THE AMPHORA ADVENTURE, IDEA AND INITIATIVE OF THREE FRIENDS: PARISI-BARTOLETTI-BETTINI
2017/02/15 adventure / amphorae / aroma profiles / article / district / experimentation / flavour / handmade / macro-parameters / oak barrels / oenologist / producers / queen internation / tasting / Terracotta / trio / University of Florence / wine
An article by Alessandra Piubello in the food & wine section of the periodical “Queen International” relates the story of Leonardo Parisi of Artenova and the first years of experimentation with a group of friends, Sergio Bettini and Oenologist Francesco Bartoletti. The story of an adventure that has almost by accident today led to, “the creation of a sort of district – writes Piubello – dedicated to amphorae. The trio of friends Parisi-Bartoletti- Bettini were the first to have the idea and to concretize it”.
The original article in italian version: Queen International-Terracotta e vino
The translation (by Roxana Edwards):
TERRACOTTA AND WINE
Once there was a tradition. Since the days of the Greeks, wine has been contained in terracotta amphorae. Then things changed and other containers were used, wood, concrete and steel. Now the taste of rediscovery is back. We went to Impruneta, famous throughout the world since the Renaissance for the exceptional quality of its clay, to meet Leonardo Parisi -Artenova, the second generation of a Workshop founded twenty years ago. In 2010, winemaker Francesco Bartoletti from the “Gruppo Matura”, along with Sergio Bettini, proposed an experiment to create amphorae for wine storage. The evidence over the years has allowed us to verify the excellent potential of the terracotta of Impruneta both from the physical point of view (durability and breathability) as from the chemical point of view (absence of heavy metals in its composition). And so, almost by chance, an adventure began which led to the creation of a sort of district dedicated to Impruneta amphorae. The trio of friends Parisi-Bartoletto-Bettini was the first to have the idea and to concretize it. Leonardo Parisi also founded the Cultural Association “La terracotta e vino”, of which he is president, to promote the knowledge of the artisan craftsmanship linked to clay, through the organization of events, conferences and debates. The most important event is held every two years, and is an international convention on the experiences of amphora winemaking from around the world, with the participation of experts, technicians and producers from countries with a strong tradition in the field. “Terracotta and Wine 2016”, the latest edition, which presented around 100 labels of wines made in amphora (Italian and international) as well as guided wine tasting sessions, was a great success. In addition to the fact that amphorae have a strong emotional characterization that takes us back to the origins of wine, the material from which they are made brings to mind the concept of earth and nature. The amphora is a handmade product, not reproducible in series. “It takes time – explains Leonardo Parisi – to create an amphora, up to three months. Much depends on the drying times for example sometimes it takes a month just for that. In winter often you cannot do more than 10, maximum 15 centimetres a day with the ancient (coil–pot) technique we use called ‘colombino’. Costs? Jars generally range from five hundred to three thousand euro depending on the size and shape. Now we export 50% abroad. “But what are the characteristics of the amphora we asked Francesco Bartoletti, also a consultant to Artenova, during a recent wine tasting event of seven amphora wines. “The porosity of clay is useful for the passage of oxygen into the wine. The amphora is well suited for long maceration times. It is a neutral container that does not confer exogenous perfumes, such as wood, for example. ” Due to the absence of specific data on the aroma profiles regarding wine in amphora, the innovative trio has delegated the Department of Chemistry of the University of Florence to research it. For the first time in the world they have stipulated a two-year research contract that will lead to the determination of chemical and physical macro-parameters (total acidity, pH, alcohol content, sugar), and analysis of specific volatile components, also useful to understand the transitory aspects happening over time. We are curious to find out the results. In the meantime, however, we immerse ourselves in tasting. We start with a Rosé Brut Champagne Henri Giraud, Dame Jane. The part of the Pinot Noir of this Champagne is made only using grapes from the Aÿ, fermented in oak barrels and then matured in terracotta amphorae. The olfactory profile emphasizes widespread floral nuances and the freshness of wild berries. Fragrant, crisp, striking for its tense acidic spike, for integrity, for the almost salty flavour and for the very long persistence. We continue with Noesis 2015 (Trebbiano, Malvasia, St. Colombano) by Tenuta Belvedere, one of the first companies to experiment the use of the amphora. Closed at the beginning, then it opens into nuances of beeswax, white plum, chamomile, fine herbs, and wildflowers. The framework of the overall taste is pleasant, fresh and gritty, with a dynamic savoury statement. Slightly almond like in closure. The Ansonaco 2015 by Le Anfore di Elena Casadei, four months in amphora, has a wraparound aromatic spectrum, with touches of plum, golden apples, peach, lilac, ash. A nice grip in the mouth, then it continues with a vital dynamism of savoury notes, almost saline. Character, integrity. We then go on to Cannonau 2015 Olianas, 35 days of maceration on the skins, six months in amphora. The aromatic design reveals Mediterranean shrubs, myrtle, plum, and blackberry. Canonau is amazing to the taste: very fresh, delicate, with savoury tannins. The Meriggio 2015 (barbera, cabernet sauvignon, merlot) by Corte D’Aibo, two weeks of maceration on the skins, five months in amphora, it has vegetable perfumes, with hints of blackcurrant. Vivacious, energetic, with tannins still very present, needs some more time in the bottle. The Marujo 2012 (syrah) by Tenuta Casteani has one whole year of maceration on the skins. To the nose it presents phenolic notes, in the mouth it is flat, the finale is rather vegetable. Perhaps not a good bottle, we intend to taste another. We close with Tresse 2012 (sangiovese, syrah and Sagrantino) by Arrighi, 18 months in amphora. A very unbalanced wine, tannic to the point of being untamed. It does not seek balance in its perfumes or flavours. A pity for the Sangiovese Le Anfore by Casadei – problems with the cork.