Page 14 - Code de Vino, #12/18, s/s 2016
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14   Wine Club                                                                         Code de Vino #12               Code de Vino #12                                                 Donato Lanati. Special Oenology Forces  15
        While the flavor of white wine may change in the course of seven   This is what oenology is currently lacking — in Krasnodar, Kakheti   — Now let's talk about a very complicated topic: you make   — Let's be honest here: in today's world, business rules
        or eight months, sparkling wine is more stable thanks to this   and Italy — greater study and scientific research. There is an   great wine at Badagoni, invest your time, effort, research and   everything, not just the desire to educate people. Our
        fixation. During secondary fermentation, the proteins from the   experimental vineyard in Georgia, not far from Tbilisi, with five   love in it, and then some complete wine ignoramus goes   magazine is independent, but it's still part of the media. I
        yeast stabilize these flavors. Once secondary fermentation is   hundred grape varieties, many of them still entirely unknown! They   ahead and buys it. And he dares to judge it...  spoke to the heads of Vinum magazine, and they're
        over, the yeast leaves behind its saltiness when the nucleus of the   have no idea what to do with all them! Every year we study about                                    opposed to all these types of publications. They say: "Our
        yeast molecule is transferred to the wine. The nucleic acids are   twenty of them.                                    — You mean if the customer says something like: "Well, it's okay, I   task is to find and show everything from a different
        what gives wine this particular taste.                                                                                guess?"                                             perspective." They're the only magazine that I believe
                                                                                                                                                                                  works according to their own idea. They aren't against
                                                                                                                                                                                  Parker, they're against applying the same criteria for every
        — So Mtsvane is able to absorb all of this?                                                                           — Or fails to understand it at all.                 product out there.
        — Yes, Mtsvane contains these amino acids. The yeast absorbs                                                          — Since winemaking involves lots of persistent efforts, it appears   — The difficulty with Wine Spectator and Parker is that if you
        them and modifies into similar amino acids to transfer them back                                                      under a brand name, its own trademark. So, when someone who   have no idea about a wine in the first place, with this list of
        to the wine. You can say that the yeast is a cell that devours                                                        doesn't know anything about wine asks for advice, an expert might   numbers you won't even bother to ever read the comments on
        everything it sees on its way, but rather changing instead of                                                         say: "You see, this and this producer makes a good wine." And the   it.
        destroying it.                                                                                                        name will give them a direction.
                                                                                                                                                                                  In fact, point based classification serves only to sell wine, and I
        Imagine a chain with an atom of hydrogen. The yeast captures                                                                                                              can't get behind that. I want the comments about my wine to
        and devours this amino acid molecule; not destroying it, but                                                          — Why don't they put a quality sign from a renowned   reflect its history and the tradition behind it. Plus, I think people
        rather giving it back in a modified version. At the beginning of the                                                  oenologist instead of their Parker's score? In Argentina,   deserve the chance to taste a wine before buying it.
        process, we had four hundred amino acids, and at the end we're                                                        Michel Rolland even signs some of the wines.
        going to have the same amount, but they'll be slightly different                                                                                                          I understand that this approach is not for everyone. But your
        this time.                                                                                                            — But he's known all over the world. A brand name is important if   magazine is written for people who already love wine and know
                                                                                                                              your wine is already good and its quality has passed the test of   a thing or two about it. What we're talking about with them are
                                                                                                                              time. Here is another essential moment: in order to help the   business magazines. That's why all producers strive to hit at
        — Do you plan your formula from the start, or just try your                                                           customer choose and discover your wine, you need    least 90 points from Parker. Otherwise, they say, they just won't
        luck?                                                                                                                 communication. Without reporters, the market wouldn't even exist!   be able to sell their wine in America. And if they can't sell it in
                                                                                                                              There wouldn't even be a market for good wines. This is the work   America, they won't sell it in China.
        — Here, I'll show you a graph of amino acid analysis. We conduct                                                      you're doing right now, what you're doing for the readers who pick
        a thorough examination of the berry. This allows us to better                                                         up your magazine to learn something new and make the right   The same goes for Russian distributors; the first thing they ask
        understand its components and see what we can get out of the                                                          choice of wine, to test and compare different options. There is   is: "What's your Spectator score?" To me as an aficionado in the
        grape in this area. All of my friends who cultivate grapes in Italy                                                   nothing more ideal than comparison. Comparison allows one   world of wine, this type of "cold" evaluation is unacceptable. It
        analyze the vine leaves before making wine. But since wine isn't                                                      consumer to choose the best option for themselves, while another   just doesn't work for me.
        made of leaves, we examine the grape berry itself.                                                                    can focus on what suits them best. In any event, you've already
                                                                                                                              done your part of the job by writing this article or creating certain   Spectator mostly includes wines sold in America. Those that are
        The transformation that happens to amino acids is a natural                                                           material on wine.                                   not imported in America just fall out of the picture completely.
        process, as the yeast requires amino acids to reproduce. The                                                                                                              Can you see what's going on here? Right off the bat, they're
        number of amino acids changes, in some places growing larger,                                                                                                             treated as "mediocre"...
        and in others diminishing.
                                                           — Was Badagoni the first to start using these specific scientific                                                      Of course, this approach is far from ideal. You don't have to
                                                           methods?                                                                                                               advertise your wine in a local magazine just to be able to sell it
        — You're right, but you wouldn't be able to achieve a                                                                                                                     in that part of the world. I don't want to make any rough
        sparkling wine of the same quality using a younger Mtsvane.   — In Georgia, yes.                                                                                          parallels, but let's say that as an oenologist I want to sell my
        Here I'm talking about the age of the vineyard.                                                                                                                           100 point wine, so I head into a wine boutique. Yet my
                                                                                                                                                                                  competitors also want to offer their wine with the same score,
        — Right, the perfect age for a vine is 10 years.   — And in Russia?                                                                                                       and if they have, perhaps, a wine with 200 points, they'll just
                                                                                                                                                                                  shut me down completely. I have my lab, my team, my whole
                                                           — I've never worked in Russia. I used to have some contacts in your                                                    world—can this all really be just in pursuit of the highest score?
        — Fine, but in this case, can you actually reproduce the   country, but I've never worked there. It's hard because you need a                                             Someone else has a wife, a secretary, two cars... And his wine
        exact same quality and taste of your champagne?    team to start researching, it involves joint efforts.                                                                  receives 100 points as well. What did he do for it? Just smelled
                                                                                                                                                                                  some wines and that's it. So the score is the same, but the work
        — That's what we're aiming for. Sure, when you draw up a quality   In Badagoni, we decided to combine practice with theoretical study.                                    and effort behind them are totally different!
        graph, it shouldn't ever have any sharp peaks or falls. The value   Still, there are a lot of superficial approaches and work in the world of
        is ideally constant. That's what quality control means, and the   oenology. What I mean is that people think all they need to do is
        applied science we rely on ensures this.           make pomace to produce a good wine. But much the opposite, I                                                           — I think this makes for a perfect conclusion. We're not
                                                           created a research center that provides the latest theoretical basis                                                   against them, but we'd like everyone to listen to Chopin.
        In a certain sense, tradition means when you're able to maintain   for all winemaking needs.
        the same level of quality, and reproduce the best characteristics                                                                                                         — Bravo! To me, it's like the sword of Damocles. Magazines are
        of your wine. Tradition isn't just about passing on experience, it's   The French envy the strength of my team. We have a very intense                                    here for people's enjoyment, but you still open them with fear:
        about explaining.                                  work flow. You won't see one lab working on, say, polyphenols and                                                      what's my score, how high am I on the table? In the end, many
                                                           another — on flavor; no, we all work together.                                                                         people don't even read the comments—they go straight to the
                                                                                                                                                                                  score, which is closer to checking sports statistics or gambling.
        — So, the quality criterion lies in technology.    And the last step, which I'm quite fond of, is the tasting. Sometimes I
                                                           can taste wine for twelve hours in a row. Approximately seven
        — That's correct. And it involves both knowledge and the ability   hundred glasses. I do this because I want to grasp certain nuances                                     — I think the title "The Laboratory" suits this interview
        to analyze and understand the process. One friend of mine, a   and understand where they come from. Thanks to this comparative                                            better. I'm happy to have visited you not only because
        very famous chef, often says: "People used to do it this way, and   analysis, I start to realize how to reproduce the same effect in a                                    you're now an Oscar winner, but because of the chance to
        now they do it that way." But here this isn't so hard to understand,   different batch. Then we pass the results of our studies on to the                                 taste your wonderful sparkling wine.
        because the new way makes perfect sense.           guys working in the wine cellar.
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