Wine & Other Stories

Gianni Menotti: the ideal cellar

La visione di Gianni Menotti sulla cantina
Written by Piero Pardini

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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 Gianni Menotti 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?

I don’t think it’s a cliché and, in any case, it doesn’t belong to me. I am also an agronomist and, therefore, I could never think that wine is made only in the cellar.
For me, the best winemaker is the one who, given the value of the grapes, manages to maintain this potential in the transformation into wine.
So, it all depends on the vine!

How much has technology in the cellar improved and how depersonalized the work of the winemaker?

It depends on the technologies used. Many respect the value of grapes and wine, others, for example, reduce processing times by also reducing the value of grapes or wine.
In general, however, the latest generation technology is decidedly of the highest level so its use almost always leads to maintaining the quality of the product and above all to avoiding errors in all stages of winemaking.

According to your experience, which technological tool today is impossible to give up?

One of the tools that, for years, has been indispensable is the cold chain which has been, perhaps, the most important technology of the last 50 years.
By now, it is present in almost all wineries and has greatly reduced the oenological problems that systematically occurred without the aid of this important and above all “non-invasive” technology. It is an absolutely natural physical tool that helps the technician to control all stages of winemaking.

What are the main criticalities of a cellr and what is your modus operandi to solve them?

The main criticality is before, during and immediately after fermentation, when millions of biological transformation processes follow one another very quickly.
The oenologist must know them and know how to lead them so that they develop naturally and without deviations that would lead to modify the final result which must always be aimed at obtaining the highest quality.
Therefore, the grapes must be perfect both from a health point of view and from a ripening point of view, seeking the maximum qualitative potential in the balance of all the natural elements present in the berry.

In your imagination, how should your ideal cellar be structured? Did you manage to find it in any company?

Like all ideal things it is a bit difficult to find it totally perfect. What matters most, in my opinion, is the territory. It represents the fundamental starting point for obtaining a great result. The cellar is a consequence and only needs to be structured to allow the transformation of grapes into wine without affecting the natural parameters present in the grapes. I must say that with my companies I have managed to have a lot of what I need which translates into a harmony of thought between me, the property and the territory. I am repeating myself in the concepts and, as you see, I always aim for the agronomic-oenological balance, but believe me, that’s all.

About the author

Piero Pardini

Founder and editor of "The Wolf Post", Italian based International digital wine platform.
Freelance Journalist.
Wine critic and Sommelier.
He has also written about sports and technology for some specialized magazines.
Co-author of the authorized biography "Gianni Clerici - The writer, the poet the journalist", Le Lettere, Firenze.

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