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Jean Brislance

The future of Piedmont

6 posts in this topic

Hello Andrea, and thank you for taking our questions.

Discussions of traditional vs. modern wines in Piedmont tend to generate very passionate responses from both sides. I would like to know your thoughts regarding where you think the future is heading for Piedmont and its wines. Do you think there will be a balance where both the traditional and modern styles can exist? Or, will the modern style become more and more common and eventually phase out the more traditional wines?

Thanks very much!

Jean

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Hi Jean,

I took a little time to think about it before to anwser....

I think that "modern" or "traditional" definition born at the end of the 80's to define the profound differences between the "Barolo as it 's always been before" and the " new wine made in barrique by a dozen of revolutionary".

Coloured, rich wines on a side(... sometimes too much oaky, too....), lighter, less extract wines on the other side.And the revolution continued in the 90's, pushing every parameter to the limits for someone, while someone else considered it as an heresy for the Nebbiolo.It was really a war, and tons of pages were written on it.

But, now, things are profoundly changed, for my point of view of course.

The so-called "modernist",( I'm between them...) now, begin year after year to make longer maceration,to use no technologies( or only a minimum necessary) and to use more and more used woods to replace the new barrels.That's because we all know that in the past were produced some wines too oaky,too concentrated,too rich, good to astonish someone maybe but not good for the characteristics of the Nebbiolo, sometimes dramatically covered by vanilla flavours.

In my case, for example, I make macerations on the skins of 12-15 days:traditional But I use only barrique:modernist And I don't use selected yeasts or bacterians:traditional

You see, things are changed a lot.

If you taste the top producer of 99 Barolo or 01 Barbaresco, you will understand what I mean: no overoaked, jammy, soft wines on a side and clean, profound wines on the other.It means that, maybe, the definition of modern and traditional must be re-written, and I hope that in a future, differences will came out only from the soil and not from the mentality of the producer...

Last thing:two weeks ago ( at the Ugly duck, by the way.....)I had a dinner with

-Monprivato 96 Mascarello

-Ciabot Mentin Ginestra 96 Clerico

-Brunate 96 Marcarini

-Sori' Ginestra 96 Conterno Fantino

-Cascina Francia 89 Conterno

-Ciabot Mentin Ginestra 89 Clerico

and my Barbaresco Cotta' 96.

When a wine is really great, and the producer is respectful of it, no matter the size of the wood you use.

I hope to have anwered to you, and I would like also to know your opinion( but also of the other forumist, of course)about this controversial subject.

Best,

Andrea


Andrea Sottimano

Azienda Agricola Sottimano, Barbaresco (Neive)

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Dear Andrea,

I am not only new to eGullet, but I am about to be new to Italy. I am traveling to Italy in November to stay in Vicenza for a month. I know (almost) NOTHING about Italian wines. I am from California and live about 50 miles from the Napa Valley. As a consequence, I drink mainly California wines, with a nod to some French, some Australian, and some Italian varietals. My question, then, is: What would you suggest to introduce us to Italian wines? My husband is a lover of robust reds; I prefer medium to "sharp" whites. What should we put on our "must try" list?

Thanks very much.

sbcparis

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In my case, for example, I make macerations on the skins of 12-15 days:traditional But I use only barrique:modernist And I don't use selected yeasts or bacterians:traditional

You see, things are changed a lot....

It means that, maybe, the definition of modern and traditional must be re-written, and I hope that in a future, differences will came out only from the soil and not from the mentality of the producer...

Ciao Andrea,

Many thanks for this fascinating insight into how you work to create your hand-crafted wines. Your comments indicate the complexity of the modern v traditional argument, and highlight that it is not just about botti v barrique but also of course about the selection and vinification itself (capello sommerso, rimontaggio etc) as well as other priorities and preferences unique to each winemaker. Innovation in a deeply traditional and prestigious wine zone such as The Langhe must be the most difficult task of all to achieve but clearly in the last years and decades the result is that better and better wines are being produced (whether strictly 'modern' or 'traditional').

The fact that such changes have taken place at all indicates a remarkable willingness to be open-minded to change and evolution in the vineyard and the cantina, far more so than could ever be possible in, say, the Côte d'Or or the Medoc. But are there limits? The great grape varieties of the Langhe - Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto - have given brilliant results that have stood the test of time. What do you think about the introduction and experimentation with international varieties (inevitably Cabernet Sauvignon), as well as experimentation with non-traditional blends (Nebbiolo/Barbera or whatever) for the production of either super-Piemonte or super-IGT wines? Is there a future for such wines? Or should winegrowers/winemakers concentrate on producing wines that above all demonstrate the unique tipicità of this most privileged and prestigious corner of the wine world? And indeed does not tipicità and tradition go hand in hand?

Marc

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Ciao Marco,

Dolcetto and Barbera or Barbera and Nebbiolo were usually blended 30-40 years ago for the normal-family consumption: it's not unusual to see, in fact, old parcels in which plants of Barbera,Nebbiolo and Dolcetto are mixed....

People used to do it because of the high acidity of the Barbera or for the tannins too astringents( yields were quite higher than today...) of Nebbiolo.

Some producer does it now to make more approachable a young Nebbiolo, mixing it with Barbera or Cabernet.Results are often very good, in some cases outstanding.

Moreover, these wines are very rich, intense and a lot of them "wear" the unmistakable mark of our lands, so they are different from a normal Bordeaux-blend.

I think it was the only way, at the end of 80's, to attract the attention of consumer and medias to the Italian wines in that period in which the world wine was an egemony of the French's ( I'm thinking about wines like Darmagi, Arte,Monpra', Pin...);after that, all around the world people noticed that Piemontese wines could be very good and it was the begin for a "large -scale" invasion of Barolo and Barbaresco.

Anyway, you ask me if there is a future for these wines: well, I think that every top producer that has one of it will continue to produce it, maybe in lesser quantity year after year, and he will always focuse more and more his attention on the Barolo and Barbaresco, the only wines that I consider the symbols of the Langhe

in the world.

Best,

Andrea


Andrea Sottimano

Azienda Agricola Sottimano, Barbaresco (Neive)

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It means that, maybe, the definition of modern and traditional must be re-written, and I hope that in a future, differences will came out only from the soil and not from the mentality of the producer...

Andrea, thanks so much for taking my question.

As for my opinion, I am really just beginning to learn about traditional vs. modern styles of Piedmont wine. I think I can appreciate aspects of both. I love the idea of maintaining tradition, but I also love the idea of breaking new ground. Just last week, I had my first Barolo from what would be considered a "traditional" producer (it was a '97 Marcarini Barolo La Serra), and I thought it was wonderful, subtle, and elegant.

I liked what you said in the quote that I selected above. I personally think there is room for both styles (and even incorporating aspects of both styles), but like you said, I hope the differences come from the soil. That is what makes things distinctive, in my opinion.

Thanks very much, Andrea!

All the best,

Jean

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