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  Editorial Issue 73, April 2009   
Italians Make It BetterItalians Make It Better  Contents 
Issue 72, March 2009 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 74, May 2009

Italians Make It Better


 Italians make it better, there is no doubt about this. Wine, of course! In a land where wine has accompanied the history and traditions of its people, this could also be normal. At least for the advantage of having a long experience from which continuously learning something, source of new suggestions and ideas. Nevertheless, despite wine had a long history in Italy, in past times the bel paese - according to an enological point of view - was not always shining and in glasses were sometimes poured wines of disputable quality. Hard to believe, twenty years ago - like many know - finding a wine in Italy worth of quality was pretty difficult: the country seemed to be submerged by an ocean of wine which could be defined in most of the cases as mediocre. There also were extraordinary exceptions, wineries and producers who were having a clear concept of quality and for which they were ready to give everything, producers and wineries who made the history of Italian wine and that still today are an extraordinary reference for everyone.


 

 The recent history of Italian wine was not written by historical quality producers only: in the past few years there have been many producers - usually young - who rode the dream of making a great wine, and many of them have also been successful in this. In order to make the miracle of Italian wine it took the acquisition of a new culture and of a new relation with wine, in particular a new commercial and enological mind. For years wine in Italy was seen, in most of the cases, as a product which was expressed by quantity only: the more, the better. This concept - having its roots in the peasant's world of the past, when surviving was a pretty serious problem and not all the times was possible to put something nourishing in the dish and in the glass - wine was considered as a food, therefore they put their attention on quantity, whereas quality simply was a marginal factor, or at least, not indispensable.

 Of course good wine was liked also at those times and by those people, it certainly is not a matter of rough taste, it simply was a matter of necessity. This concept was then acquired - in culture and for habit - by most of wine producers and that for years have continued to make wine in quantity, with scarce or little attention to quality. It took a new generation, new ideas and, in particular, a new approach and a new relation to wine and to the way of making a commercial product. Wine is not considered a drink-food anymore, also thanks to the well-being of “modern” times, therefore playing the role of the beverage for the elite and not an indispensable good for surviving, expression of a “culture” sometimes rich in snob behaviors, mainly promoting the concept of “just a little, but good”. Indeed, wine has always played this role, with the only fault quality culture was something destined to rich people only, that is the ones who could afford it.

 Whereas in the other great wine making country - France - the concept of quality has always been a fundamental and identifying presupposition of wine, in Italy this characteristic has been frequently forgotten, both for social reasons as well as for historical and political reasons. In a commercial context, which is growing more and more at international level and in the competition with the producers of other countries, the survival of profits is frequently ensured by quality, provided one can afford it. In Italy was then necessary to completely reconsider the “ideas” associated to wine making and the acquisition of new and modern wine making techniques, most of them coming from France, a model of wine quality for every country of the world. Today, after twenty years of “enological revolution”, quality of Italian wine has reached very high results, certainly capable of competing with no fear with French wine, sometimes surpassing it as well.

 Italians make it better, there is no doubt about this, better than past years, and the wines produced today by many wineries do not resemble at all their very same wines produced in the past. And Italians make it better than many other countries: also in this case, there is no doubt at all. As opposed to past years, the attention of producers is now strongly focused to autochthonous grapes, and the less known and lesser varieties become to emerge, also thanks to quality production criteria. And it is on autochthonous grapes Italian producers should show the world the potentials of its huge ampelographic heritage, a richness having no equals in any other country of the world. Continuing to focusing on the “same old grapes” which from France have spread everywhere in the world, means competing with a strong and massive competition, and we should not forget - and this is not by chance - the best Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines, as to mention the most famous international grapes, are all from France.

 It is however unfortunate for everyone to be happy of one's own successes without paying any attention to the future, and this is also something Italians do when they believe they are “smarter” than the rest of the world, as the rest of the world does not stay still watching us. Countries which was believed in the past to be totally incapable of making wines, or where it was believed they could make bad wines only, are now making giant leaps, they are acquiring technologies and knowledge, obtaining year after year convincing and competitive results. For many aspects, these countries are walking the same way Italy walked thirty years ago, mainly believing in international and famous varieties, however they do not have to pay the price Italy paid when they replaced autochthonous varieties with grapes which were promising miracles. Because of this choice, Italy today pays another price, by changing route - more or less - by planting again in vineyards local varieties, today revaluated by wine making technologies and by experience which allowed the understanding of the mistakes made in the past. However, this allowed to understand grape varieties are not the only thing - although fundamental - to make a quality wine. Viva Italian wine, however let's remember the others are doing the same and continue to watch us. And sometimes they are also successful in doing better than us.

 




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  Editorial Issue 73, April 2009   
Italians Make It BetterItalians Make It Better  Contents 
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