says Consortium President Antonio Rallo. Since 2003, the Region of Sicily's Department of Agriculture has entrusted the Universities of Palermo and Milan and the Experimental Institute for Plant Pathology in Rome with the scientific coordination and monitoring of the operational actions of the Clonal Selection Project: through numerous stages, Rallo continues, “this challenging and complex project has led in 2018 to the great goal of enrolling new varieties in the National Register of Grapevine Varieties. This was a new starting point from which two important projects resulted, which have as their common denominator the purpose of providing, over time, Sicilian companies with the possibility of purchasing certified material from local nurseries, so that they can then use it in the planting of new vineyards”. An immense value from the biological point of view, then, but also an important cultural and economic resource the one that through these project strands Sicilian wine ine is pursuing.
“Given its richness and importance, it is useful and proper to study, enhance and safeguard the Sicilian viticultural biodiversity”, stresses Rosario Di Lorenzo, president of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine, “which is why the objective of the project “Valorization of viticultural germplasm” is to produce Sicilian vines with certification attesting to their sanitary integrity and varietal identity, and to give value and support to the quality of Sicilian wines. Well, the 2023 results identify 73 for Nero D’Avola, 29 for Grillo and 26 for Lucido, respectively, the “candidate clones” awaiting agronomic, oenological and sanitary evaluation over the next few years”.
The result is a step in a process that, by its very nature, develops over long and sometimes complex cycles. “Let us remember”, concludes Antonio Rallo, “that the biological diversity of the vine is the result of thousands of years of selection and is determined by mutations, gene recombination and the effect of selective pressures operated by climate and man. It is therefore a legacy that nature and our ancestors have left us and that once destroyed cannot be replenished. Hence our commitment to the protection, but also the recovery of the very rich Sicilian viticultural heritage, as well as the great intravarietal and genetic wealth of the Island”.

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