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29th September 2010 - Innovation award for tannin-measurement system

A new system which measures the tannin in an oak stave has won a gold medal at the Vinitech wine trade fair.


Oakscan is an infrared scanning system which measures the exact number of tannins in each stave of a barrel before it is assembled, meaning a winemaker can precisely select the type of tannins to match the style of wine required.

The system was developed as a result of research carried out by Nicolas Mourey at barrel makers Radoux, together with the Faculty of Oenology at Bordeaux University.

Oakscan will be used to make the first barrels to be able to categorise the type and quality of tannins in wood.

Radoux is in the process of implementing the system for all its French oak barrels.

Frederic Bonnaffous, technical director at Chateau le Boscq and Chateau Belgrave in the Medoc, who has been involved in testing the barrels, told the more they could reduce the number of variables in the barrel selection process, the better.

'The idea of reducing variations between barrels is very seductive. Not only does each oak tree have different tannin levels, but so do the different sides of a tree, and its inner and outer sections.

‘We can do nothing about variations in yearly weather patterns in Bordeaux, but if we can have some stability in the barrels, that would add another level of precision to our winemaking.'

Pierre Guillaum of Radoux said, 'There is a poetic side to winemaking, but you also need fixed parameters within which to work.'

14th September 2010 - One third of Italian vines should be grubbed up: Antinori

One third of Italy’s vines should be replanted or pulled out because they are making unmarketable wines, Marchese Piero Antinori says.


Despite Italy’s success in global markets, the leading producer and former Decanter Man of the Year reckons 30% of vines are making wines unacceptable to today’s markets.

According to Antinori, the problem is particularly acute in central Italy, where there are thousands of hectares planted to Trebbiano, ‘a not very interesting grape’, and in southern Italy – particularly Sicily and Puglia – where many vineyards are producing huge yields of 250hl/ha (hectolitres per hectare).

‘For centuries, viticulture in Italy was geared to quantity rather than quality, and a large part of its plantings still reflect that old approach,’ said Antinori, who was speaking at a seminar in London organised by the Institute of Masters of Wine, in his capacity as president of the Institute of Italian Fine Wines (Premium Brands), a grouping of 17 of Italy’s fine wine producers.

‘In the past the wines were either blended and exported, largely to France, as very cheap “vin ordinaire” style wine, or used as a base for vermouth. Now vermouth doesn’t sell and these producers are having to find new markets.’

Antinori said that thousands of hectares are owned by small producers who have neither the resources nor the desire to change.

‘Transforming these thousands of inefficient acres that aren’t geared to the market is a big challenge, and more difficult than you might think. The only solution is to incentivise them to grub up the vines or replant.’

Such incentives were introduced in Italy by the EU two years ago, and should bring about big changes within the next four to five years.

12th September 2010 Gaja rails against 'Italian' wine

by Jancis Robinson

Mad Man of Barbaresco Angelo Gaja has just sent me the following cri de coeur entitled 'The Crisis and World Markets Hobble Italian Agriculture'. It is all a long way from the relaxed, rather back-slapping tone of yesterday's presentation of the Istituto di Grandi Marchi at the Masters of Wine AGM, but probably more accurately reflects the current state of the Italian wine market (see Italian wine prices plummet, Minister unconcerned). I assume, perhaps wrongly, that the non-100% 'Italian' products to which he refers so disdainfully are what make up most of the ocean of 'Pinot Grigio' exported from Italy - presumably based on white wine imported into Italy and made thoroughly eGrigious.

11th September 2010 Italian prices plummet, Minister unconcerned


In a recent interview with Winenews, the newly appointed Italian minister of Agriculture Giancarlo Galan (pictured) went on a collision course with wine producers when he commented about the current situation of falling grape prices in Italy that, while he doesn't deny there are problems, 'we should not exaggerate'. According to Galan, if there is a sector of Italian agriculture that has seen continuous growth over the last couple of years in international markets, it is the wine sector. He then added the warning note that he had no plans to offer financial support to those who can no longer make a living out of grape and/or wine production. He literally said that producers should stop complaining before this year's harvest has been brought in.

9th September 2010 Bisol ready to pick first grapes from Venetian island

Prosecco producer Bisol will pick the first commercial vintage at its property in the Venetian lagoon this week.


Bisol planted the 1-ha walled vineyard at Tenuta di Venissa on the island of Mazzorbo with an authentic – and rare – Venetian white variety called Dorona.

Wine growing flourished on the islands around Venice as early as the15th century, but has been abandoned in modern times, and Bisol scoured the lagoon for the last remaining examples of Dorona, a distant relative of the Garganega of Soave.

The resulting wine, called Venissa, is on sale now as a future, with the first consignment due in February 2012.

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