Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Interview with Graziana Grassini

Graziana Grassini (here her official site) is a biologist, chemist and enologist and we had the chance to ask her some questions for an interview. We thank her for the interview.

1) Where were you born?

I was born in Scarlino, a rich medieval town spanning the Follonica shores on the Maremma in Tuscany.

2) What was your first encounter with wine like?

I have been interested in wine since i was young. After the matriculation diploma in technical and industrial chemistry, i decided to open a laboratory that specializes in food and agricultural analysis. The laboratory, which i still run, is a welcome technical outlet that also boosts my work in enology. When I started analyzing and testing wine, there was a trigger that motivated me to learn more about this world. I also became more conscious of the complexity of wine making and as i am drawn to challenges, I took this one up willingly. Consequently I decided to pursue my studies with the aim of increasing my knowledge and expertise of wine. I followed a degustation course and in 1986 I graduated from the Technical Agrarian Institute of Siena as a specialist in viticulture and enology. In 1991 I was conferred the title of Enologist and in 2003 the degree in
Biological Sciences with a specialization in wine studies.

3) Before you became an enologist, which wines were your favourites?

The white wines produced in the north of Italy, specifically from Trentino Alto Adige and of course the famous red wines of my region. I am fascinated by the scents; in fact I would have liked to become a creator of perfume (also known as "nose" of scents). However I have discovered in wine the possibility of expressing my knowledge and expertise by consulting for the estates that produce white wines characterized by intensity and complexity.

4) Among the wines you have helped produce, which is the one you feel most proud and why?

This is not an easy question as is it quite difficult to pinpoint a specific wine, mainly because I feel the wines are like children so I consider them equal in importance and quality. However if I had to choose, I would say the white wines that I helped produce in Tuscany and Puglia, which are tworegions not usually suited for white wines. So this was a gamble which I feel I have succeeded in winning. The first white Tuscan wines I had produced when still quite young were Rondinaia and Convento del Castello del Terriccio. Following these were: the Vermentino Pagliatura by Fattoria di Magliano; the Val di Mare by Pakravan Papi: a very pleasant Riesling by Riparbella of Pisa; the Cenaia Vermentino by Torre a Cenaia; the Fossette by
Alberto Longo: my first white wine of Puglia which was a Falanghina; the Fiano Salento IGP by Agricole Vallone and l'Allegro: a Vermentino by Cantina i Vini di Maremma. Obviously I have to mention the red wines too, but out of all I am particularly fond of Sassicaia 2009.

5) What do you think of the agricultural industry that is biological and biodynamic in nature?

I believe in biological agriculture, and whenever possible I buy and consume organic products. This is because the latter are regulated and carefully controlled, at least from a technical and theoretical point of view. I also support biodynamic agriculture.

6) Nowadays, wine marketing is as important as wine production. what do you think about this? Should enologists concern themselves with communications and PR for wine?

Marketing, communications and PR are essential in the wine industry. It is useless producing very good wines if the customer is not informed about them. Among many things, one has to think about the label, the organoleptic characteristics, the connection with the terroir, and the philosophy behind the production. As to who should be responsible for such marketing, I believe there are different roles to follow. Both the proprietor of an estate and the enologist need to work together to promote the wines, to communicate their enthusiasm and passion for the wines they produce. Communication is a science and as such needs to be undertaken with competence and attention, so the enologist needs to work in collaboration with such communication experts.

7) How did your contract with Tenuta San Guido come about and what has been your contribution to the wines of the estate?

I am not an employee of Tenuta San Guido, but a consulting enologist. In October 2009, Giacomo Tachis was retiring so I was contacted by the Marquis Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta and the director Carlo Paoli so I would evaluate the wines at the end of the fermentation process. This brief engagement turned out to be successful, and one that gave me great satisfaction as well as responsibility; consequently, this marked the
beginning of our collaboration, I offer my expertise on all that involves wine production and then the Marquis makes the final decisions.

8) Due to the fact that you are the enologist of more than one estate, on average how many times in a year do you visit and consult with all of the estates you collaborate with?

The number of visits depends on the estate, the type of agreement, and my  role. At least I visit the estates once a month; however, this will vary  from one estate to another, so it could be anything from once a week to once  a month. I am always on call and available to answer to the needs of the  estates, as I believe that in order to obtain excellent results, the estates  have to be followed rigorously, and one has to work hard to ensure that a  wine produced is a great one ... it is somehow like raising children.

9) According to you, which is the area or region in Italy that holds promise and that could surprise us in the future?

It is difficult to guess which area might surprise us in terms of wine.  Certainly our country offers land and vineyards that are rich, and that have already reached their full potential. Based on a personal but scientific
intuition, I believe that from now onwards, the major promises and surprises will be in the hands of those who invest in research and communication.

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