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  Editorial Issue 24, November 2004   
The Taste of HomologationThe Taste of Homologation MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 23, October 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 25, December 2004

The Taste of Homologation


 Since many years wine is subject of - or better, it is having again - a new and sensational interest from consumers and communication media. From noble beverage destined to few elects, in case it was good, or deprecable vice, in case it was bad, wine has been consecrated as a status symbol, a sign of a refined and fashionable lifestyle in these times where appearing is more important than being. Of course wine is no exception to this new and modern rule. Everything started as a noble attempt to the revaluation of the tradition and culture of our millenary and beloved beverage, today the scene is very different and speculation, not only economic speculation, got the upper hand of the scene. Wine has become a fashion, one of the many, in which it is enough to tell the name of two or three “sensational” labels or of important and famous grapes in order to considered as real connoisseurs.

 As everyone knows, appearance is now a such important and strategic issue in interpersonal relations that few - being afraid of not appearing as good as others - dare to investigate a little whereas others are incapable of saying anything enlightened by such a charisma. It takes so little to become real wine experts and to impress people: two “magic” words spoken at the right time while relying on other's ignorance and in the hope of not being taken with the hands in the jam jar. Since many years in the world of wine, some words words have become “magic” and they seem to turn into gold everything they touch, just like the legendary philosophers' stone of King Midas. Among these words - with no doubt - are to be included the names of the now renowned and abused “international” grapes. Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc - just to mention few examples - are grapes which reached such a high notoriety - even though it would be more appropriate to say these are the grapes with which they speculated the most - that the presence of one of these grapes in a wine seems to promise divine nectars of indisputable value.


 

 After a premise like that we think it is appropriate to make our opinion clear. Of course we are not against the use of these grapes, we truly know they are capable of making very great wines, however we are also aware of the fact these grapes - alone - are not enough to make very great wines. How many wines from Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Loire Valley, made with the grapes used in our example, could be mentioned? Many, more than many. France was - and still is - a strong enological reference for all the wine producing countries of the world and there are still many to believe the French success is because of the usage of certain grapes. There are probably many who did not realize that in French wine labels the name of the grapes used for making that wine is never mentioned, and of course this is not because they want to keep “certain secrets” hidden. French enology is strongly based on the concept of the importance of territory and of its contribution in making a wine unique. Of course, wine is made from grapes, but grapes themselves cannot turn into wine, they need many other factors such as the intervention of man and the characteristics of the territory.

 We do not want to support the idea in labels should not be mentioned the grapes used for making a wine, indeed, we support the most transparent clearness and that consumers should be provided with every useful information in order to understand a product, including grapes. What we like to emphasize is that in their places of origin, these grapes - now defined as “international” although in those places considered as autochthonous - do not benefit of the same notoriety and interest which is found in other countries. Nevertheless, according to the success of Merlot and Chardonnay - just to mention two examples - it would be in the French's interests to clearly state the name of these grapes in the labels: this would be an indisputable commercial advantage. For the French it is the cru to be considered as the most important factor and this is what it is emphasized in labels. Could it be Mother Nature has been so benevolent with France only by giving it memorable wine lands as to undervalue the grape factor? Experience and facts clearly tell us it is not like that. Memorable wine lands are found in many countries of the world.

 Despite of these considerations, the use of certain grapes in wines seems to ensure a good success, this is what can be seen according to the preferences of consumers and of market. Producers themselves keep on saying that since many years the wines made with the so called “international” grapes sell better than the ones made with autochthonous grapes. Maybe this could explain the reason why of the revisions of traditional and famous wine areas' disciplinary in which are being introduced, for the first time in their history, grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In these areas the territory factor seems not to be enough for the commercialization of their wines, however it is more likely the causes are to be found somewhere else. It would be interesting to see the effect of the introduction of Sangiovese in Bordeaux or Nebbiolo in Bourgogne, as to make comparisons. Who knows why the French have never had this idea? To tell the truth in many areas they are trying to revaluate the quality of their territory - including grapes - and this seems to be the beginning of a new trend which is slowly getting more and more popular in the name of ancient and romantic traditions. These certainly are remarkable initiatives which however could not be enough in order to give recognizability and appreciation to the quality of a territory which is indisputable different from any other.

 Revaluation examples of the wines of a territory and of its grapes are so many that it seems so hard to believe to what is happening today. There are many producers who were successful in revaluating the resources of their territories and that contributed to the success of other producers and of their areas while maintaining a cultural and traditional diversity. We are not against international grapes, once again we go over and over our conviction, so evident in facts, that these grapes, as well as the territory in which they are being cultivated, are capable of making wines of primary magnificence and elegance. The problem is that since many years it seems consumers are getting more and more bored by those wines “all different although all the same” having in common a too much homologated and expected taste, most of the cases made with the same grapes. Maybe it is also the consumers' fault, probably too lazy and attracted by appearance and not interested in substance at all, who do not have the curiosity - let us also add - the intelligence of understanding the value of difference. There are thousands of wines from all over the world - different and interesting - a wealth we should be capable to value and safeguard. International grapes have a great and indisputable enological value, however they are not the only ones with which can be made great wines. Hurray for the difference!

 



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  Editorial Issue 24, November 2004   
The Taste of HomologationThe Taste of Homologation MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 23, October 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 25, December 2004

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 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.

 

What is the difference between Moscato di Pantelleria and Passito di Pantelleria?
Carlo Nocera -- Palermo (Italy)
Moscato and Passito di Pantelleria certainly are among the most representative sweet wines of Italy and it is hard to find someone who does like them. Sweet, thick, aromatic and charming, they are good companions of piquant cheese and confectionery. These wines are produced with Muscat of Alexandria grape - locally called Zibibbo - cultivated in vineyards encircled by low walls and vines are usually planted in holes dug in the soil in order to shelter them from strong winds and to keep rain's water. Moscato di Pantelleria is produced with late harvest grapes and the must is allowed to macerate with skins for a short time in order to enrich it with the typical aromas. Moscato di Pantelleria must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 12.5% and residual sugars from 1 and 5 %. Passito di Pantelleria is produced with late harvest grapes subsequently dried under the sun, the minimum alcohol by volume is of 14% and residual sugar that can also be as high as 12%. Both versions can be produced as liquoroso (fortified) in case it is being added ethyl alcohol of Muscat brandy. Moreover, Moscato Naturale di Pantelleria is produced with late harvest grapes to which it is added a small part of slightly dried grapes.



I like Champagne and I like the appreciation of two particular qualities: perlage and aromas. In case I use the classical flûte, the perlage develops very well but aromas vanishes very rapidly, in case I use a larger glass, the perlage vanishes rapidly but aromas are more accentuated. Is there any solution to this problem?
Jean-Marc Métrat -- Lyon (France)
Champagne aromas, in particular those of vintage Champagnes allowed to age in the bottle on their lees for many years, certainly are penalized when a flûte glass is being used. Despite this glass is excellent for the slow and continuous development of perlage, it strongly penalizes the development of aromas. On the contrary, larger glasses, such as the ones used for mature white wines, are excellent for the appreciation of aromas but, because of their large surface exposed to the air, perlage rapidly vanishes because of a quick release of carbon dioxide. This also causes the loss of effervescence that in Champagne - as well as in classic method sparkling wines - plays an important role in the determination of balance. This inconvenience can be fixed in two ways, of which the latter is strongly advisable. The first solution consists in frosting the bottom of the cup in order to make the so called effervescence point - a small circle of 3-5 millimeters of diameter is enough - whereas the second solution consists in using a large glass with a small and deep conical bottom - a solution which is also adopted by many sparkling wines production consortia, such as Champagne and Franciacorta - which allow the development of aromas as well as of perlage. A picture of the glass adopted by the Franciacorta producers consortium is shown in the report “Matching Food with Sparkling Wines” published in DiWineTaste Issue 9, June 2003.



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  Editorial Issue 24, November 2004   
The Taste of HomologationThe Taste of Homologation MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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