Allegrini 2018

In Franciacorta, innovation passes through functional biodiversity and rediscovery of the Erbamat

From the Festival Franciacorta the importance of spontaneous plants in the rows and the role of the native vine in the bubbles of tomorrow

Franciacorta continues to work on innovation with two pilot experiences, a test of “functional biodiversity” to increase sustainability in the vineyard and the inclusion of the grape variety of ancient cultivation Erbamat in the cuvée, next to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Blanc (in different percentages and more than 10% currently required in the regulation), shown in the Festival of Franciacorta, a fixed appointment dedicated to one of the most beloved and prestigious wine territories in Italy, with events spread among wineries, street food, trekking and culture, from Berlucchi to Barone Pizzini, from Bellavista to Bersi Serlini, from Ca' del Bosco to Castello Bonomi, from Cavalleri to Contadi Castaldi, from Corte Aura to Ferghettina, from La Montina to Majolini, from Tenuta Montenisa della Marchesi Antinori to Monte Rossa, from Mosnel to Ricci Curbastro, from Uberti to Villa Franciacorta.
“Functional biodiversity” (recently the subject of a document of collective responsibility of the OIV - International Organisation of Vine & Wine) is also pursued by sowing herbaceous plants among the vines which, with their nectar, attract useful insects to improve the balance of the vineyard ecosystem and the quality of the grapes and wine:
that is what is being studied at Corte Bianca, a small organic farm in Provaglio di Iseo (Brescia) , selected in the project of the Consorzio Franciacorta on biodiversity, for the presence of spontaneous plants, hedges and groves close to the vineyard.
“For the Festival we always organize a cultural occasion - explains Marina Tonsi, owner of Corte Bianca, with her husband Mauro Franzoni - to transfer to the enthusiasts one of the many tiles that make up the mosaic of “making bio” on which it is difficult for the consumer to get an idea juggling between the true and false information that circulates on the net without filter. We have been organic since the beginning, because we ourselves live here and we consider it a priority to safeguard the environment and our health. And these tests, which we have welcomed with enthusiasm, take bio far beyond the precepts of the disciplines. Those who do research have extra gear to improve what we, as producers, are doing”.
Today, wine-growing is no longer just about income and the quality of wines, but also about reducing residues, about the coexistence of wine-growing and the inhabitants of the production areas and about environmental, economic and social sustainability. “Only by integrating these aspects - began Enrico Marchesini of Agrea Centro Studi - viticulture can have a future. In classical ecology, the stability of an ecosystem is as high as its biodiversity. This is certainly not the situation in the current vineyards where we plant clones, that are individuals genetically equal to themselves. Functional biodiversity is the instrument with which a productive context can be stabilized. Thus herbaceous plants that flower, such as buckwheat, alyssum, clover, phacelia, attract predatory and parasitoid insects that help to combat harmful insects. Plants that also enrich the soil with organic matter. There is also an aesthetic aspect: the beauty of the vineyard when these essences bloom”.
The quality of grapes and wines, therefore, goes hand in hand with high biodiversity. “In our surveys of more than 100 vineyards in different contexts in almost all regions of Italy - stressed Pierluigi Donna of Sata Studio Agronomico - we found that the vineyards with the highest score of biodiversity are those in which the companies historically make the wines reserve, demonstrating how there is coincidence between high biodiversity and quality. Quality is increasingly pursued at Castello Bonomi, one of the four companies of Casa Paladin, which, for ten years, has supported the challenge of recovery and enhancement of the native Erbamat undertaken by the Consorzio Franciacorta.
Erbamat ripens one month after Chardonnay and has a good acidity, particularly malic, capable of compensating at least in part for the risk of acidity reduction in base wines. Acidity which, in the sparkling bases, is a fundamental element of freshness and longevity.
“It is a matter of having a far-sighted vision - said Carlo Paladin, with Roberto Paladin, head of the group that has sustainability as its flagship - to give qualitative continuity to Franciacorta, also in the light of climate change, but not only. The introduction of Erbamat, strongly desired by Silvano Brescianini, now president and then vice-president of the protection organization, also aims to introduce a variety of territory alongside the international ones. A change that, in the future, could represent a springboard for those markets that are interested in native Italian varieties”.
“Carlo and Roberto Paladin are sensitive to innovation - said Leonardo Valenti of the University of Milan to whom the Consorzio di Tutela Franciacorta has entrusted the study of the autochthonous - we have also done a lot of experimentation here, under the supervision of Luigi Bersini, chef de cave, and the enologist Alessandro Perletti, to study the behavior of Erbamat on the different land of the company, making separate vinifications, trying cuvées at different percentages, exceeding the 10% currently provided for in the regulations. The aim of the study is to introduce Erbamat into the cuvée, to which it brings freshness, without upsetting the profile of Franciacorta”.
10% of Erbamat currently allowed is destined to increase ( currently there are 7 hectares): more and more companies are showing interest because of the products derived from it and now convinced of its substantial aromatic neutrality. And the Consortium has registered the name “Mordace”, which in the future may be the mention for the classic Franciacorta method produced with Erbamat, as now happens for Satén, which mainly involves Chardonnay with Pinot Blanc. The Coccaglio winery is the only company among the five that joined the project in 2010 to have included, since 2011, the Erbamat in different percentages with the international and during the Festival del Franciacorta proposed the wines in a vertical tasting that has brought out all the potential of the native. And to enhance the Erbamat, Castello Bonomi has produced a “quality sparkling wine”: the Cuvée 1564 (a date that refers to the first mention of the Erbamat by Agostino Gallo). Very few bottles and four vintages available, which combine the acidity of Erbamat (present at 40%), the structure of Pinot Noir (30%) and the elegance of Chardonnay (30%). Barone Pizzini (Provaglio di Iseo-Brescia) and his dg Silvano Brescianini, who has always been the banners of the Erbamat, have instead focused on a percentage of 60% in the “Tesi1” and on a stay of 60 months on the yeasts.

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