ENOSIS Meraviglia

Centro ricerche applicate allo sviluppo enologico

Donato Lanati The wine-whisperer

Donato Lanati has devoted a lifetime to wine

Donato Lanati The wine-whisperer

» Donato Lanati The wine-whisperer

Donato Lanati has devoted a lifetime to wine

“I stood spellbound by those luminous blue grape clusters. I ran to my mother and announced that as a man I would study this fruit: I would become an enologist”.

“Like Lucio Battisti, who at a certain point in his career stopped giving interviews and allowed only hIs songs to do the talking for him, I would like to do the same through my wines”. Donato Lanati has dedicated his whole life to wine: yet his eyes still sparkle with the same enthusiasm he had as a child of eight when, for the first time, he roamed freely in a vineyard. “I was enchanted by those luminous blue grape clusters. I ran to my mother and announced that I would study that fruit when I grew up; I would become an enologist.

Now 61, he is considered by the magazine, ‘Wine Enthusiast’, to be among the top five enologists in the world. He is an ‘Enostar’ and consultant to some of the most important wineries, as well as recent winner of the Oscar of wine in 2015.He has already carried out many ‘reconnaissance missions’ in all of Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and Georgia in order to monitor the progress and positioning of Italy’s competitors. This year, for the first time, Italy has surpassed even France in terms of wine production.

Lanati, ex-motorcyclist and goalkeeper, man of a thousand vines and interests, has never lost that humility common to those who start in this business from nothing, spurred on by an indefatigable passion. We met at Enosis (his state-of-the-art research center near Fubine, in Monferrato), the name of which literally means ‘the place where one speaks of wine’. This advanced technological center is dedicated to the study of that incredible ‘natural biochemical laboratory’ which is the grape berry itself where, buried within it, is the story of the vintage, the climate, the health of the land and also the work of man and the history of the winemaking area. Around the great farmhouse, forty or so indigenous single grape varieties are being cultivated: the wine producers bring samples of the harvest which are then microscopically  x-rayed to identify the perfect formula to enhance and intensify their organoleptic characteristics. This accords a great advantage to the winemakers who can know in advance if a Nebbiolo will become a great Barolo or not.  

“The color is the most immediate attraction but the most interesting aspect is the invisible movements of the perfumes and bouquet”. To that end, thirty years ago Lanati invented his wine glass ‘Meraviglia'  [marvelous], whose characteristic central ring similar to the ring of Saturn, captures and retains these perfumes and aromas.

“I have never been content just to make a good wine, rather more than anything else, I’ve have wanted to understand why and how it is so, scientifically identifying the emotional shades and subtleties”, says Lanati, the modern day ‘007 of the vines’ with an anthropologist’s soul. Every tasting (as many as 300 a day sometimes) creates a ‘chaos of the senses” which I try to translate into simple concepts, like a flower or a little man, to give the consumers what they desire: quality, transparency and certainty”. The 2015 vintage brought a record harvest that put Italy at the top of the international producers with 48.9 million hectoliters. Thanks to a sweltering summer, a bumper harvest was forecast with increases exceeded 10% in Lazio, Umbria, Trentino Alto Adige, Puglia and Campania. A record that the E.U. has recognized, even if, cautions Lanati, “Our turnover remains decidedly inferior to that of France”. Ecology always goes hand in hand with understanding and communication: “It isn't easy to foresee what will be liked or not liked, but one thing is certain: a winning strategy will not be just to concentrate solely on quality; we will need to arouse the customer’s curiosity and impart the culture of a winegrowing area and terroir, without forgetting that wine is the principle ambassador for Italian food and agricultural produce. This is what the consumer wants in the glass – the possibility to savor our story, our history”. Our main weapon is the bygone memory written into the DNA of our vines. Italy boasts of more than 400 single grape varieties selected during the course of time, according to the needs of our farming culture such as Nebbiolo and Barbara, which are envied around the entire world. “And we study the intimate relationship between the vine, the soil and the climate, always aware that sustainability can only be achieved through knowledge”. A knowledge for which Lanati has always hungered, “As a youth I could do nothing”, he remembers, “but it was this hunger for knowledge that pushed me forward”.

A challenge that never ends, because the wines of tomorrow will be those that please today’s young people, but, above all, “that wine that when drunk transports the mind to the very place of its origins. That wine capable of ravishing the soul, bringing you back to its vineyards and its people. Easy to drink, immediate, refined; a wIne that transmits serenity and speaks of a special place. An example? Pinot Noir, for sure, but also the Toccarino and Magliocco from Calabria, the Bulgarian Mavrud and the Saperavi in Georgia”.

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