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How the land gives its typical aromas to wine. Tedeschi’s study, in Valpolicella

The second step of the analysis on the aromatic characterization of Cru, conducted by Professor Maurizio Ugliano of the University of Verona

Fruity, balsamic, spicy/peppery, sweet spicy: these are the four major olfactory dimensions identified for Valpolicella wines, as “olfactory markers” of the territory, thanks to a study commissioned by the Tedeschi family, one of the most prestigious griffes of Amarone, presented, in recent days, at the San Floriano University Pole, in San Pietro in Cariano, in which WineNews also took part. A second step of the analysis on the aromatic characterization of Valpolicella, clarified for the first time scientifically the mechanism that defines the territoriality of a wine, and Tedeschi's ability to preserve and enhance in his wines “the sense of place of origin” was recognized. The research, collected in a book, was carried out by Professor Maurizio Ugliano, professor of Enological Technologies and Processes and Wine identity and typicality in the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Verona and an expert on the aromatic composition of wines, their longevity and the development of winemaking practices aimed at enhancing aromatic typicality.
“With my family”, explains Riccardo Tedeschi, “we have always been committed to supporting and promoting projects that would deepen the knowledge of our territory, in order to enhance it in the vineyard and in the cellar, and to be able to promote it to consumers. The collaboration with Professor Ugliano began in 2017, with research on the aromatic characterization of Valpolicella grape varieties, the results of which were presented in 2021. Now, with this new step, it is described “scientifically”, the “aromatic signature” of our Cru” (collected in a precious archive, open to the public, which holds 50 years of Tedeschi’s Amarone history).
A first key step in the study involved defining the olfactory characteristics of wines made from the territory's main grapes, namely Corvina and Corvinone, whose blending is the basis of the balance and complexity of Valpolicella wines. Broadly speaking, wines made purely from Corvina are characterized by a greater intensity of red fruit character and floral notes, while in the case of Corvinone wines the compounds associated with vegetal and spicy notes are more present. “These are therefore two somewhat complementary profiles in the stylistic construction of Valpolicella wines, in which alongside the fruity notes, characteristic of red wines, there are floral aromas, sweet spices, pepper and tobacco”, explained Professor Ugliano, who went on to emphasize that “the experimental approach adopted was based on the combination of a highly reproducible winemaking strategy and a series of advanced chemical analyses , which made it possible to demonstrate, on wines from five different German vineyards-Monte Olmi, La Fabriseria, Maternigo (Anfiteatro, Barila, Impervio) - over the course of three consecutive vintages, the existence of what we have called a wine’s “sense of place”, that is, its ability to convey a unique range of olfactory sensations and stimuli that, taken together, are highly representative of the environment in which the grapes are grown”.
In particular, the five wines from the five different vineyards showed considerable diversity among themselves in their aromatic profile and in consecutive vintages, defining these characteristics as true molecular markers of each wine’ identity and thus of its “sense” of place. Terpenes with floral and balsamic attributes as well as dimethyl sulfide, a powerful aromatic compound with truffle notes, are central to the “sense” of place of La Fabriseria wines, especially for the Corvina variety. Monte Olmi, characterized by a unique profile of fruity aromatic esters and citrus terpenes, is different, while the wines of Tenuta Maternigo are characterized by norisoprenoids with ripe fruit characters and benzenoids associated with sweet spices, particularly for the Corvinone grape. Research has, moreover, shown that, contrary to common belief, this pool of odor-active substances includes not only compounds that are derived directly from grapes, but also other “hidden” compounds that have arisen from the complex chemical and biochemical reactions that take place during fermentation. Another key component is aging, during which powerful odor compounds strongly influenced by the grape variety and ecosystem of the vineyard of origin accumulate, further contributing to the expression of the wine’s sense of place. “Although to some extent influenced by withering and winemaking, these characteristics”, is Ugliano’s conclusion to his study, “were found to be present in both Valpolicella and Amarone-style wines, attesting to the potential of Tedeschi’s Cru wines to express the enormous diversity of Valpolicella’s places beyond winemaking practices”.

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