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  Editorial Issue 129, May 2014   
A Wealth Called ItalyA Wealth Called Italy  Contents 
Issue 128, April 2014 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 130, June 2014

A Wealth Called Italy


 Italy is a great Country, in particular if we consider it for its food resources, its art, culture, history, monuments and traditions. The ones who preceded us, also thanks to the privilege mother Nature gave to our land and to the genius of our people, have left magnificent evidences, very high and noble examples of civilization and culture. High and noble examples which had the power of influencing and changing the course of things and history even in Europe and in the world. We could think about the many artistic expressions the children of our Country have expressed in past centuries, as well as cultural and social examples which had strongly marked the history of humanity in the past centuries. Indisputable marks having, still today, the same power, the same beauty, the same unchanged and deep culture. An immense wealth that, for better or worse, has been passed to us with the moral responsibility of keeping it and passing to the wealth of posterity.


 

 The Italians of our times - it seems so evident to me - are not that aware of this responsibility and the wealth they should keep, something our ancestors wanted to give us as a priceless gift. It is very difficult to find another place in the world having so many historical and artistic examples, they are so many we sometimes end up considering them obvious and normal, a habit like many others, while forgetting it is a unique and unrepeatable wealth. We are aware of them when we go abroad in order to support our vanity and praise our identity of Italians. When we then get back home, we ignore them, indeed, we do not care than much about our wealth and some of them - and this is a truly sad tragedy - because of our carelessness run the risk of being lost forever. Only in that very moment we show a certain disappointment, we show a rage and a pride of convenience only when it is too late to do something. In case there is a remedy, the price to be paid is usually very high, and in that case it is always someone or something else's fault. As you make your bed, so you must lie in it, a famous wise saying tells us.

 Many of you are probably wondering what all this has to do with wine. Besides the fact also wine - our wine - undeniably is a cultural wealth of this Country, for many aspects its history is not so different from the rest of our unique resources. Our wealth, according to an ampelographic and wine making point of view, to say the least, is impressive and rich, like no other place in the world. I am not saying, of course, Italian wine is the best in the world because, I strongly believe this, every wine country has something unique and unrepeatable to give. This is true for wine, cooking and every other aspect of culture and tradition of every place in the world, with no exception. After all, it is said difference is a remarkable value and this is undoubtedly true for wine as well.

 According to Italian Registro Nazionale delle Varietà di Vite (National Registger of Grape Varieties), which can also be browsed in the WEB site of Italian Ministry of Agriculture, the number of grape varieties found in our Country is currently 475. Four-hundred and seventy-five! This number, must be said, includes all the varieties cultivated in our Country, therefore it is the sum of autochthonous and allochthonous grapes, that is the so called “international” varieties. It is a huge wealth, an extraordinary richness generously distributed all over the territory, in every region, in every place. What makes this condition even more incredible is that every region, every place, has autochthonous varieties and, most of the times, they are found in those lands only. It should be said, for the sake of truth, in every region are however found many of the international varieties and most of the times they are vinified with the autochthonous ones.

 The ampelographic wealth of Italy makes me think to what is happening to the huge historical, artistic and cultural wealth of our Country. These grapes - in particular the autochthonous varieties - are found in our Country since a very long time and they have been ignored for long, even denied, and in many occasions they seriously ran the risk of disappearing forever. For a long time this wealth has been ignored in favor of international varieties, believed to be better - and many of them certainly are magnificent grapes - as if the secret of a quality wine was the grape. It took enlightened and obstinate figures who, in an absolute revolutionary way, have believed in what their lands have always given. Some Italian varieties are today considered remarkable wine making glory even worldwide, others are still waiting to be reevaluated and understood, small pearls waiting to be “shined” in order to show all of their splendor.

 After all, this is something already happened in the past and writing a list of the Italian autochthonous varieties which reached the top of the Olympus of Bacchus would be pretty long. The famous Latin saying nemo profeta in patria (No one is a prophet in his own country) - seems to be appropriate in this case - suggests there are still many autochthonous varieties waiting to be understood and reevaluated for their wine making quality. Four-hundred and seventy-five varieties are many and most of them may have extraordinary stories to tell, by letting them express that dignity many other of them have already expressed thanks to talented vintners. Times have changed, there is no doubt about this, and if we once believed international grapes were the solution, today this role is mainly played by autochthonous grapes. With a unique and strong certainty: the ampelographic wealth of Italy is an extraordinary richness deserving to be reevaluated and understood. Understood, first of all.

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 129, May 2014   
A Wealth Called ItalyA Wealth Called Italy  Contents 
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