Slow Food

Focus on Wine at Salone and Terra Madre

Italy - 28 Oct 06

Wine was the theme of several important events at the Lingotto today, with the presentation of Slow Food and Gambero Rosso’s latest wine guide, a tasting of the best wines and a conference on wine sustainability at Terra Madre. This morning at 10.30, in the Giovanni Agnelli Auditorium in the Lingotto, Slow Food Editore and Gambero Rosso presented the 20th edition of the guide Vini d’Italia (Italian Wines). Stefano Bonilli, the guide’s coodinator for many years, chose to discuss the black cloud he sees hanging over the world of Italian enology. Unlike in France, in Italy there is no official, confirmed data about the acreage of vineyards in the country and their territorial distribution, he said, and this makes it hard for there to be serious and effective policies regarding issues like the development of wine tourism. Italy has a rich heritage, he concluded, with an incredible potential that was not being exploited. Slow Food President Carlo Petrini was more optimistic, saying that in the past 20 years the wine world has made great steps forward, both in terms of quality, distribution and marketing. The reconciliation of small-scale farming traditions with modern marketing strategies proved to be highly successful, he said, relaunching the wine industry after a period of great crisis. However producers must now maintain a balance, never forgetting their links to the land. “Whatever your title or your social background, you are all vignerons!” he exhorted. The theme of wine was also touched on today at Terra Madre, where a conference was held at 10am entitled ‘Wine: Total Sustainability from Vineyard to Cellar’, with contributions from academics, researchers and scientists as well as the producers themselves. The Chilean professor Carlos Alberto discussed the problems facing four sustainably run wineries in his country, and said that the solution was to create associations so companies could share employees, equipment and technical knowledge. The president of CERVIM, the center for research in mountain viticulture, said that in the 90,000 hectares of steep vineyards in Europe, there was little waste, as almost all the work was done manually. But that the real problem was a ‘brain drain’, with few young people choosing to go into the viticulture industry. The English winemaker Bob Lindo, from Cornwall, described how he has converted his winery to sustainability, from reusable packaging to solar energy. Even his bottles are lighter, so distribution uses less energy, and employees live close to the winery so their commutes create less pollution. Likewise in France Bernard Bellhasen of the Languedoc and Olivier Cousin in the Loire have given up on machines and are using only animal power. ‘The animals work but they also produce manure for fertilizing and eat the grass between the rows of vines. There’s minimal waste and many benefits’. At 4pm today there will be a grand tasting of all the wines which have won the Tre Bicchieri in the 2007 edition of the guide, held along the historic testing track which runs around the roof of the Lingotto, a former Fiat car factory.