The Proceedings of the conference held during “Terracotta and Wine 2016” are now published for further exploration. The data, values and results of the investigations referred to above were disclosed for the first time at the International Convention held at Fornace Agresti  – Impruneta on the 19th and 20th November 2016. They focused in particular on four issues:

  • – The results of a study of the analysis of metals present in wines fermented in terracotta.
  • – The preliminary results (the investigation is still in progress) on the characteristics imparted to wine through the process of fermentation and aging in terracotta jars made in Impruneta.
  • – New technologies inspired by the ancient Georgian and Portuguese traditions.
  • – The “Amphora of Empoli” described by the Archaeological Museum of Montelupo.


  1. “Metals and wine in amphora: analytical investigations and state of the art”: the results

By Oenologists Francesco Bartoletti and Adriano Zago

During the 2015 grape harvest, winemakers Francesco Bartoletti and Adriano Zago, both technical advisors of Artenova, made a thorough investigation of the presence of metals in wines fermented in terracotta wine-jars from Spain, Georgia and Impruneta. The study, involved six Italian wine producers, all clients of Artenova’s, and concluded that the only metal that in some cases demonstrated a certain increase was aluminium, in particular in the Spanish Tinajas. All other metals were of insignificant presence. The study was made starting with the analysis of the must before it went into the amphorae for fermentation. This was to understand the natural content of metals present in the raw material before being processed. In some cases the levels actually dropped after resting in amphora.

15134655_10209941496367275_4276840881116403955_n2.The influence of fermentation and maturation in terracotta jars on the characteristics of wine

By Luciano Lepri, Tania Martellini and Alessandra Cincinelli, University of Florence, Department of Chemistry

During the convention “Terracotta and Wine” the University of Florence presented the first results on the research conducted by the Department of ChemistryUgo Schiff” in collaboration with Artenova (Impruneta). The processes of alcoholic fermentation, maturation and conservation have a critical effect on the chemical-physical and sensorial parameters that characterize the wine and are strictly dependent on the type of container in which these processes take place. Research has defined these characteristics by determining chemical and physical-chemical macro-parameters (total acidity, pH, alcohol content, sugar), and by analysing specific volatile compounds that give aromas to the wine.

This first phase of investigation was conducted to determine the mineral composition of the clay and to do this, Artenova prepared 4 amphorae, two fired at a temperature of 1050 ° C for 70 hours, and two at a temperature of 900 ° C for 78 hours. This was in order to assess the influence of these two parameters on the porosity of the jars. The first chemical-physical measurements of porosity have shown that the jars fired at a lower temperature showed a higher percentage of water absorption (about 18%) compared with the others. These measurements will be repeated on similar portions of an amphora taken after the fermentation and aging of the wine. The research also involved contemporaneously fermenting and ageing two types of wine, a Sangiovese and a Cabernet Franc in the two different types of amphora and in traditional steel containers. The research was conducted in the cellars of “Castello del Trebbio”.

At the end of the fermentation phase, the aromatic profile of the wine and the mineral composition showed no particular differences between the wines fermented in amphora and steel. Obviously this is only the initial alcoholic fermentation phase of the wine, the most substantial differences, which will happen during the period of aging, will be seen over time. In particular, these preliminary results indicated that during the fermentation stage in both types of amphora, there was a possible transfer of small quantities of aluminium. Aluminium is a constituent of raw clay in the form of silicate.

15107278_1151691038212848_2430516034537238735_n“Clay is here to Stay”:  new technologies inspired by the ancient Georgian and Portuguese traditions

By Paul White, Oxford University

New technologies and ancient traditions: Paul White, professor of Oxford University and journalist of The World of Fine Wine, in his talk during ” Terracotta and Wine 2016″ described parallels between what took place in the genre of classical music during the 70’s and 80’s and the revolution that terracotta is now bringing to the world of wine. According to Paul White, just as classical music at that point in its history rediscovered its “terroir”; winemaking in terracotta today represents our latest, technology.

White predicts that the fermentation of wine in barriques is a phenomenon that will go out of fashion and that terracotta will be “our most modern technology”. He then went on to describe the Culture of Talhas in Portugal, which, like the Qvevri of Georgia, go back thousands of years and yet are still being used for winemaking in some remote villages in the south. In fact there is now a renewed interest on the part of Portuguese producers to revive the tradition. Also interesting are the differences in technique, highlighted by Paul White, between the Qvevri and Talha traditions.

Here is our exclusive interview with wine producers from Alentejo in Portugal published on the website of “La terracotta e il vino”.

15079027_1151527848229167_5481077851519778811_n4. The “ Amphora of Empoli” and the establishment of a Network of Museums to divulge “terracotta and wine”

By Ilaria Alfani and Marzio Cresci, Archaeological Museum of Montelupo Fiorentino

In two separate discussions we learned about the archaeological discovery known as “The Amphora of Empoli”. Testimony of a wine growing area, it is thanks to the amphora, used for the transportation and storage of wine, that, between the fourth and fifth centuries AD, Ancient Tuscia, developed a thriving economy in a time of crisis.

The director of the Archaeological Museum of Montelupo, Marzio Cresci, then went on to speak of his idea for a network of museums to illustrate the ancient practice of winemaking in terracotta jars.

unnamed ingleseRead the PDF version of the Conference on: “Terracotta and Wine 2016, the Proceedings ” on Artenova’s website. See also Artenova’s February 2017 Newsletter.


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