Page 10 - Code de Vino, #12/18, s/s 2016
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10   Wine Club                                                                         Code de Vino #12               Code de Vino #12                                                 Donato Lanati. Special Oenology Forces  11
                                                             traditions of this area had not been propelled primarily by this
                                                             particular grape, it would not have survived until now. The grapes
                                                             that failed this test are now long gone. In this area, tradition brought
                                                             to light and carried through the ages these particular varieties,
                                                             which had been selected naturally over the course of eight
                                                             thousand years.

                                                             In France, it was Julius Caesar who imported vines there two
                                                             thousand years ago. He conquered Gaul and forced the Roman
                                                             centurions to grow grapes there. If he had forced them to grow
                                                             grain, they would have just grown one harvest, collected it and left
                                                             for good. However, taking care of a vineyard required time and
                                                             effort, which was why they stayed.

                                                             Then, about two hundred years ago, rich bankers of Bordeaux paid
                                                             to conduct scientific research on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and
                                                             other local grapes. That's why I consider them a bit artificial, do you
                                                             understand what I'm trying to say here? Like they're grown in a lab.
                                                             They're excellent grapes, of course, but... In France, there are five
                                                             universities studying oenology. But when I'm talking about
                                                             traditions, I mean something different.
                                                             The Italian tradition is very different from that of the French. The
                                                             same as in Georgia, the grapes were cultivated by peasants over a                                                                              Donato Lanati's laboratory
                                                             long period of time as they selected those varieties that were most
           Oleg Cherne with Donato Lanati and Georgi Salakaya  fit for this land.
                                                             Plus, I believe that the entirety of the bouquet and the best qualities   Castello Banfi is owned by an American, who was all for using   Plus, there's one other thing. If I buy a bottle of wine for $50 and
                                                             of a wine reveal themselves only in the domestic terroir. Even   Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the market and customers opted   want to enjoy it to its fullest, I need to learn the history of this wine. It
        — Signor Donato, during our tour at your lab, I kept recalling   though famous French grapes take root well everywhere in the   rather to come to Tuscany to buy Brunello! That's why today we do   stimulates my imgaination, and as I taste it I travel through space to
        my interview with Michel Rolland.                    world, the true wealth of Italian winemaking is in its uniqueness! We   our best to study Sangiovese, as a good Sangiovese is what our   where it was made. It brings about new associations and wakes up
                                                             have Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, etc. Today, wine is more than just a   customers want.                                    my curiosity.
        — A fantastic oenologist! Number one in the whole world!  combination of color, flavor and taste. It's also everything that
                                                             surrounds it.                                                    In Georgia, we would like to conduct a more thorough research of   As a little side note, I'd like to tell you a story. When I was a student
                                                                                                                              the varieties selected throughout the course of history, as we   in the University of Turin, I had a girlfriend who lived in Rome.
        — This was our first-ever interview for Code de Vino, and I   The French register of grape varieties consists of several dozen   realized that certain types of grapes work quite well for sparkling   Sometimes she would call me and say: "I'm in the phone booth in
        was thinking: "What should I ask him about? I can't blow this   sorts, while in Italy we have five hundred. The same is true for   wines, which was one of the keys to the success of Badagoni   front of the Coliseum", and at that moment I was no longer in Turin,
        opportunity..." So I said to him: "Michel, I think that the most   Georgia. The French approach is very scientific, and they are gifted   Sexton Brut.                    but in that phone booth in front of the Coliseum with her! This is
        important part of a grape variety are its genes, the history of   at selection. Perhaps, Shiraz and Petit Verdot can eventually                                           what a good wine should be able to do—transport us to faraway
        the soil... Even despite the age of a vine." We spoke mostly   become good wines for Georgia. Nevertheless, they will never be                                            lands.
        about Cabernet Sauvignon. And he couldn't answer that   able to represent this area adequately on their own. You can
        question. He said: "That's a very interesting thought, but I'm   attempt to create an interesting new wine, but history has already
        not a researcher."                                   determined the right place to make the best Saperavi.                                                                — I agree that there is more and more blank, featureless wine
                                                                                                                                                                                  being produced in the world today. However, I had a very
        And here, in your stunning center, for the first time in my life I   Of course, today's scientific knowledge can help define the best                                     interesting experience in Argentina, where I met Arnaldo
        can see a place where people do exactly that—you study the   location for cultivating Shiraz as well. I'm all for these kinds of                                          Etchart, the owner of Bodegas Etchart in Salta. Michel Rolland
        genetic history of grapes. It's like a glass of wine for my soul,   experiments. I work for Castello Banfi, where they make a                                             was their oenologist. In my opinion, they had the best Malbec
        because finally, after all these years, I've found confirmation   wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But! Their most popular                                        in all of Argentina.
        to my hypothesis. So, I have a question. One time I   wine is Brunello, made from Sangiovese.
        interviewed Antinori, who works with Cabernet Sauvignon.                                                                                                                  I visited him at his house, where he was sitting with his friend
        This isn't a typical variety for Tuscany, and Antinori was the                                                                                                            and paying zero attention to me. I was there waiting... And
        one who introduced it to the high-end wine-making of Italy.                                                                                                               they just went on drinking wine. Suddenly, he turns over to me
        And I'd like to ask you: can the wine, that didn't belong to an                                                                                                           and asks: "Why are you here?" I answer: "I want to talk about
        area naturally, from the start, represent this area. And if so,                                                                                                           wine." So he says: "Have you read Borges?" — "Of course I
        should they represent it?                                                                                                                                                 have, I would never come without doing my homework!" Then
                                                                                                                                                                                  he says: "Well then, sit down!" We had a long conversation
        — That's a very good question. I think that a wine that truly                                                                                                             about Borges, and only after that he said: "Now you can try
        represents its area is limited to autochtonous wines. Like Saperavi,                                                                                                      my wine." But Argentina isn't a native home to Malbec!
        an amazing variety, or Mtsvane. I chose them for Badagoni
        because they have been cultivated on Georgian soil for thousands                                                                                                          — Etchart is a rare type of winemaker, a unique case and perhaps
        of years. They represent the history of this land.                                                                                                                        even one of a kind. I think that on the whole Merlot is growing
                                                                                                                                                                                  better in Argentina. I know Argentinian wines quite well, we've
        When Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay is imported into a new                                                                                                              analyzed a fair share of them. By the way, many wines with Malbec
        area, I take issue with this, as they can't represent this land to the                                                                                                    also contain a good portion of Merlot.
        same extent as the original grapes do. The value of a wine region
        lies in its history and tradition, which need to be preserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                  — Why can't we say that today Malbec is already autochtonous
        If Saperavi had not passed the test of time, all the climatic                                                                                                             to Argentina and Shiraz is autochtonous to Australia? They found
        changes, natural disasters and so on, and if the winemaking                                                                                                               a new interpretation there. Can we accept that for what it is?
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