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In 2080 a much lighter and sweeter wine.

The ‘Center Agroinnova’ of the University of Turin researches the plants of the future

In 2080 a much lighter and sweeter wine.
In 2080 a much lighter and sweeter wine.

» In 2080 a much lighter and sweeter wine.

The ‘Center Agroinnova’ of the University of Turin researches the plants of the future

Thanks to climate change the wines from le Langhe could lose their intense red color in the next 30 years and become more orange.


Due to climate change, the wine from Le Langhe in Piedmont could lose its characteristic bright red hue becoming instead more orange in color. But color in wine is also taste and bouquet. The taste would be sweeter and much smoother than now and the leaves could become thorns or spines. The vines would have to be much more resistant to more aggressive bacteria and fungi. Moreover, wine could be grown in northern Europe. In looking for solutions this might be one inevitable scenario.

And that is just what the “Agroinnova” center, part of the University of Turin, is doing. For at least 10 years it has been carrying out research on the plants of the future, starting from the vines. Imagine a rise of two degrees more in temperature, carbon dioxide levels that spiral ever higher, regular periods of aridity: all of these factors are taken into account during experiments on grape varieties such as Barbara, Nebbiolo and Moscato, thanks to the ”filotroni” – time machines that predict changes that may occur from now until 2080. The goal of the research is to avoid the necessity of moving cultivation northwards, as some champagne producers are already envisaging; even as far north as the Thames and above the 50thparallel. A certain slippage towards the north, it seems, will be inevitable. But it also carries many risks, according to Donato Lanati, whose highly elevated olfactory sense has placed him, according to the magazine “Wine Enthusiast”, among the top five enologists in the world. On the hilltops of Monferrato, sits Enosis, a wine laboratory and clinic. “In France – says Lanati -- viticulture is ubiquitous and varieties such as Merlot, Sauvignon and Chardonnay are studied assiduously. Closer to home, it is not the grape varieties that counts, but the region. I would even dare to say, tradition. Wines can be made in many different zones but the great wines are only made in specific zones. Nebbiolo is made in Le Langhe – it is no longer good in Monferrato. Only where there is a strong bond between territory, micro-climate and terrain do our wines reach excellence. Passing between the left and right banks of the Tanaro river one notes a profound difference in the taste and bouquet of the wines, despite using the same grape variety”. According to Lanati, further north:  “we won't find territories like Le Langhe or Montalcino – wines will be made with much lower alcohol levels” Here, one problem will be the heat, which puts the berries of the grape under stress thereby blocking the electrical charges and producing more sugars. In this way, one loses the brilliant red hue and the wine becomes orangey, full-bodied, rich and concentrated: the exact opposite of our wines, whose elegance we must defend.”

Faced with climatic changes, 2000 years of experience will not be enough. We can and we must equip ourselves. This is why we need much more research. It will be necessary to find a new system of ageing and different combinations of the oxygen in the barrels. In addition, it will be vital to provide shade for the berries, to change the frequency of the pruning, to bring forward the harvest times and to increase water supplies: to explore species mixed with Asiatic vines that have properties similar to cactuses. With heat, diseases until now specific only to the south will arrive in the north, increasing fungi and bacteria and changing the cycle of disease. These are the conclusions of studies carried out by a biotechnologist, an agronomist and a mathematician in projects financed by the European Union and in association with other international partners. At Grugliasco, the university has an experimental vineyard and one can observe climatic changes derived from statistical data from the last fifty years in the vineyards of Acqui Terme. At present Agroinnove, together with China, is studying ways to reduce the phytosanatary treatment of the vines. “With the heat and the addition of rising carbon dioxide levels, we will inevitably see an increase in the levels of peronospora (downy mildew) already widespread in the north and mal bianco (powdery mildew) now present in the south”, says Maria Lodovic Gullino, the director of Agroinnova and professor at the university of Turin. The most severely penalized vineyards will be those on the plains. Not only will much stronger measures be necessary they must also be brought forward in time. “We shouldn’t allow ourselves to fall prey to excessive pessimism but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared: we want the growers to adapt”. An example might be to explore new ways of hybridization, without necessarily using genetically modified organisms. However, with this heat, wines could even become toxic. “Wines from the south are already contaminated by a substance, l’orcratossina (orche toxins) – says Gullino -- that should never exceed certain certified limits. Even in this case one needs prevention.”

Fabrizio Assandri.


Exports on the rise.

The export of Italian wine has recorded a growth of + 4.8% compared to last year, registering an overall turnover of 5.5 billion euros. The most satisfying results concern the United States and China which has seen an increase in value of 13.8% and 18% respectively. Sparkling wines continued to confirm a trend in growth of + 17%

Cooperative wines.

58% of Italian wine is produced by cooperatives according to a survey by “Alleanze delle Cooperative Italiane”. In Trentino 3 out of 4 bottles are produced by cooperatives and 50% of prosecco in Veneto. Also in Tuscany and Piedmont the presence of cooperatives is notable with 50% of Nobile di Montepulcino and 42% of Dolcetto di Dogliani.  In Emiglio Romano production peaks at 90% in the case of Lambrusco.

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