Impruneta clay. the research conducted by artenova together with the department of chemistry of the university of florence
2021/11/04 amphora wine / artenova / Impruneta clay / mille vigne / terracotta wine jars / the artenova workshop / the terracotta and wine conference / university of florence department of chemistry / wines fermented in terracotta
While the wine of the 2021 vintage is fermenting in the terracotta amphorae of Artenova we thought we’d give you a brief reminder of the unique characteristics of winemaking in amphora. Terracotta has exceptional thermal insulation and its porosity allows for excellent oxygenation enabling the wine to breathe. Both characteristics are ideal for maturation. Precise studies have been made on the clay from Impruneta used by Artenova, pioneer and world leader in the production of wine jars.
In 2016 Andrea and Leonardo Parisi, the owners of Artenova, commissioned a scientific investigation, working in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry of the University of Florence. This research (a world first!) has brought significant results on the sensorial characteristics of Amphora Wine and added new knowledge on the chemical-physical parameters of the product fermented and aged in terracotta jars. The aim was also to study scientifically the chemical composition of the clay itself used for the production of the jars and the variation in their porosity before and after vinification.
In 2017 the magazine “Mille Vigne” (a thousand Vineyards), a periodical on Italian winemakers, wrote a summary of the survey carried out by Artenova and the Chemistry Department of the University of Florence (below, the article in Word).
Influence of fermentation and aging in jars on the characteristics of the wine (Rorento Sorrentino)
Here is an excerpt that offers a significant example of the characteristics of the interaction between the terracotta from Impruneta and wine:
1. Terracotta provides excellent thermal insulation, both due to the material itself and for the fact that the jars are often buried in the ground. In this sense, it works better than steel and almost like concrete.
2. If the jar is not coated inside with beeswax, it allows the wine to oxygenate, slightly less than inside a barrique, but comparable to a medium-sized oak barrel with the advantage of not adding anything to the wine, neither tannins nor aromas.
3. Compared to concrete, it therefore creates isolation with the addition of healthy oxygenation. This helps revive the aromas and animate the fruit which concrete tends to extinguish and suffocate, at least in the early days.
4. Ultimately it has all the advantages of medium-sized barrels without the disadvantages of wood, plus the advantages of steel as an insulator, without disturbing the wine with the electrostatic problems of stainless steel.
5. For this reason it is a very suitable container to bring out grape varietals in general. Enabling the aromatic rich varieties, which would normally close off and shrink in concrete, to breathe and oxygenate. Moreover, helping a lot in the case of varieties with exuberant fruit and rich tannins such as Aglianico, Montepulciano, Piedirosso and Syrah, which are often exaggerated and rendered too heavy by wood and flattened by concrete.