Allegrini 2018

Quality, research, storytelling: the three pillars for the growth of the great Tuscan wine

The reflections of producers and institutions on the future of one of the most important wine regions, strong in a growing wine economy

Tuscany, one of the strongest brands in the world, a land where the Renaissance, the Middle Ages, and modernity are mixed between town and country, owes much of its modern fame to the world of wine, with the Granducato as the absolute protagonist of wine on a national and international level. A production value, that of Tuscan wine, which exceeds 1 billion euros, with a huge share, due to the PDO wines (56), which alone are worth, according to estimates, 793 million euros. A wine pioneer of the widespread beauty of the many territories, a wealth that comes from 59.000 hectares of vineyards where some of the most famous wines in the world are produced (95.8% DOCG or DOC, well above the national average of 62%), for a production in 2019 of almost 2.6 million hectoliters (Ismea data), and an export that, in 2018, was almost one billion euros in value, between January and September 2019 grew by 6.6%, reaching 734 million euros in the first nine months of the year (Istat data).
One bottle out of 2 ends up abroad, especially in the USA and Germany, which alone are worth half of Tuscany’s wine exports. From this solidity, the result of a great past and investments of the producers, but also of the Institutions (178 million euros of CMO funds provided by the Region in 10 years for the restructuring and conversion of vineyards) the Tuscany of wine can plan a great future, which is made up of investments for further growth in the quality and price positioning of Tuscan wines, from investments in wine tourism, but also in research. It is the “Vision 2030” of wine-producing Tuscany that kicked off the “Week of Previews”, opened in Florence, where you can breathe great optimism, even for the news coming from the U.S., which, at least for now, will not introduce duties on Italian wine.

“I asked Trump to wait until today to give the news - joked the Councillor for Agriculture of the Region of Tuscany, Marco Remaschi - but it is really important, the USA is the first market for Italy and also for Tuscany. Our wine system is healthy, even if there are some shadows, like this scaremongering, which I think is excessive, about the Coronavirus and Asia, which for us is a very important market both as export of wine and as an incoming tourist in our territories. However, I am convinced that with the collaboration between institutions, consortia, and producers we can still grow a lot. Focusing, for example, on wine tourism: Tuscany was the first region to make a law on the subject because it is very important to let the world know where the quality of our products comes from, which we have to enhance more. It is an important sign that, except the Bolgheri denomination, which is small but very important, and which has requested and obtained a growth of 180 hectares of vineyards enrolled in the DOC, all the other appellations wanted to keep the registers of their vineyards closed. It means that there is a widespread awareness that growth must move from increasing quality and value, not quantity. We, as a Region, have always been at the side of companies: in 10 years we have put 75 million euros in the field, through the CMO, for promotion in third countries, and other resources for EU markets, through the Psr, and we have contributed with 230 million euros to the restructuring of the vineyards put in place by the companies. Continuing along this path, I am convinced that we will grow again, in the markets of the world. We have great prospects especially in Asia and the Middle East, but we must promote ourselves as Tuscany, united. From many consortia comes the proposal to include the label “Toscana” (as already done by the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano), because it is a brand that has a great added value. And then together we are all stronger”.
“The Tuscany of wine is actually in good health, and the export of PDO wines alone at the end of the year, according to our estimates, should grow in volume and keep pace in value. While, for example, our estimates show that the Tuscany of wine has grown in purchases by 6.3%, twice the national average of +3.2%,” stressed Ismea director Fabio del Bravo.
A Tuscany of wine loved in the world and loved at home, as also underlined by Francesco Mazzei, president of Avito, the association of all the Wine Consortiums of Tuscany. “There are interesting indicators, our top labels are consistently at the top of the most important charts such as “Wine Spectator”, we are the second largest region of Italy in terms of exports, well distributed in the world. And we are also growing in the secondary market, as Liv-Ex points out. A growth that will continue, not by quantitative increases, but by working on added value, quality, biodiversity, image. We must also grow in the mid-range, because in this segment we still have inadequate positioning, and not in line with other important territories in the world. We must never stop at promotion, and we need more consultation between consortia, which is why Avito was born, and institutions. We need to do more research to look to the future, invest more: on average Tuscany produces 300,000 million bottles per year, a penny per bottle would mean 3 million euros per year to be allocated to research. On which we also need the commitment of the institutions”.
Innovation and promotion, therefore, to make the Tuscany of wine growing. Or, in other words, research and storytelling, those that have led the history of Nesos wine to capture, from the Island of Elba, the attention of the world, as explained by Professor Attilio Scienza, of the University of Milan, who oversaw the project together with the producer Antonio Arrighi, recovering the practice of the immersion of grapes in the sea, as in Ancient Greece it was done in Chios, from which the wine was defined “of the rich”.
“It’s a fascinating story, the wine of Chios had a secret, an aroma that the wines transported by ship at the time did not have. At that time the wines - explains Science - had a high alcohol content, Hesiod’s technique was to dry the grapes for 3 weeks in the sun, which concentrated the sugars but destroyed the aromas. In Chios, they had discovered that by putting these grapes in the sea the drying process was accelerated because it removed the wax from the skin of the berry, and therefore the aromatic outfit was better maintained. And then they let Prassitele draw the amphora, a very important artist at the time, and it was an extraordinary marketing intuition. It was a very successful wine, and the ships that brought it from Greece to Europe returned loaded with metals and often formed on the Island of Elba. A few years ago archaeologists came across these amphorae of Chios, which were so many that they began to doubt their origin. And in fact, it was discovered that the Etruscans reproduced amphorae, and, in some way, sophisticated wine. In any case, another research started from there to discover the vine they used in Chios, and it turned out to be Ansonica. A beautiful example of experimental archaeology. So Arrighi approached me and we decided to field the project, we found these baskets that are used to catch lobsters, then dipped the grapes in the sea, then on the trellis, then we vinified it in amphora and made the first wine. We thought it had ended like that, and instead this project has triggered an incredible international curiosity. I understood that there is a colossal demand in the world for stories, but there is also a lack of stories told on our part, even though we have an incredible amount of material to tell. We have to produce stories, we have to learn the ability to tell. The stories that are in the academic world are many, they have to be told, and we will have conquered young people too, it is the soul of that wine, you can’t stop at sensory profiles”.
And the narration of beauty and goodness is also at the center of the “talking cellars” created by the Orcia Doc Consortium, as told by the president Donatella Cinelli Colombini, “a small Consortium made of small cellars which, however, is in the most beautiful territory in the world, that Val d’Orcia which was the first agricultural territory recognized by UNESCO. And now, with these wine cellars that will be found in the local restaurants, which will keep the wines at the ideal temperature but which above all will show the beauty of the territory on the screens, in a sort of “liquid postcard” to tell those who taste the wines, to those millions of tourists and hikers who visit the Val d’Orcia, who are drinking the most beautiful territory in the world”.
Messages, ideas and stories coming from PrimAnteprima, which sees in the glass the wines of Carmignano, Chianti Rufina, Colline Lucchesi, Maremma Toscana, Montecucco, Orcia, Terre di Pisa and Valdarno di Sopra, and which launches the “Settimana delle Anteprime”, which will continue with “Chianti Lovers”, edited by the Consorzio Vino Chianti e Morellino di Scansano (Fortezza da Basso), “Chianti Classico Collection”, by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico (Stazione Leopolda in Florence), Anteprima Vernaccia di San Gimignano, by the Consorzio del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano (San Gimignano), Anteprima Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, by the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Montepulciano), “Benvenuto Brunello” 2020, by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (Montalcino).

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