Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) 2017

What the #VIA Program is bringing to the World of Wine and what it should mean to the Native Italian Wine Market in Copenhagen

Few years ago Stevie Kim & Ian D’Agata decided to join forces and launch a new educational initiative: The Vinitaly International Academy Program. First edition took place in 2015.

The main purpose with the course is to pamper, nurse, protect, clean up, push, hail, praise and let people (re) discover the Italian legacy of native grapes together with the compelling range of different wines these grapes foster in the hands of now numerous talented wine producers throughout Italy.

Traditional and international grapes such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon have for decades been the most obvious, secure choices to grow in many commercially important parts of Italy with families to bread -Chardonnay, Cab S & F + Merlot all being well recognised among consumers, thus easier to sell.

But while consumers are getting ever more wise on wine, hence more critical to what they drink, an eagerness to extent the vinous horizon (finally) seems to have taken place. And this is where the decade long exhaustive work of people like Ian D’Agata (VIA Scientific Director) and the late Luigi Veronelli (founder of the Italian Veronelli Guide) comes into right, having dedicated significant parts of their lives to preserve and protect the authenticity of Italian agriculture.

Ian D’Agata, a man in his best age, is –besides from all the almost geek-terrifying wine stuff he stores mentally- also a trained medical doctor specialized in pediatric gastroenterology (management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver) and pediatric liver transplants (!) (the exclamation point would be me unable to get over my impression) and has, among others, studied in important universities like Harvard, has won grants in cellular and molecular biology research and has taken the expertise gained from these medicine and research studies and ‘donated’ all of it to his continuing and tireless studies of The Native Grapes of Italy in all their biological essence. A path he’s now been on for +30 years.

 

The challenge of mistakenly identified grape varietals and the much needed clean up

Due to lack of other measures (like DNA-testing and biochemical methods) grapes used to be examined ampelographically (morphological visualisation of a bunch of grapes and determination of it’s organs performed only by the instrument of the human eye and the expertise belonging to who possessed that eye) until the beginning of this century. You might imagine how difficult and challenging this task has been. How do you recognize one bunch from another? They all look fairly the same, don’t they? Right, there are specific differences in between them, but I’m sure anyone who has visited a vineyard now and then -as well as plenty of times- will get my point; it can not have been easy to identify whether one certain bunch of grapes might have been Pelaverga, Vespolina or Nebbiolo. Or Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Or Merlot (even though Merlot should be easier to recognise in the spring, it has a sort of white shoot tip that makes it different from Cabernet S & F with which it is often confused (D’Agata; 2014)).

Nevertheless the study of ampelography (in short; ‘manual’ identification of grape varietals) was and is a very precise one, being of course taking very seriously, where every detail from the bunches’ shoot tips in spring to the colours of veins are minutely examined. Nonetheless, many mistakes have been made. And a lot of work has had to be done to ‘clean up’ all the wrongly identified grapes throughout times. Unfortunately the cleaning up is definitely not over yet.

One of the biggest problems with the situation of wrongly identified grapes today occurs when a grape thought to be X (for instance, fostering one style of wine) is examined in comparison to grape Y (for instance, fostering a completely different style of wine) to figure out whether grape X and Y might or might not be the same. Scientists are capable of declaring X and Y to be in fact the same. Even though they might foster completely different wines. Appearance, aroma and flavour wise. Why could that be? Might you say, could be obvious if the grapes were cultivated in two completely different environments? You’re right. It could be. But they could also be cultivated in the same environment and still foster different wines. And scientists who have ‘proven’ them identical to each other will (most likely) remain with their conclusions. But the reason why X and Y produce completely different wines, side by side or in different environments, might well also due to an ampelographers work from back then. Who could (quite easily) have mistaken the ground material, in this example, for instance of grape X. If X wasn’t X in the first place, but an ampelographer from back then concluded it was, then scientists of today will stick to the conclusion of X being ‘X’, even though it isn’t. What are their options? Go and do all the examination of all the grapes once again. That’s one h… of task.

Let’s think of Peino Noia (Pinot Noir), like Ian says, and take one of Ian’s examples too; Peino Noia, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco all look very different to everyone (one is blue, one is pink and one is white) and foster different wines. But their genetic material is the same. Or so it seems. But anyone in his right mind will argue that they can’t possibly be. They’re different! But they aren’t, say scientists…

Ok, whatever.

(Of course there’s an explanation, but it’s long and concerns (in short) how DNA testing is and can be provided. If you wish to dig deeper I suggest you buy Ian D’Agatha’s book “Native Grapes of Italy” from 2014).

All this actually also opens up another question. If so many grapes have been ampelographically mistaken in the past, how can we be sure that we’re really drinking what we think we are, when we’re having let’s say, a Barolo? Or a Barbaresco?… Well, that’s too big a question for now so I’ll let it rest.

This is all very confusing, amusing and at the same time absolutely lovely. It’s why we should be happy in Copenhagen. Because challenges like these are why Ian D’Agata has dedicated his life to Italian Native Grapes and their biological essence, stressed innumerable wine makers not to give up their sacred native vines and by all means make them native wines with all their fine material, grapes like Fenile, Picolit, Vermentino, Schioppettino and, of course, Tazzelenghe… Plus many others.

In Copenhagen we should be happy and thank ampelographers from the last century, indeed did they pave the way for today’s hungry Millennium world wine lovers, ready to look up from our main stream vanilla and chocolate flavoured glasses of wine and take our wine knowledge, passion and experience to the next level.

We should be happy in Copenhagen, because due to ampelographical challenges Ian and Stevie Kim made the VIA program possible, managing to involve wine professionals from all over the world to become completely hooked and so willingly entangled in this complicated affair of passing on the ‘new’ knowledge and understanding of these ‘new’ wines with deeper philosophies. Of nativeness.

 

Authenticity and deeper Philosophies of Wine

We know for a fact that consumers are looking for deeper purposes and interesting philosophies to attach to the wines they enjoy. Organic growth, biodynamic farming and natural wine making is for one a direction wine lovers around the world are keen on taking. Sustainability seems to be the most important value in this category, thus the reason to the rise of sales (Denmark has seen a strong growth of sales of organic wines and Fair-trade over the past years (source: Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nov 2016). In the extremely technologized, digital and increasingly robotized world we are all now living in, it makes perfect sense that core, fundamental values like how to take care of our planet, stands stronger than ever. ‘Nativeness’ is in this same league, together with the concept and usage of 0-km agriculture, both philosophies about keeping agriculture authentic. And sustainable. Authenticity is what we want, together with Sustainability + 0-km. It all goes hand in hand with Nativeness. These are the key words summing up the categories of wine and agriculture you and I and our times consumers are looking for.

It is know up to restaurateurs, hotels, wine shops, wine journalists and other good people from around the Globe to push the Italian Authentic Native Wine legacy to reach the recognition it deserves. Just like we’ve done with 0-km agriculture, sustainable natural, biodynamic and organic growth.

And it is my humble and honoured job as Scandinavia’s 1st Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Ambassador in the World, to pass on the knowledge I have in the field of Italian Native Grapes and the wines they foster by staying hungry and keep learning with the purity and excitement of a 5-year old, writing and teaching about what I now know and what I learn, continuing to import wines to Denmark, exposing them to the private market, to Horeca and certainly offering them to our guests at our restaurant (lenoteca.dk) on a frequent basis. And it’s my privileged job to invite all interested to follow me and the VIA Community on this journey, and become part in the manner that suits one the best.

 

The Journey has started

The journey has started and I don’t know where it’ll take us besides from right here, now and the third weekend of May 2017 (Friday 19 and Saturday 20) where I will be hosting a Franciacorta and Northern Italian White wines Dinner, to taste, discuss, enlighten our selves, and most likely meet some new lovely people too.

Tickets can be purchased by following this link: http://madbillet.dk/show/event/franciacorta-and-norditaliensk-hvidt-moeder-syden/0/0/0/english

 

 

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Vin og promille – hvordan ser regnestykket ud? I fredags gik Aida Hadzialic af grundet 0,2 promille

Aida Hadzialic gik af i fredags grundet 0,2 promille kørsel i forbindelse med indtagelse af to glas vin fire timer inden hun blev stoppet – er det egentlig fair, det vil sige, var så hård en sanktion nødvendig? Og kan historien virkelig passe, var der vitterlig blot tale om to glas vin? Og hvordan regner du egentlig selv, på hurtig og effektiv vis, din egen alkoholpromille ud efter et par glas eller fire?

Den svenske gymnasieminister Aida Hadzialic blev i fredags stoppet på vej fra København til Malmø med en promille på 0,2 og har, i samråd med sin chef, den svenske statsminister Stefan Löfven, valgt at trække sig fra sin stilling. Hun skulle ifølge eget udsagn have drukket et glas rødvin og et glas champagne, fire timer inden hun satte sig bag rettet. Men er det overhovedet sandsynligt at Aida kun drak to glas vin? Hazialic er en spinkel pige, og jo mindre fedt man har på kroppen, jo højere bliver alkoholpromillen. Vi forbrænder alle ca 0,15 promille i timen. Så hvis den afgående minister vejer omkring 50 kg kan det faktisk godt passe, at der vitterlig blot var tale om indtagelse af to glas vin, fire timer inden hun valgte at køre tilbage til Malmø.

Hvordan regnes BAC (alkoholprocent i blodet) ud – og hvordan kan du i øvrigt selv være så sikker som mulig på lovligt at kunne køre bil, hvis du vælger at sætte dig bag rettet, når du har fået et par glas vin?

Først er det godt at vide, at:

Mængden af BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) hos den enkelte, er det der afgør promillen.

Kvinder kan som udgangspunkt tåle mindre end mænd, dette hænger sammen med kropsbygning, vægt og enzymaktivitet

Når man taler om en ‘genstand’, regner man med at der er mellem 8-14 gram alkohol i.

En genstand kan være enhver alkoholisk drik; øl, vin, spiritus, likør.

I en standardflaske på 0,75 l er der typisk 6 glas vin à 12,5 cl

Hvert glas i en sådan flaske med 14% abv (alcohol by volume) svarer til ca 12 gr alkohol pr glas.

Som hovedregel regnes med at alkohol forbrændes med 0,15 promille i timen (dog ikke hvis du drikker mere end én genstand i timen. Jo flere genstande i timen, jo højere promille) (Kilde: Sundhed.dk)

Alkoholen fordeler sig gennemsnitligt i 60% af kropsvægten hos kvinder, og 70% hos mænd (kilde: Sundhed.dk)

1 glas vin à 12,5 cl  / 12 gr alkohol

Regn din egen – cirka – promille ud når der er gået en time efter at du har drukket et enkelt glas med ca. 12 gr alkohol i (eksempelvis rødvin med 14% abv):

For kvinder der vejer 65 kg: 12 gr (1 glas) / 39 (kropsvægt x 60%) – 0,15 (de 0,15 der forbrænder den første time efter indtagelse af glasset) = 0,158 ~ 0,16 (næsten 0,2 som ministeren blev stoppet med)

Når der er gået to timer er promillen ca: 12 / 39 – (2 x 0,15=0,3) = 0,00769 ~ 0,008

I Hadzialics tilfælde, med en mulig kropsvægt på ca 50 kg, vil regnestykket se således ud:

24 gr (2 glas) / 30 – 0,6 (4 timer x 0,15 promille) = 0,2

Umiddelbart burde promillen dog have været lidt lavere, da det ene glas var champagne. I champagne er der typisk 12 – 12,5% abv og således bliver promillen jo lavere:

22/22,5 / 30 – 0,6 (4 timer x 0,15 promille= 0,13/0,15. En højere promille i denne sammenhæng kan også betyde at Hadzialic måske har lav enzymaktivitet i mavesækken, som kan ‘forsinke’ alkolforbrændingen.

 

Er man ude til en god middag hvor der eksempelvis serveres fire retter, akkompagneres disse typisk af fire glas vin

Indtages 4 glas vin på blot en time, af en kvinde på ca 65 kg, ser promillen således ud:

48 / 39 – 0,15 = 1,08

 

For mænd der vejer 85 kg:

4 glas på en time:

48 / 59,5 – 0,15= 0,66 promille

 

For at kunne køre lovligt hjem i bil efter indtagelse af 4 glas, skal der altså for kvinder på ca 65 kgs vedkommende gå hele fem timer (48/39 – 0,75 = 0,481), og nok snare seks for at være på den sikre side. Og for mænd på ca 85 kgs vedkommende skal der gå ca. 3 timer (48 / 59,5 – 0,45 = 0,36)

 

Italy’s Native Grapes – by far the largest number in the World

Italian Wine Nerds, here’s a great book recommendation

I’m on to Ian D’Agata and his masterpiece “Native Wine Grapes of Italy”. The summa of 30 years spent in the world of wine and 13 years of research has left him counting more than 500 native examples (latest count by Robinson, for instance, were 377) and let me already now quote Ian for the glory of native Italian Grapes and wine making : “Italy has by far the largest number of grape varieties from which to make wine. Even more than the blessing of ideal microclimates and geologically diverse soils, this rich biodiversity is the single greatest winemaking asset Italian producers share”. There we are! Another important fact when writing and reading about wine is of course to remember that latest news become old very fast due to the rapid changes and new discoveries occurring in the wine business all the time. In the preface Ian writes this about his own book: “In some respects this book, once published, will already be old. However, it represents by far the most thouroughly researched, in-depth, and accurate book on Italy’s native grapes and wines available today”. Amen

Macedonian wines – inspiring story and great potential

Last week I had the privilege of sitting through a Master Class on Macedonian wines, held by Wine Journalist Darrel Joseph from the Decanter. I was up for some quite interesting informations on the lands wine history as well as on the core quality of some of the wines from what may be referred to as the country’s best producers. ‘Best producers’ seen from a, wonderfully, very enthusiastic Wine Journalist’s point of view (Darrel), as well as some internationally heavy tongues such as Robert Parker/Wine Advocate.

First of all, I knew absolutely nothing about macedonian wines and I have to admit, that I hadn’t even tasted some until this joined Master Class and tasting. I don’t know how many out there are like me, but considering that Macedonia until recently was practically only known within Macedonia itself and Yugoslavia (until the breakup of the state in 1990) for its big volumes of bulk production with high yields and no investments in quality and/or branding, it’s possible that the wines from this country might also be very new, if not unknown, to you as well. If so, this is where you are in for some great news.

Cool facts

Macedonian wines have a lot to offer. Leading producers and wine makers have invested intensively in developing the grape growing and wine making from the late 1990’s. New wineries have been build while old ones have been restructured. This effort has with the establishment of the NGO Wines of Macedonia (WOM) in 2010 been backed up. WOM provides strategic support to the Macedonian wine sector, they do advocating and they do branding. Macedonian wines have a great and growing potential but unfortunately – at least for now – a much too heavy use of wood. I truly hope that Macedonian producers will soon realise this. The country, a landlocked republic in the heart of the Balkans, situated with an altitude of 110-650 meters above sea level. It borders Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece and has a population of 2 million people, an annual harvest of up to 300.000 tons of grapes and 120 million liters of wine production. 3 wine regions and 16 districts within, a few handfuls of indigenous grapes (28; 50% red and 50% white), the country’s second biggest agricultural export product right after tobacco, a transitional climate (mediterranean to continental), 270 sunny days, rich alluvial soils (mineral, clay and limestone). And the largest winery in Southeastern Europe with almost 225.000 ha within a total vineyard area of 33.500 representing 0,4% of the world’s vineyard total. Macedonia enters as the 25th country in world wine production. 60% is still sold in bulk and the remaining 40% in bottles.

The tasting

We had 10 different wines, one rosé and nine reds, almost all reds made on the country’s #1 grape pride; Vranec. No whites. I didn’t have time to do the open wine tasting that followed the seminar with Darrel, so while still there I never found out why there were no whites at the Master Class. In the meantime I’ve passed by the homepage http://www.winesofmacedonia.mk to try to get wiser. Out of the approximately 14 indigenous green grape varieties Macedonia is blessed with, three of them are explained on winesofmacedonia.mk. The first; “Smederevka” (which again is supposed to originate from Serbia) should give high yield and wines with fruity aromas & low alcohol to be drunk young. The other two listed in there; “Zhilavka” and “Temjanika” on the other hand should leave top quality wines what goes for Zhilavka and for Temjanika, intense flavours of thymes and aromas of Muscat. Temjanika also comes in a dark, and rare edition, leaving top quality wines as the Zhilavka. I look forward to taste some of these ones and more in near future.

Recommendations

“Vranec” is the absolute king of grapes in Macedonia. I understand why. It has got a fantastic potential. Unfortunately, from practically all the producers we tasted it the wines were overloaded with oak. That’s to bad. I’m convinced that Vranec can do much more ‘on its own’ and become much more elegant and by default much more high-quality segment and thus with what it takes to compete internationally. IF applied with more delicate wine making techniques. Looking forward to follow Vranec on its journey. When it comes to the characteristics, aroma and flavours of red and black berries were very intense and very pleasant in most of the wines we had. A bit to much jammyness in some but an interesting diversity in others, particularly one; Dissan Barrique 2012 from Bovin Winery. The wine had stored six months on new Macedonian oak barrels and both nose and palate left me with doubts of faultiness due to cork. However, it was not cork. The characteristic taste and smell of cork fault slowly disappeared. It left me something ‘different’ that I find very difficult to explain.

The best Vranic-based wine we had at this tasting was with no doubt the : Vranec Barrique 2011 from Ezimit Vino. A ruby red with pronounced aromas of red berries, sweet spices, wet leaves, savoury elements and an intense well structured body with pronounced flavours of oak, vanilla, red and black berries, chocolate, floral notes and a pleasantly long finish. 13,5% abv. Great glass.

N. 2

Vranec Veritas 2011 from Stoby Winery. A purple youngster with intense aromas of red and black berries and sweet spices, in particular cinnamon. On the palate; full bodied and pronounced flavours of red berries, oak, vanilla, sweet spices and bitter chocolate. Long finish.

N. 3 left me thinking. A wine with a lot to say. And yet not as balanced as you’d expect. Vranec Terroir Grand Reserva 2012 from Chateau Kamnik. A heavy purple fellow with intense aromas of red fruits, sweet spices, vanilla, oak, coco and … volatile acidity (nail varnish remover). Which is normally judged as an aroma fault. However, on the palate it didn’t show. Instead it had high levels of tannins, burning alcohol (too much), pronounced flavours of coco, red fruits, oak, vanilla, chocolate, sweet spices and resinous. Long finish and purchasable at Skovgaardvine.dk in Denmark at 650 dkk. Interesting in it’s own way.

Macedonian wines have inspired me with their story and potential.