This time Lorenzo Colombo takes the stand.
Wines from Heroic Viticulture
We participate often,and with delight, as judges at wine tastings, both national and
international, and as of this writing I’m in Berlin for the summer edition of the Berliner Wein Trophy. However, I had never had occasion to attend the Concorso Internazionale sui Vini di Montagna, organized annually by CERVIM, in the Valle d’Aosta.
But the occasion came, and on July 4 we got together at Sarre, near Aosta, together with about 30 winemakers and wine tasters from a number of countries to taste and judge more than 650 wines from heroic viticulture. Let’s begin by introducing CERVIM, and discussing the organization of the tasting.
CERVIM (Centro di Ricerche, Studi e Valorizzazione per la Viticoltura Montana, the Center for Research, Study and Promotion of Mountain Viticulture) is an international organization founded to promote and support heroic viticulture, which can be defined as:
- Vineyard slopes greater than 30%
- Altitude greater than 500 meters above sea level
- Terraced vineyards
- Vineyards on the smaller islands
The wines presented must therefore be from areas and wineries that meet the above requirements.
The statutes governing CERVIM allow for three membership categories, as follows:
1. A): Regions, Provinces and interprofessional organizations with more than 5,000 hectares of mountain vineyards
2. B): Communes, Mountain Communities, and interprofessional organizations with less than 5,000 hectares of mountain vineyards.
3. C): The founding members, individual and associated wineries, research institutes, both Italian and foreign.
The participating wine making regions are almost all European – in addition to Italy there are Spain, Germany, Austria, Greece, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, and Hungary – though there is also the United States, with North Carolina. Until recently Portugal was also present, with the Douro region, but due to the economic conditions they have withdrawn. For further information I suggest you visit the CERVIM site, which provides a great deal of useful information.
And this brings us tot he 21st edition of the tasting, with 653 wines presented ( a new record, 45 more than in the last edition) and two new wine zones, the Canary Islands and Armenia.
As one might expect, the country presenting the most wines – 365 – was Italy, followed by germany, with a hundred wines, almost all from the Palatinato area, then Spain, with 85 wines, Switzerland with 72, France with 16, Austria with 6, Slovenia with 5, Greece with 3, and Armenia with 1.
The most strongly represented Italian region was the Valle D’Aosta (to be expected, as they host the competition), with 81 samples, followed by Lombardia (60), Sicily (46), The Province of Trento (46), The Veneto (33), The Province of Bolzano (24), Liguria (22), and then the rest. Puglia, which lacks mountains, was absent, as were Umbria, the Marche, Basilicata and Molise.
The wines are subdivided into eight categoies on the basis of type, color, vintage, and residual sugar, and must be classified as either DOP or IGP, or the equivalents of other countries.
Since the tasting is overseen by the OIV the six tasting commissions followed their rules; each commission consisted of 5 tasters, three of whom must be winemakers or cellarmasters, one must be a master taster, and the fifth a wine writer. For the tasting to be considered “international,” more than half of the participating judges must be from countries other than that organizing the tasting, and indeed there were tasters from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Slovenia, many of whom I already knew from participating at events throughout Europe.
My commission’s President was François Murisier (President of the CERVIM’s Comitato Tecnico Scientifico); we also had a winemaker from the Veneto, another from the Valle D’Aosta, a German from the Moselle region, and then there was me and my colleague from Vinealia.
Rather than use the traditional paper evaluation sheets, here we used electronic score cards loaded as apps on tablets issued to each judge; this greatly hastened the tasting by allowing the judges to concentrate exclusively upon the wines, and also helped it flow more smoothly and with less stress, as the possibility of making mistakes in filling out the forms was greatly reduced.
After filling out the score card the judge sends it to the President of the commission, who replies with the average score awarded the wine. This allows an exchange of opinions, and gives the tasters the opportunity to review their scores, after which the President registers the scores, and sends them to the data center.
This judgement system was developed by the Swiss Vinea Association; it is generally employed in wine tastings held in Switzerland, and since Vinea is associated with the Concorso Vini di Montagna, they oversaw the elaboration of the data.
The Tasting was divided into three tasting sessions, during which our commission tasted 115 wines, in flights of wine from the various categories. We assigned 12 Gold medals and one Great Gold medal.
With regards to medals and scores, it is worth noting that the Concorso Vini di Montagna adopts criteria more ridgid than those followed by the OIV: To win a Silver medal a wine must have an average score of at least 85/100; for Gold the minimum is 90/100, and for Great Gold 94/100. The OIV’s minimum scores are 82/100, 85/100 and 92/100.
Finally, per OIV regulations, no more than 30% of the wines presented at the tasting can receive awards.
The Great Gold Medal we awarded went to a sweet German wine, a Riesling to be precise, while we were also quite pleased to assign a Gold medal to a rosé (Italian, as it turned out), considering that rosès are often looked down upon by both wine judges and consumers.
The complete list of the wines presented and the prizes awarded will be released anon, probably at the end of August.
Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.