Saturday, May 5, 2018

Still waiting for the Etna Contrada maps

Etna producers and the Consorzio continue to stress the importance of Contrada as a differentiating factor for its wines (much as cru is for the wines of Burgundy). And I continue to be frustrated by the lack of definitive data to allow fact-based comparisons and analysis of the wines of the region.

At the close of the 2017 Contrada dell'Etna, I was under the impression that Alessandro Masnaghetti, the famed Piemontese Cartographer, would be contracted to produce Etna maps akin to his Barolo MGA maps. I saw Masnaghetti earlier this year at Galloni's La Festa del Barolo and asked him how things were coming along on the project. He indicated that discussions had begun but he had not been contracted for the effort.

The producers in the 2018 Contrada were sectioned by Commune (as was the case last year). The identifying mortar board also had a listing of the Contrade included in the Commune (see below for an example).

A map (pictured below) was handed out late in the morning of Contrada dell'Etna.

I had a number of issues with the map:
  • It only captures the northern slope of the mountain
  • It does not clearly delimit the Communes
  • It is not clear which Contradas are associated with which Communes
  • It is not clear where the boundaries fall between the various Contradas
  • I am not sure that there is a one-to-one correlation between the Contradas listed on the map and the Contradas listed on the mortar boards
  • The map does not draw as heavily as it could have from the Geological Map of Etna.
The topmost category for the map is the Commune and that is a practice that Etna producers should adhere to. For the north slope, currently, the Commune is used as the highest level but in the southeast, the classification is geographic -- Southeast. I recommend that the relevant Communes -- Milo, for example, be used instead to ensure consistency of presentation.

In discussing this issue with Massimiliano Calabretta (Calabretta Winery), he said that the real problem is that the Consorzio is awaiting the boundary lines from the Communes. "This is Italy," he says. "They wrote the boundaries rather than drawing them on a map."

When all is said and done, I think that the Consorzio has to provide the following types of data in order to allow quality comparative analyses:
  • Delimited Contradas by Commune (with explanation if a Contrada spans multiple Communes)
  • Size (ha) of each Contrada
  • Exposition of each Contrada
  • Elevation range of each Contrada
  • Soil types for each Contrada
  • Variety percentage by Contrada
  • Producers sourcing fruit from each Contrada
  • Cru bottlings for each Contrada
  • Eventually, drawings showing ownership of each vineyard in a Contrada

This is by no means a comprehensive list but I would be happy to work with such a dataset.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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