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Focus on the vineyard, thanks to research: “the Bigot index”, to evaluate the vineyard’s quality

The Friulian agronomist Giovanni Bigot created it. Angelo Gaja: “Climate change, we have the tools to face it. But we need more research”

Wine is made in the vineyard. It is now several years that this phrase, like a mantra, resonates on the mouths of many, from the simple wine lover to the most experienced agronomist consultants. What agronomist Giovanni Bigot has done, however, is a step forward, namely to ask whether it is possible to measure the quality of a vineyard. Friulian agronomist and business consultant, he invented an index to establish the quality potential of wine starting from the plant-based on nine parameters, as already explained to WineNews: production, foliage, the relationship between leaves and production, grape health, bunch type, water stress, vigor, biodiversity, and age of the vineyard.
The method was illustrated in a Forum at the Castle of Cigognola, a wine estate in the Oltrepò Pavese owned by the Moratti family. It was the managing director Gian Matteo Baldi who wanted to present the Bigot index in the company because it has been using the index for a year.
The study is based - as Bigot points out several times - on observation, deduction, and action. Therefore, an empirical approach but supported by numerical and objective evaluations. At the base, there are twenty years of walks between Italian and international rows, all collected and archived: “my goal - explains the agronomist - was to put the vineyard back at the center of the winemaker’s work, but also to bring consumers closer to the agricultural aspect of what they drink”.

The godfather of exception was Angelo Gaja who, a few years ago, found out about Bigot’s work, contacted the consultant for a visit to Barbaresco and the vineyards of his estate. The Piedmontese entrepreneur tells of his support for the Bigot index as follows: “just think of today’s morning, how warm it is, when it should be “the days of the blackbird”. Climate change is now a daily example to approach with seriousness and serenity because there are solutions. Starting with the fact that it would be appropriate to allocate part of the 7 billion contributions for Italian agriculture to scientific research. I am thinking of natural pesticides, of yeasts that help to keep alcohol levels lower in wine, of precision viticulture that does not mean invasiveness, but intervention calibrated at the right time. We have the tools to recover what we fear to lose”. There is no contrast with the “green revolution” that in the world of wine is leading the organic and even more the trend of the “natural”, indeed, as Gaja says, if scientific parameters more and more attentive to sustainability are increasing, it is due to these phenomena: “there is no more beautiful word than natural - underlines the Langa producer - because it leads you to think that there is something less manipulated. So it happened that thanks to a small percentage of producers, the whole world of wine has found itself at a turning point: it was no longer possible not to bring in new tricks and not to try to do better than in the past”. And it is in this need of change that, according to Gaja, is inserted a method like Bigot’s one that can be done by anyone who downloaded the 4grapes application, which is necessary to record data and through which it is possible to get the final value of the index expressed in hundredths.
We are talking, therefore, about a tool of self-evaluation that serves to set a level/result to improve the following vintages, to classify the vineyards, to organize the harvest choices. And also to know the economic value of the vineyard. Among the speeches also that of Professor Stefano Poni (lecturer at the Catholic University of Piacenza) who underlined “how a challenge is still open, that is to demonstrate how much the data of this index remains valid as the environment, climate and soil changes vary”.

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