Barrique or no barrique, that is the (false) question

Some time ago in the Poggio Argentiera blog, Gianpaolo Paglia claimed to have given shape to the idea of bringing an end to barriques. In my view, his idea is a respectable one because a wine producer does have the prerogative to change his interpretation of his wine over time. Many opinion leaders in the world of wine have lined up to applaud this courageous gesture. Certainly the tendency in viticulture is to limit use of these small containers of 225l, privileging larger sizes that better express the characteristics intrinsic to wine, instead of those of wood.

No barrique, No Berlusconi, was the judgment passed by Bartolo Mascarello a few years ago. But during the same period, if a wine did not “know” wood, it was not deemed noteworthy by any journalist at the “international” level and and so sales were complicated. I think that the little barrels of French oak should not be seen as “the bad guys”, but rather they should be valued as a tool for the refinement of wine that softens tannins and helps the oxidizing evolution of the aromas and flavors, thanks to the porousness of the wood.

Certainly it is necessary to not abuse them; without a doubt some vintages lend themselves better to refinement in barriques than others. I believe however that the important, courageous decisions are not those tied to the question of the barrique, but rather to the attainment of future goals, like zero-sulfur wine, the limitation of chemical weedkiller and chemical fertilizers in the vineyards, and protecting businesses that would stop use of gasoline and diesel fuel. I do not believe in so-called true wine, or bio-dynamic or organic wine, but rather in wine of good sense.

I do not suffer from the illusion that the world will become spontaneously and consciously “better”, but the era of petrol is on the wane and the great world powers are focused on investing in alternative energy; the polytechnic of Turin will finally dust off the electric car planned in the 1980s; and we producers will have more tools at our disposal for the production of less pollution without compromise of the quality that we cannot and must not renounce.