Old vineyard makes good wine: it's not just a joke that takes up an old popular saying. In France, the use of old vines has always been a pride of the great maisons that proudly report their use on the label with the indication vieilles vignes.
Starting from this assumption, several Italian entrepreneurs have decided to re-evaluate old vineyards, perhaps allocating them to the production of special selections based on the sort of French grand cru. A productive choice, which contributes at the same time to the protection of the landscape, of the culture of the fields handed down from generation to generation and, last but not least, of a unique genetic heritage.
Priwine's partner wineries have long embraced this philosophy. To cite just a few examples, Cantina Giba's 6 Mura Rosso Riserva is obtained from vineyards in Carignano del Sulcis with an age that varies between 40 and 110 years. The Masqito Gold of Colli Cerentino is produced with Aglianico del Vulture vines over 100 years old. To make wine for its Faro, the Azienda Agricola Palari uses nerello mascalese and cappuccio vines that reach 70 years of age.
In addition to this, the partner wineries of Priwine use agronomic and pruning techniques aimed at optimal aging of the vines, such as the use by Casa Vinicola Aldo Rainoldi of the Simonit and Sirch pruning method. It is a diversified pruning technique based on the needs of the single plant - made through small cuts on young branches - which allows the wounds to heal quickly and well. On the other hand, cutting wood that is three years old and older would increase healing times, favoring a more likely entry of the fungi responsible for wood diseases.
The choice of winemakers is also reflected in scientific research. In fact, the viticultural and oenological behavior of old and young vines was compared during a test set up from 2002 to 2006 by the Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil research station in the experimental vineyards of Leytron in Switzerland. (see detail here http://link.ira.agroscope.ch/de-CH/publication/80 http://link.ira.agroscope.ch/de-CH/publication/4194)
The study was carried out on six grape varieties: Chasselas, Pinot bianco, Arvine, Gamay, Syrah and Humagne rosso. The results of the tests show that in some cases, in particular for red grape varieties, age becomes a determining factor, with effects both on the physiological behavior of the strains and on the quality of the grapes and wines.
Moreover, we must not forget that the vine is a living organism, which is born, grows and changes in the different phases of its life. So if the young vines can show a strong development of the plant, the old ones are able to withstand water stress better and this is all the more important in areas like ours where summer temperatures and the lack of rain put a strain on the plants. As for the reflections on the grapes, in the old vineyards there is certainly a contraction of the production per plant as well as of the changes in the main metabolites.
The influence on red berried grapes is linked to a greater concentration in anthocyanins, flavones and flavonoids, while in the white berried varieties there is the production of smaller berries whose content in sugars and primary aromas is certainly higher.
The results of the tests carried out in Leytron:
- Influence on the physiology of the strains. Young vines suffer more from water shortages due to surface rooting; the old ones show a more pronounced vegetative expression, a higher weight of the topping and of the pruning wood, as well as the value of the chlorophyll index and the nitrogen content of the leaves.
- Influence on the quality of grapes and wines. The total acidity and the formolo index were higher in the old vines, while the sugar content was indifferent to the age of the vine. As for the wines, the reds obtained from old vines were judged to be more complex and structured, while few differences were observed on white wines.
So, do not miss the chance to taste all our wines from old vines!