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Winemakers want special a “reserve” for an exceptional 2015

by Giorgio dell'Orefice

Italian wine producers want to celebrate the 2015 vintage - which looks set to be of unusually excellent quality - with a special “reserve” label.

The idea is to set aside more wine from 2015 for the “reserve” (which is of superior quality and carries a special label) than in other years.

The “reserve” label is in a way a barometer of quality, considering that it usually involves particularly valuable grapes, while in difficult years, no reserve is usually produced.

Of course, not all of the types of wines can be involved, but the reds meant for aging like those from Piedmont, the Amarone from Veneto, and the Tuscan greats all will be candidates.

So they would thus be taken off the market today in order to be sold in 5 or 6 years time preceded by the allure of an exceptional vintage.

In fact, the 2015 production was not just abundant (Italy is back as the world’s largest producer) but also of especially high quality. The time is right to consider enhancing this year’s value through expanding the top segment of the market.

This exciting proposal was brought up in the past few days by Dario Tommasi, a leading Amarone producer, but also the owner of nearly 600 hectares of vines in four diverse regions, from Veneto to Tuscany, from Lombardy to Puglia.

“We must think about how we can enhance an already extraordinary vintage,” explained Tommasi, “in which the July heatwave hindered the growth of parasites and vine diseases, eliminating the use of chemical treatments in the field. Then in August, when the plants began to suffer the stress of dehydration, the right amount of rain came just in time. All with a timeliness that seems entirely planned, and guaranteed high grape quality and a lowering of costs (due to lack of treatment) by approximately 30%.”

“I think that the strengthening of the ’reserve’ is a great idea,” adds Federvini president, Sandro Boscaini. “However, it will be important for the banking system to accompany winemakers with the financial tools designed for an operation which is not suitable for all, and might present prohibitive costs for smaller producers.”

“Technically,” adds president of the DOC Wines Committee of Agriculture Ministry Giuseppe Martelli, “there are no quantitative volume restrictions earmarked for reserves, just qualitative requirements, like a minimum alcohol content, and a minimum of three years of aging, which I do not believe wines from the 2015 vintage will have trouble satisfying.”

“This is a proposal on which we all agree,” adds president of Marchesi de' Antinori, Piero Antinori. “At the company level, we have already decided to designate higher than average volumes to our ’reserve’ wines compared to recent years.”

“This is both in order to preserve a vintage which promises to be of great quality, as well as to address future harvests which could prove less fortunate,” he continued. “In conclusion, I think that an initiative of this kind can contribute to the appraisal of the price of Made in Italy wines, reducing the price gap which finds Italian wines marked down compared to the French competitors.”

Banco Popolare has signed a financing agreement for Amarone and Recioto wine stocks. The bank and the Consortium for the protection of Valpolicella wines, in collaboration with Siquria Spa, have signed an innovative deal, the first of the kind in Italy, to preserve the exclusive nature of Recioto, and in particular, of Amarone.

Following an almost perfect summer for local wine varieties, the 2015 season is particularly positive for the quality and quantity of the special wines. In order to protect the unique quality of the product, thanks to the loan program “Vendemmia 2015” (Grape harvest 2015), wine producers that are members of the consortium can receive funding while contributing to support the Amarone, the king of red wines.

In particular, “they could fund their activities by updating the bank in real time, through the Consortium and Siquria, of the consistency and evolution of the stocks of Amarone and Recioto kept in their cellars, without being forced to sell it ahead of time to get the liquidity necessary to run their ordinary business, protecting at the same time the wines' prestige and value.”

The financing lasts for a maximum of 60 months with a grace period of up to 30 months adjusted to the natural cycle of the wine.