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Trento DOC: Méthode Champenois from the Dolomites

 

I first discovered sparkling wine from Trento made by Methode Champenois when someone gave me a bottle of Ferrari. I tried other producers from the region and have been a fan of the sparkling wine ever since.

The story of Trento DOC sparkling wines begins with Giulio Ferrari, a young wine maker, when he was a student at the Instituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige.

During his study trips in France he noticed a similarity between the Champagne region of France and that of Trentino.

He became convinced that the local terroir of Trentino was perfect for the Chardonnay grape and that by using the metodo classico (Méthode Champenois), he could make great sparkling wine. He became the first person to plant Chardonnay in Trentino and in 1902 he began his company and it became very successful.

As the methode classico wines of the region became more important the collected trademark Trento DOC was created. It now represents 45 sparkling wine producers and Trento DOC can be found on their labels. There are strict production regulations: meticulous selection of grapes, only from Trentino, secondary fermentation in the bottle, prolonged contact with yeasts and subsequent aging. Chardonnay and Pinot Nero are the principle varieties but Pinot Bianco and Meunier are also used.

Recently Trento DOC invited me to a tasting of methode classico sparkling wines. I was very impressed by them.

Borgo dei Posseri “Tananai” made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. There are 7,000 vines per hectare and the vineyards are at 520 to 720 meters. The training system is guyot. The wine remains in stainless steel for 8 months and 38 months of aging on the lees. It has hints of white peach, white flowers and a hint of honey.

Cantina Rotaliana at Mezzolombardo (cooperative) “Redor” Riserva made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The winery is located in the small village of Mezzolombardo at the foot of the Dolomites. The training system is Trentino pergola. The soil is dry of medium consistency, limestone and chalk. Harvest is by hand the third and fourth week of August. There is a soft pressing of the grapes with fermentation of the must both in steel and in small oak vats. In spring a second fermentation takes place in the bottle with prolonged contact with the lees for at least 80 months. After aging remuage is followed by disgorgement and addition of liqueur expedition. After disgorgement the wine remains in bottle for 3 months before release. Residual sugar 6.0 g/l. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with a touch of cinnamon.

Cantine Ferrari In 1952 Bruno Lunelli took over the winery and today the third generation of the family runs the company.

Perlé Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast.

They also produce the Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore which is one of my favorites. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees. They do not make this wine in every year.

Maso Martis The winery is located at the foot of Mount Calision (aka Mount Argentario) surrounding Trento at 450 meters. The winery was established in 1986 and they have 29.6 hectares of vineyards.

Brut NV made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30 Chardonnay. The training system is vine trellising: guyot, there are 5,000 vines per hectare, organic cultivation with ICEA certification. The grapes are picked in clusters gently crushed. After fermentation the wines are drawn off the gross lees, and the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are blended. The wine is stored partly in steel tanks and partly in barrels, and is bottled the following spring together with cultured yeast. After 52/60 months on the fine lees, the bottles are manually riddled and the wine is disgorged and bottle. Residual sugar 6.00 g/l. This is an elegant wine with nice fruit and hints of yeast and brioche and good acidity I was very impressed by all of their wines.

Rotari Winery is part of the Mezzacorona Group for the production of sparkling wine using the Method Classico. The vineyards are in the heart of the Dolomites in Trentino.

Brut Rosé NV made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyards are at 400 to 500 meters. The grapes are hand selected from our wine growers and brought into the cellars. The training system is the double Trentino Pergola. The wine is vinified in stainless steel (no oak) with selected yeasts. The wines are aged in stainless steel until February, then processed according to the champagne method with maturation on the lees in the bottle for at least 24 months. Only the Chardonnay basic wines are subject to malolactic fermentation in order to smooth down the acidity of the Pinot Noir and increase the roundness. The wine has hints of blackberry, cherry and raspberry with slightly yeasty notes.

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Four Master Pizzaioli at Kesté

Last week I received a text from Roberto Caporuscio of Keste Wall Street that he was making pizza with three other famous pizzaioliz that night. I had plans for dinner but as soon as dinner was over I  jumped in a cab and arrived just time as Roberto was making a Tiella “pie” a speciality from the town of Gaeta.

The filling.  Escarole, squid and black olives.

Ready for the oven.

Roberto shaving truffles on the Tiella– this would never happen in Gaeta.

The finished Tiella.

 

John Arena  made a pizza from an American flour that he developed.

Roberto  made a Roman style pizza.

 

The finished Roman pizza. Better than in Rome

Vincent Rotolo

The other Pizzaioli were Nino Coniglio and Vincent Rotolo.

New York Style Pizza or Detroit Style. Depends on where you live

Square Pizza Sicilian style – The best of this style I ever tasted!

An evening of great pizzaioli making great pizzas at Keste!  I only wish I had gotten there earlier to taste all of them.

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Le Potazzine: Traditional Brunello at its Best

Gigliola Giannetti, owner of Le Potazzine winery, and her daughters Viola and Sofia met me for breakfast at Tarrallucci e Vino in NYC, a meeting arranged by Riccardo Gabriele of PR Vino. That night, I would meet them again for a dinner featuring their wines at La Pizza Fresca but it was a pleasure to get to know them when we could just sit and talk.

Gigliola explained that potazzine is the Italian word for the very colorful and vivacious birds which inhabit the Tuscan country side. In Montalcino, grandparents and parents often use potazzine as a term of endearment for children. Viola and Sofia were affectionately nicknamed potazzine by their maternal grandmother.

Viola, Sofia and Gigliola

At the dinner that night, Gigliola spoke about the winery and the wines. The estate consists of five hectares of vineyards in Brunello. Three hectares are located close to the winery at 507 meters and the average age of the vines is 14 years. The rest are located in the area of Sant’Angelo in Colle and are at 340 meters and were planted in 1996. The training system is unilateral cordon and there are 6,0000 vines per hectare. She said the wines are made in the most natural way meaning natural fermentation with indigenous yeast, long maceration, and aging in medium-sized oak barrels of 30 to 50 HL of the Garbellotto Company, in compliance with tradition for both the Brunello and the Rosso.

The Brunello is usually aged in barrels for 40 months and the Riserva produced only in the 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2015 vintages remains in wood for about 60 months.

They have always worked organically and beginning in 2019 the wines will be certified organic. The rosso remains in wood for 12 months even though there are no specific aging requirements.

Rosso di Montalcino 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese. The grapes come from two distinct vineyards the winery property Le Plata which has a southwest exposure at 500 meters and La Torre with a southeast exposure at 320 meters. The wine is aged in big oak barrels of 10, 30 and 50 HL for 12 months. It remains in the bottle for an additional 5 months before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, violets and a touch of herbs. This is a wine that can age for a few more years but is drinking very well right now.

At the La Pizza Fresca dinner, we enjoyed it with Beef Carpaccio.

Brunello di Montalcino 100% Sangiovese it is aged in oak barrels of 30 and 50 HL for 42 months and 8 more months in bottle before release. These are complex and elegant wines with hints currants, balsamic, violets, red fruit and a touch of herbs. They will age for a long time.

Here are the wine and food matches we enjoyed for the following vintages:

2013 — Mezzi Rigatoni con Polpettine

2012 — Pizza Margherita

2011 — Pizza Salame Piccante

2010 and 2007 — Manzo Brasato al Vino Rosso with the last two wines.

It was an enjoyable dinner and the food was well matched with these traditional Brunellos.

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Tasting Sicily and Firriato Wine at Norma Gastronomia

I have a long history with the wines of Firriato from Siciily, and Salvatore Fraterrigo, chef/owner of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana. I first tasted Firriato wines when I was the wine director for I Trulli restaurant in NYC, and shortly after, Salvatore became the restaurant’s chef.

When Michele and I went to Sicily, we visited the Firriato estate near Trapani. We were treated to a typical Sicilian lunch paired with their wines and learned to appreciate them even more.

Salvatore with a cuscus bowl

Both Salvatore, known as Toto, and I are Sicilian and we became friends. He would come to our apartment to cook and we traveled in Sicily with him. Salvatore once had owned a restaurant in Trapani and he told me that he had the Firriato wines on his wine list. He even knew the owners of the winery Salvatore and Vinzia Di Gaetano.

When Daniela Pugliesi asked me to host a lunch for journalists with the wines of Firriato I suggested we hold it a Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, Salvatore’s restaurant. I knew we would have Sicilian food like we had in Sicily.

Federico

The speaker for the event was Federico Lombardo di Monte, the COO of the winery. He said that Firriato is a family run business. The president is Salvatore Di Gaetano and the CEO is Vinzia Novara Di Gaetano. Irene Di Gaetano Lombardo di Monte Iato is the Chairman.

Federico said that Firriato is comprised of 6 estates, four of which are near Trapani: Baglio Soria, Borgo Guanini — the largest with over 140 hectares of vineyards, Pianoro Cuddia and the Dagala Borromeo. On the east coast near Mount Etna is the Cavanera estate that has 11 hectares of vines. The Calamoni estate is on the island of Favignana, one of the Egadi Islands off the coast of Trapani.

Glasses of Gaudensius NV Blanc des Noirs Metodo Classico Brut Etna DOC greeted the guests as they entered the restaurant. It is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese from the Northeastern slopes of Mt. Etna at 650 meters. The soil is sandy with good drainage. There are 3,500 plants per hectare and they are cordon Royat trained. Harvest is by hand the last week of September.There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The second fermentation (Classic Method) is in the bottle. The juice is in contact with the yeast for 32 months with frequent “Coup de poignet” to enhance the complexity of the bouquet and taste. Sugar is 8g/l on average. This is an elegant and complex spumante with hints of berries, brioche and currants with a long finish and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

One of the journalists, Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies praised this wine so much he was given a bottle to take home.

The Firriato wines that I will discuss in this post are those that I did not write about in a previous post. For more information see:https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/firriato-sicilian-wine-at-its-best/

Le Sabbie dell’ Etna Bianco DOC 2016 made from Carricanti and Catarrato. 

This wine was an accompaniment to Arancina Al Nero Di Seppia – Deep-fried squid ink risotto rice balls filled with spicy shrimp ragu. These were moist and flavorful inside with a crusty brown breadcrumb coating.

Altavilla DOC Sicilia 2016 made from 100% Grillo from the Trapani countryside at the Borgo Guarini estate. The soil is of medium mixture mostly clay. The exposure is westerly and at 250 meters. The vines are cordon trained and spur pruned/guyot and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation lasts for 15 to 18 days at a controlled temperature. The grapes are soft pressed and remain on the lees for 3 months with daily shaking. The wine remains in the bottle for two months before release. The wine has hints of tangerine, grapefruit, melon and sage and a touch of almond.

Crocchette di Baccala Con Salsa Ali-Oli — Salt cod coquettes in sesame crust were served with aioli sauce. The cod filling was creamy and delicate and the sesame seeds made a crisp coating, perfect for dunking in the aioli.

Jasmin IGT Terre Sicilane 2016 made from 100% Zibibbo from the Trapani countryside at the Borgo Guarini Estate. The soil is mid-mixed, mostly clay. The exposure is west at 300 meters and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The vines are cordon trained, spur pruned/guyot. Harvest is by hand the last week of August.Fermentation lasts for 20 days at a controlled temperature. The grapes are soft pressed and then spend 3 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks with daily shaking. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 months before release. This is a highly aromatic and dry wine with hints of citrus, both yellow and red fruit, jasmine and a touch white flowers.

Federico pointed out that zibbibo usually is grown in Pantelleria and used to make sweet wines. This version is dry and the grapes were grown in Trapani. This is the first time I had a dry version and was very impressed by it.

Cus-Cus Trapanese Ai Frutti Di Mare – Salvatore makes the cus cus grains from scratch from semolina that he brings in from Sicily. It is a painstaking process and the results are quite different from the quick cooking variety you find elsewhere. He cooked the cus cus in a delicious sea food broth that contained clams, squid, mussels and several types of fish in a lightly spiced broth.

Le Sabbie dell’ Etna Rosso DOD 2015 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio

Caponata Palermitana Con Panelle, Caprino E Mandorle – Salvatore’s sweet and sour eggplant stew is cooked “Palermo style” and served with chick pea fritters, goat cheese, and toasted almonds.

Chiaramonte Terre Siciliane 2015 IGT 100% Nerod’Avola

Pizza “Rianata” This spicy pizza is a specialty of Sicily for lovers the flavors of garlic, anchovies, cherry tomatoes, and oregano.

Santagostino Rosso, “Baglio Soria” Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 made from Nero d’Avola and Syrah

Pasta Alla “Norma”– Salvatore uses imported durum paccheri, a large tubular pasta, and sauces it with fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil, ricotta salata cheese.

Ribeca DOC Sicily 2013 made from 100% Perricone

Anelletti Alla Palermitana in Casseruola – Tiny ring shaped baked pasta are baked in a casserole with beef & pork ragu, green peas, Italian ham, eggplant, primo sale and ricotta salata cheeses, and basil.

Harmonium Sicily DOC 2013 100% Nero d’Avola

Involitini Di Arista Alla Siciliana – Pork loin slices stuffed with a mixture of cured meat, smoked mozzarella and roasted tomato and roasted.

“L’Ecrù” Passito IGT Sicily 2008 made from Moscato and a small amount of Malmsey.

Cannoli – House made cannoli are filled with sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.

I was very pleased by the food and wine combinations chosen by Salvatore and Federico. The pairings were perfect and it was like eating and drinking in Sicily.

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Chateau Climens and Cheese a Perfect Combination

Two days after I returned from Lyon and Beaune in France, I attended a tasting of the wines of Chateau Climens, Grand Vin De Sauternes paired with cheese.

Chateau Climens is considered by many to be the number one producer in Barsac. Though Michele and I had enjoyed cheese and wine after practically every meal in France, the wines had always been red or white and I looked forward to attending.

Berenice

Château Climens’ history can be traced back to the 16th century. Lucien Lurton bought the property in 1971 and his daughter Berenice Lurton has managed the estate since 1992. In 2009 she brought the shares that belonged to her family and became the owner with 100% of the shares. We were fortunate to have Berenice as the speaker for the event.

Berenice said that the estate is located in the southern part of the Barsac appellation, just outside the small village of La Pinesse. The vineyards are all planted with Semillion grapes and lie on the highest point in Barsac at 20 meters. There are 30 hectares of vineyards stretching around the château in one continuous vineyard, which apparently has not changed since the 16th century. The soil is gravel/sandy topsoil and limestone clay subsoil. This is the “red sands of Barsac.” The average age of the vines is 35 years.

Berenice said that the micro climate of Sauternes, aided by the exceptional terroir allows for the early development of noble rot, Botrytis Cinerea. The staged harvest is meticulous in order that only grapes affected by perfectly pure botrytis are harvested. Yields can be low and vary from year to year.

The grape must undergoes fermentation in barrels without the addition of cultured yeast. This is an old technique and the only one which allows the beginning of the maceration on the lees. The wine is then aged in small oak barriques (new and used) for 20 months. The final blend takes place in vats.

Berenice said Climens is classified as a Sauternes 1er Cru Classé. In 2010 the estate was converted to biodynamic cultivation.

With the cheese we tasted 4 sauternes from Château Climens:

Cypres de Climens Barsac 2012 100%, Grand Vin De Sauternes made from 100% Semillion, like all of their wines. The winery is the only producer of single variety wines of the region.

This is the “second wine,” Berenice said, because it is the second selection from a blending, implying that there is no difference in the production process of the two wines, only the tasting deciding their future. Cyprés obeys a different idea, that of obtaining a delicious wine from an early age, while the complexity of Climens requires minimal aging of just a few years.

The wine is fresh and smooth with hints of white fruit, citrus fruit, apricot and a touch of pineapple.

Then 3 vintages of Château Climens 1st Cru Barsac Grand Vin De Sauternes 2009, 2007 and 2005

2009

2007

The 2009 and 2007 are classic Chateau Climens  wines and will only get better with age.

Berenice suggested we taste each wine with all the cheeses.

The Cheese

Saint-Nectaire (Auvergne) this is a pressed cheese matured for 6 weeks on rye straw. It is smooth but not soft, flavorful, nutty and vegetative with a touch of milk and salt.

Petite Sapin Vacherin Mont D’Or (Franche-Comté) this is a washed rind cheese ripened in spruce bark which should not be removed when serving. The cheese has a smooth, silky and buttery texture with woody and nutty flavors.

Ossau Iraty (Pays-Basque) this is a hard cheese matured for at least 6 months

Mimolette Extra-Aged (Pas-de-Calais) this is a pressed and cooked cheese matured for 18 months. The cheese is hard dry and crumbly with an orange color. It has aromas of roasted nuts with a touch of butterscotch. I kept going back to taste this cheese!

Ami Du Chambertin (French–Comté) this is a soft cheese with a washed rind by Marc de Bourgogne spirits and is matured for 1 month. It has a moist creamy texture inside, and strong sharp flavor with a savory tone.

Époisses (Bourgogne) this is a soft cheese with washed rind by Marc de Bourgogne spirits and matured for 1 month. It is creamy, firm and moist and full flavored.

Blue D’Auvergne (Auvergne) this is a blue-veined cheese matured for 3 months. This cheese is firm, buttery and slightly supple. It is full flavored, woody with spicy tones of grass and mushrooms.

Fourme d’ Ambert (Auvergne) This is a blue-veined cheese, matured for two months. It is firm without suppleness, rich and creamy, fruity and slightly salty but sweet on the palate.

All of the wines worked very well with the cheeses. 

The 2005 is fantastic. It is a complex wine with a precise balance between the sweet, acidic and bitter elements. It has hints of honey, apricot, nectarine, and marmalade,  mouth filling almost creamy with a very long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.

 

 

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Unique Grapes of Italy

There are so many grape varieties in Italy that it is impossible to know them all. It is a very humbling experience. There is always something new to discover.

PR Vino, an Italian PR agency, represents a number of wineries that produce wines from some rare varieties some of which I have never tasted or have had little experience with.

Elisa Bosco

Since I wanted to try these wines, I contacted Elisa Bosco who is in charge of the USA programs and activities for PR Vino. I asked her if she would like to do a tasting for the Wine Media Guild. Elisa agreed and sent me a list of the wineries.  I chose the most unique and interesting wines, plus a few of my favorites.  The tasting and lunch was held at Felidia Restaurant in NYC and Elisa was the speaker.

Below are the white wines plus one dessert wine.  I will do the red wines separately.

 

The White Wines

 

Trebbiano Spoletino “Farandola” (Umbria) 2016 IGT Di Filippo made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino

The winery overlooks Assisi between Torgiano and Montefalco. The soil is clayey-calcareous and the vineyards are on hillsides. Training method is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place off the skins at 18 degrees C and the wines remains in stainless steel until bottled. This is a fruity wine, rich in flavor with hints of citrus. It has good acidity and minerality. It is one of the best examples of Trebbiano I ever tasted. The Trebbiano Spoletino is native to Umbria and is different from other Trebbiano grapes.

Di Filippo has been practicing organic farming since 1994 when they were first certified according to E. U. regulations.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano “ Selvabianca” La Vernaccia di Santa Chiara 2016 DOCG (Tuscany) Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The winery is located 1.5 km from San Gimignano in the direction of Volterra.

The training system is spurred cordon and the vineyard is at 350/390 meters. No pesticides are used. Hard harvesting takes place the last week of September using boxes of 15/20kg. The best bunches are chosen directly in the vineyard and immediately conveyed to the wine cellar.

After a short maceration with the skins, fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This a well-structured wine, fresh tasting wine with hints of apple and a flower scent and balanced acidity.

 

Grechetto Colli Martani (Umbria) DOC 2016 F.lli Pardi made from 100% Grechetto. The story of the winery goes back to 1919 but the present winery began in 2003 beneath the walls of Montefalco. The soil is of sedimentary and clayey origin. All the vines are spurred cord trained and there are there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in early September.

The grapes are soft pressed and fermentation is at a constant 20 degrees C for 20 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in bottle for 2 months and released 6 months after the harvest.

 

“Le Grane” Colli (Le Marche) DOC 2016 made from 100% Ribona (aka Maceratino) Boccadigabbia. Riibona is a rare gape varietal grown only in the province of Macerata. The 23 hectares of vineyards stand on hills in two separate zones in Civitanova and Macerata.

The soil is sandy-clayey and the exposure is northeast and the training system is guyot. The grape clusters are soft crushed and fermentation lasts for about 12 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, whole slightly overripe berries are added to the wine. This second fermentation lasts for 10 days and allows an added extraction of compounds and aromatics from the skins. It is a well-structured wine with fragrances of ripe citrus fruit with a hint of melon.

This is the first time I have ever tasted a wine made from this grape. Until 1950 the estate belonged to a direct descendent of Napoleon and therefore French grapes are also planted here.

 

Lady F 2016 (Tuscany) made from 100% Orpicchio Donne Fittipaldi The grapes are hand harvested and the stalks are gently removed and then cooled to 8/10 degrees C leaving the juice in contact with the skins for 4 hours, followed by a soft pressing and cleaning of the must that is fermented in oak barrels, half and half in steel at a temperature of 16degrees C. This is a well-structured wine with hints of peach, citrus fruit and white flowers and balanced acidity. Everyone sitting at the table with me commented on how much they liked the wine. This is the first time I tasted a wine made from this grape.

One Dessert Wine 

Moscato Rosa (Alto Adige)DOC 1994 Castel Sallegg made from 100% Moscato Rosa, Kuenburg selection, indigenous variety and one of the world’s rarest grapes

The Princes of Campofranco, the ancestors of today’s owner Count George von Kuenburg, introduced this noble grape variety in 1892 when they moved from Sicily to Caldaro and Castel Sallegg.  They planted it in the warmest earth around Lake Caldaro, where it thrived.

The vineyard is at 230 meters. Soil is reddish gravel and sandstone. This warm porous soil combines with a unique microclimate on the shores of Lake Kaltern. The training system is traditional pergola. A late harvest ensures the grapes have reached a minimum sugar content of 32 degrees KMW (160 Oechsle) this is the must weight is a measure of the amount of sugar in grape juice (must), before entering mash fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 2 weeks.

The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and then for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant dessert wine with intense fragrances of roses, hints of ripe raspberries and other red berries and a touch of spice.

 

 

 

 

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Doctor Wine: More on Genetic Editing

Signed DW
Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°225
Laymen and clerics
by Daniele Cernilli 04-09-2017
Galileo-di-fronte-al-Sant-Uffizio-di-Joseph-Nicolas-Robert-Fleury-DoctorWine
Riccardo Ricci Curbastro President of Federdoc writes to DoctorWine about genetic editing and the future of winegrowing, and underlines the risk of an idealogical battle.

I received the following letter from Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, a Franciacorta producer and president of Federdoc.

“Dear Daniele,

It was with great pleasure that I read your editorial Trend Topic: Genetic editing. A pleasure because I believe that it is the future of winegrowing, the wonderful and difficult world my children are now getting involved with. I agree with everything that was said: organic methods are not less polluting (since they uses so many treatments, demand more fuel and lead to a copper build up in the soil); and biodynamic methods are difficult to accept three centuries after the Enlightenment during which time science has given answers to what could appear to be witchcraft.

If it has now clearly been accepted that vines contain genes that are “resistant” to disease, then I firmly believe the time has come to move from developing hybrids to genetic editing. The benefit would be that of not modifying the genes that distinguish a Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc but only to give the vines of both varietals the capacity to resist disease.

I have personally studied and worked with hybrids at length and seven years ago, when it was not the fashion, planted a vineyard with PIWI, a resistant, hybrid variety. The experiment worked and the vines have not needed any chemical treatments in seven years.

We are now working with other new, resistant varieties which are again hybrids but have over 95% of the original genes (Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot and so on) with only 5% of the genes from other resistant varieties. It is my hope that my children will have vineyards that are still 100% composed of the original varietal but be “cancer free” thanks to genetic editing allowing a recessive gene to become the dominate one.

Being now close to 60, I will probably see this dream come true from up above but I’m sure it will still fill me with joy there, too. Today we have opened a door to a cleaner future for our children. What dream could be better?

Thank you for putting your pen at the service of these realistic dreams… although from some of the reactions to your editorial posted on your site I can see a long, ideological battle lies ahead of us.

Best regards and hope to see you soon,

Riccardo Ricci Curbastro”

I hope this will help to clarify aspects of a question that will be central to the future of winegrowing in Italy, much the way grafting European shoots onto American rootstocks was after the phylloxera blight at the beginning of the 20th century. Genetic editing is an authentic revolution and I hope that the debate it will spark will be serious and concrete and not just the usual ideological claptrap that will confused matters by dragging up ant-scientific bias much the way clerics did during the Counter-Reformation, those who condemned Giordano Bruno to death and forced Galileo Galilei abjure, just to name a few. The arguments are different but the mentality is always the same.

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