Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 90, November 2010   
The Wine of the SmallThe Wine of the Small  Contents 
Issue 89, October 2010 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 91, December 2010

The Wine of the Small


 Wine is a world in which live different realities, different ways of interpreting the same product seen from distinct points of view. Points of view which also give truly different results, despite all of them can be classified as “wine”. And this also depends, first of all, by the way the interpreter sees his or her wine, and - in particular - by what wants to communicate with this product and what wants in return. These two aspects defines - as a matter of fact - the characteristics of the product as well as the range and the class of consumers to which it is virtually destined. Not all wine lovers - therefore, consumers - are interested to the same type of product. Some see the wine as a simple beverage, others make of it a product for the élite, romantic and snob, for others more it is a product to be safeguarded in its cultural and traditional meaning, a value to be defended at all costs, despite fashions and trends of the time.


 

 Wine, there is no doubt about it, is a product taking its origin from a land and each land is a world on its own, made of many environmental and social factors, of cultures and traditions which unavoidably affect every single product of each land. Among producers, there are many who believe it is indispensable to listen to the land and to work in order the wines are the most faithful and genuine expression of it, while rejecting every extraneous factor to that land and which could alter - even marginally - the expression of a wine, of a territory. Producers who mainly follow this type of approach generally are the small ones, those who keep themselves away from notoriety, ignoring the comments more or less competent consumers could express about their wines. They generally do not have real commercial interests - although they work in order to get a legitimate and understandable profit - they are mainly interested in making a wine respecting a land, their land.

 This way of making wine, as opposed to what could be believed, does not mean leaving grapes, must and wine to their destiny, while waiting for nature making its course. This simply means getting the most out from the environmental conditions of a place, while ensuring a control over the production in order to avoid any possible degradation or fault. These small producers generally avoid the use of chemical or biological substances and modern technology of any kind, not only because they could affect their productive concept, but also - and maybe, in particular - for the reduced economic possibilities. The ortodox vision of these producers goes beyond the use or the lack of economic resources. Many, for example, avoid the use of selected yeast, which cost is very low, a factor undeniably affecting the character and the expression of the place from which a wine takes its origin.

 Technology and research have certainly been fundamental for the development of wine making, allowing - last but not the least - small wineries to make wines with the least possible quantity of faults. A big opportunity which increased the overall quality of wines in this country. Maybe it was the excessive use of technology made in the last years - which undoubtedly favored the production of many wines, all the like, all the same - which today they are, like to say, looking back to the past. If once were technological wines to mainly catch the attention of consumers, while classifying in a derogatory way as wines of the peasant the ones produced by small wineries strongly tied to their tradition, today we are seeing a sort of return. Among wine lovers there is a sort of “competition” in finding wines produced by small wineries, in search of traditions associated to a territory.

 Also producers today are proud to say they keep themselves away from technology: if in the past saying a wine was fermented or aged in a barrique - the famous Bordelais barrel of 225 liters - gave the right to be part of the group of important producers, today they avoid to disclose this aspect. Today it is a distinctive sign to not using the barrique in favor of the traditional large casks; the ones using the barrique, most of the times, replace the term with “small barrel” or “small wood”, for example. The same happens for selected yeasts, for example. If in the past the use of selected yeast represented the norm - as well as being suggested by any technician - today producers proudly say they ferment their wines with natural yeasts, that is the yeasts naturally found in grape skins and in the atmosphere of a territory. Declaring the use of selected yeast has become - today - a reason for being considered as someone making a non genuine wine in the respect of a territory.

 The use of selected yeast, of course, allows a better stability and control of alcoholic fermentation, but it is also true it is a factor altering the “natural” conditions of a territory, as - during fermentation - they tend to overwhelm the natural population of wild yeasts. In other words, they undeniably affect the expression of a wine in regard to its “natural” interpretation. To say this in French terms, they alter the expression of the terroir of a place. Traditional and small is therefore better? Not always. Or, better to say, it depends on what one wants from a wine. Small producers have the merit of better keeping the typical quality and expression of a territory, while limiting the use of factors which could alter integrity, both for a matter of choice as well as for economic reasons. And to make this - it should be said - not always they are successful in making a quality product. This is also true for big producers as well. It is a matter of choice. A choice any producer can make, small or big, there is no difference. And it is also a matter of priority, that is choosing among economic profits, expression of the territory or to offer a wine meeting the taste of the mass, for example. Long life the good wine, well made and honest - either small or big - and capable of telling the emotions of its territory.

 







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  Editorial Issue 90, November 2010   
The Wine of the SmallThe Wine of the Small  Contents 
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