Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
Home Page About Us:Write Us:Back Issues:Advertising:Index 
Events Polls Serving Wine EnoForum EnoGames Wine Places Aquavitae Wine Guide


   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 13, November 2003   
The Magic of AutochthonousThe Magic of Autochthonous MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 12, October 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 14, December 2003

The Magic of Autochthonous


 After a long time spent in talking and praising the charm and the supposed superiority of the so called “international” grapes, recently there is a new term which is getting more and more popular among wine lovers, modern and enchanting, which is also getting more and more used and abused: autochthonous. Perhaps it is not clear whether this is just another “fashion” which is entering the world of wine, and with that also new commercial opportunities, or it is a term capable of distinguish and further set apart the ones who talk about wine from the ones who try to get into it. According to the English language autochthonous, from Greek autóchthon, means something or someone “from its or his own land”, in our specific case, grapes originating from determined areas or regions.

 It is not clear, or however it is difficult to say, whether this new or renewed interest for autochthonous, meant as a term instead of something that could revaluate the cultural heritage of any place, is merely aiming to the enrichment of wine lovers' vocabulary or the autochthonous grapes are being revaluated just for the romantic illusion connected to the things of the past and to those traditions that are always successful in evoking images of genuineness in most of the people, as well as to what it is “good” and “better”. It should also be remembered the so called “international” grapes are foreign in the places where they are not from, but are indisputably autochthonous in the places where they are from. For example, if we consider Chardonnay grape, probably considered as the most “international” one among white berried grapes, and we also consider the region of Bourgogne, it is hard to support the idea Chardonnay is to be considered in that area as an international grape, for Burgundians Chardonnay is indisputably autochthonous!


 

 There is something we want to make clear: no one is supporting the idea Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, two examples of international grapes, are not capable of producing great wines, indeed, this is something we certainly do not support or believe at all. If we consider, for example, a Champagne Blanc de blancs, produced with Chardonnay grape only, its elegance is praised, rightly, everywhere. Is that because of Chardonnay grape? This grape certainly has an important role, however what makes these wines elegant is the region of Champagne and its unique climate and environmental conditions, last but not the least, the seriousness of producers. After all, there are so many sparkling wine in the world produced with Chardonnay grape and having scarce or mediocre quality, which is enough to understand the greatness of Champagne is not just Chardonnay. The same concept certainly applies to any other kind of grape and to any other area, with no exceptions.

 Maybe it could be that the renewed interest, or the discover, of autochthonous grapes has its origin from the necessity of knowing something new also supported by the indiscriminate invasion of so many wines “all similar, all the same”, produced with the same grapes and inevitably have the same taste and same aromas. Maybe they exaggerated the use of the so called “international” grapes and they saturated the wine market without giving opportunities for diversities therefore lowering the interest of consumers? Maybe. Or was it because they are trying to wake up the interest for wine, already high but confused by the many bottles available, and are looking for new commercial opportunities by making people believe it is new what existed since ever? It could be. In case it is really like that, there is nothing to be happy for; the hope wines and typical grapes from certain areas are finally getting revaluated, an event which is certainly appreciated for the interest of cultural richness of every consumer, is destined to a sure decline as soon as the commercial opportunity will be replaced by a new one.

 However it is indisputable the word “autochthonous” is getting more and more common among wine lovers and among the ones who are in the wine business. The use of this word is becoming frequent also among consumers which sometimes use it without knowing its exact meaning when referred to wine, maybe because they heard someone saying it and therefore it seems appropriate in order to appear like an “expert”. Sometimes happen in restaurants or in wine shops to hear clients asking “an autochthonous wine” without even knowing its exact meaning, or better, without realizing it would be better to ask “a wine made of autochthonous grapes”. That's right, but autochthonous from what place? Considerations like those make think to a new fashion now common in the world of wine, and as such it shows both advantages and dangers.

 Advantages because they contribute to increase the interest for wine and, in this case, this would be for those wines and those grapes from certain areas; dangers because from the use of a term, even worse, from the improper use, it can easily turn into abuse and it could also happen what happened for the so called “international” grapes, used everywhere and in every wine and maybe, at the end, they have been responsible for conforming the wine market too much. Who knows, maybe one day we will find out we had enough of “wines produced with autochthonous grapes” just because of the abuse of the term and not because of their correct revaluation and, who knows, that day we will also realize wines, or better, autochthonous grapes, have been only a fashion of the moment useful for taking advantage of the occasion offered by a determined circumstance. We can just hope it will not be like that. Like always we are about to take advantage from an opportunity and according to the way it will be used it can be positive or negative, a choice that, maybe, can give a new impulse to the world of wine, and above all, to the cultural richness of every wine lover.

 There is nothing wrong or contrary to “international” grapes, as well as there is nothing wrong or contrary to autochthonous grapes. We will not give up supporting this idea: grape, alone, is not the main factor for the production of a good wine. There are other fundamental factors which contribute to the production of great wines, among them, and first of all, the area of production and its characteristics, usually unique, certainly also grape and, last but not the least, the contribute every producer gives to his wines, just because it is him the first one to decide whether making a mediocre wine or a good one, taking advantage from the conditions of the land. It should be remembered the majority of grapes, that in the course of centuries got adapted to the lands of their origin, taking the best advantage of what the area could offer, when planted in other regions they do not give the same results. This certainly support the fact about “area” and its peculiar characteristics, as well as the grapes which are typical of that area since ever, are to be considered among the main elements for quality in wines. It is not by chance French insist since many centuries, rightly, to support the concept of “cru” and “terroir” instead of grape; this is the sign they realized, before than any other else, what were the real and important factors to make a great wine.

 



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 13, November 2003   
The Magic of AutochthonousThe Magic of Autochthonous MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 12, October 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 14, December 2003

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

A friend of mine positively talked to me about “vendange tardive” wines. What are they and how are they produced?
João Felipe Guimaraes -- Setúbal (Portugal)
Late harvests, called in French Vendange Tardive and in Italian vendemmia tardiva, are wines produced with grapes harvested some weeks after the official date of harvesting. This delay in harvesting allows grapes to get a higher level of ripeness as well as losing part of the water while concentrating sugar and developing more aromas. Usually late harvests are vinified by completely transforming sugar into alcohol and therefore they are dry, full bodied, rich, aromatic and with intense flavors. It should be noticed that some producers prefer to keep some residual sugar therefore giving the wine appreciable sweetness. Despite late harvests are usually produced in many countries of the world, this style of wine if typical in Alsace where it is usually produced with Gewürztraminer, Muscat Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling grapes.



What is the difference between “vin moelleux” and “vin liquoreux” produced in France?
Brigitte Heinemann -- Erlangen (Germany)
The terms moelleux and liquoreux are used in France to define two categories of wines as well as for the organoleptic and sensorial description of the qualities of a wine. While the term liquoreux can be easily translated into liquor like, the translation of moelleux is more complex. This term can be literally translated as like bone marrow, however, according to French wine parlance it is used for a wine which is soft, smooth, mellow, velvety and lush. The difference between the two categories of moelleux and liquoreux wines is however determined by their sweetness and body. Vin moelleux are usually characterized by a medium sweetness, body and roundness, whereas vin liquoreux have a pretty high sweetness, higher structure and are usually produced with grapes affected by noble rot Botrytis Cinerea, such as Sauternes and Monbazillac.






   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 13, November 2003   
The Magic of AutochthonousThe Magic of Autochthonous MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
DiWineTaste Polls
What is the most pleasing aspect in wine tasting?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   Share on Google+ 
What kind of wine do you like having in March?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   Share on Google+ 
In what moment of the day do you usually drink wine?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   Share on Google+ 


Events Polls Serving Wine EnoForum EnoGames Wine Places Aquavitae Wine Guide
Home Page About Us:Write Us:Back Issues:Advertising:Index 

Privacy Policy

Download your free DiWineTaste Card  :  Test your Blood Alcohol Content  :  Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on Twitter

Download DiWineTaste
Copyright © 2002-2019 Antonello Biancalana, DiWineTaste - All rights reserved
All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this publication and of this WEB site may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from DiWineTaste.