The cellar is the beating heart of the company where the manual skills of the operators and the knowledge of the winemaker merge. Of course, today, technology is an indispensable element which, however, according to some, has taken poetry away from a work that is lost in the mists of time.
We ask the oenologist Dario Parenti for his opinion on the matter.
What is your opinion on the statement: “Wine is no longer made in the vineyard, but only in the cellar”? A cliché or does it hide a grain of truth?
No, I think it is actually the opposite. I believe the centrality of the cellar is a legacy of the late 90s – early 2000s. Today, there is great awareness, at all production levels (even more so in the smaller production realities), of the importance of bringing balanced grapes in the basement. The work in the cellar, at that point, must be a mere function of protection first and then an enhancement of the aromatic and polyphenolic content of the grapes.
How much has technology in the cellar improved and how depersonalized the work of the winemaker?
Progress in winemaking has certainly benefited the activity of the oenologist. We must, however, be able to distinguish those equipment that are actually useful from those that depersonalize the identity of the grape and the winemaker even before the work of the winemaker (for example, the violent and uniform extraction of Flash-Detente).
According to your experience, which technological tool today is impossible to give up?
The pressure washer! Hygiene is the sine qua conditio from which to start working well in the cellar. Then, a good pomp (peristaltic and mohno in primis) that you treat with respect must and wine is fundamental in maintaining the quality from the vineyard to the cellar. Many other available equipment are, furthermore, useful but I consider them indispensable only when functional to achieve certain oenological objectives, it is difficult to list them all.
What are the main criticalities of a cellr and what is your modus operandi to solve them?
It always depends on the structure and layout of the cellar. I think of the risk that there is, in older cellars, of a risk of post-washing water stagnation and a limited possibility of sanitation with the consequent risk of creating sources of inoculation of highly polluting microorganisms.
From a logistical-organizational point of view, certainly, an optimal reception capacity during the harvest and convenient management of the wines in aging for several years.
In your imagination, how should your ideal cellar be structured? Did you manage to find it in any company?
Difficult to say, however, in addition to the aforementioned need for an easily sanitized environment, good control of humidity and ambient temperature is essential, especially for wood aging environments.