In the past, the vine plant was an important source of subsistence; during the most impoverished times in history, wine was a real food that nourished the peasants.
Guides to growing vines can now be found in a multiplicity of languages and in countries like Italy there isn’t a region that doesn’t have its own wine identity. The landscape of the most beautiful country in the world also bears the hallmark of this age-old cultivation. But when it comes to wine, Italy has to contend for world supremacy with France because our cousins on the other side of the Alps got there before us in terms of technique, dictating the rules and protocols for producing “quality”. How exactly? The French pioneered techniques that are still regarded as cutting-edge today, but there are certain factors that have overridingly contributed to their success:
- attention to grape quality and to wine-making techniques
- an effective commercial strategy.
Techniques we now call innovative have actually been used in Bordeaux for centuries. Take, for example, the cask. But for them, quality also lies in innovative processes in the vineyard, in reducing yields per hectare, in research, and in choosing the best land for planting a certain variety of grape. Then there is the care taken over cleaning the cellar, and micro-oxygenation techniques.
This is why France’s wine culture has influenced all the other countries that produce wine. France has developed and put into practice models of unparalleled quality. French wine-making owes its success to everything that comes out of the vineyard to the cellar, coupled with modern and sophisticated communications and advertising.
As in Italy, each grape variety has found its ideal location in a specific area of France, achieving only there the perfection sought. This is why the best Merlot is found in Bordeaux, the best Sauvignon in the Loire Valley and the best Gewürztraminer in Alsace. History has done the rest, with the French producing wine since 600 B.C.
However, it was actually the Romans who developed the potential of the vines when they arrived on French territory at the end of the 2nd century B.C., because, before being produced in France, wine was produced in Italy. Wine of excellent quality. As testified to by Pliny the Elder in his monumental Naturalis Historia. What happened next, once the two nations had levelled up, is down to Marketing, its territorial aspects and teamwork skills. Aspects that for years Italy has underestimated.
Tenuta Liliana Staff