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23.08.2021

Climate: the alcoholic grades of wines change but this is not always a defect

It is not taken for granted that the climate is the big one accused of the increase in alcohol content as it is not at all obvious that it is a damage even if the consumer trend is for lighter wines, drinkable, with good acidity and freshness and the answer red wines are not lacking But certainly something has changed and the back of the bottles shows it to realize that the alcohol content has changed.

The producers of Bordeaux have realized this and have registered a degree more in recent years and it has not been the same in Burgundy with the Pinot Noir which, well managed in the vineyard, did not have alcoholic problems. But without bothering the stranger so much, let’s come to us.

Hans Terzer the winemaker from San Michele Appiano certainly has no problems : his wines are doing great, as he himself says “All reservations have been fulfilled, many more are coming, we have nothing left in the cellar, all already sold” But I observe with regard to the feared increase in alcohol ?. It all depends on the vintages, but we can defend ourselves by decreasing yields a lot to guarantee quality.For 2020 our whites have maintained the usual alcohol content without having had an increase. Personally, I see a wine at 13/13 ° and a half well because alcohol helps conservation. There would be serious problems if it reached 15 °, then management would become difficult. The increase in alcohol content concerns red wines, especially in the South. ”

Simone Proietti, winemaker of Tenute Tomasella, speaks
The data is there and the accused is the climatic increase fought in the vineyard and in the cellar but for the reds the battle is not easy so much that the increase in alcohol content is inevitable . Simone Proietti is the winemaker of Tenute Tomasella, 50 hectares between Treviso (38 hectares) and Friuli (12 hectares) which says “Our game is played on the defense of perfect phenolic maturation, which is fundamental for the maturation of phenols and tannins. It is evident that if the phenolic maturation is postponed we find ourselves with an increase in the sugar content and consequently in the alcohol content. In the last ten years the alcohol content has increased by 1 degree, today we are about 13 and a half degrees but we expect with the 2021 harvest to have a slight increase up to 14 °, in particular for the Bastie Rosse type which will reach 14.5 ° in particular for the Reserves. Take into account that we adopt very low yields, 70 quintals per hectare, while in Friuli the average is 140 quintals per hectare, in addition to an important sustainability program underway with the conversion of 15 hectares to Bio “.Will all this be reflected in the market? ” It is likely – he says – consumers want lighter and more drinkable wines but I am convinced that quality wines will always have their own market as ours are recognized for their pleasantness, body with an unmistakable distinction. I hope that many other companies will follow our path which foresees the entire organic vineyard within 5 years ”

And let’s go to Tuscany with Giovanni Folonari of Tenute Folonari.
He thinks differently and for once does not impute the climate “The increased alcohol content in Tuscany – he says – is due to the fact that we produce wines that are very different from those of 70/80 years ago. Today they are very full-bodied, concentrated, structured and to obtain this complexity it is necessary to wait for the correct phenolic maturation that we try to obtain by removing the grapes, anticipating the harvest to maintain high acidity with the inevitable increase in sugar and the higher alcohol content It is however important to prolong the maceration phase not much on healthy and perfect skins which implies a higher percentage of sugar with a relative increase in alcohol content. The climate has something to do with it but it is not decisive. In very hot years like 2017 we reached 15° alcohol. Working well in the vineyard, we now stay at 14°. Be careful to raise the alcohol content too much: the wine loses freshness, elegance, drinkability and becomes a bomb. Our flagship wines are Pareto di Nozzole, Cabreo, La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino Brunello and Bolgheri Baia al vento. ”

“The alcohol content of Sardinian wines is part of the character and identity of the vines of this land” Thus Massimo Ruggero – CEO of Siddùra- commented on the phenomenon of climate change and how much these can affect the alcohol content. “The alcohol content – specifies Ruggero from the Luogosanto estate – can vary according to the sun because the pressing yield changes. It is important to monitor the harvesting period with continuous sampling on the plants. They are fundamental tests that help to determine the exact moment of the harvest in order to remain within the parameters of the Babo grade. The sun – closes the CEO – affects not only the sugar content, but enhances the aromas and structure of the wine even more to the point of determining its longevity “.

Emanuela Medi journalist

FONTE vinosano.com