A lucidez de Angelo GAJA


Eu tenho enorme admiração pelo Angelo GAJA, agora me espanto com sua lucidez. Recebi este artigo dele, enviado pela vinícula, onde ele destaca alguns pontos extremamente bem observados e que vale pensar:

  1. O vinho perde a função alimentar e entra no luxo.
  2. As mudanças climáticas e a vantagem da Itália.
  3. Os vinhos varietais do Novo Mundo.

Sensacional. No final ele questiona o posicionamento do vinho italiano, com enormes quantidades de vinhos vendidos a € 1,00. Bárbaro. Lúcido, brilhante. Segue abaixo o texto original que recebi “in english “…


At least three significant changes occurred in the world of wine over the last decades.

1. Loss of food function.
Wherever in its producing countries, wine concept has moved from food to luxury good, regardless of price, because it is not indispensable, neither part of basic commodities. France had always reserved a tiny niche to wine as luxury drink, and nonetheless was the most prepared country to face this transition. Whereas in Italy, the passage has been culturally more difficult to deal with for the many structures, regulations and resistances inspired by the food function. Luxury goods require different selling techniques: it is necessary to put in place appropriate, aggressive and long-lasting marketing actions rather than being satisfied with the old defeatist and losing low- price strategy. What is marketing useful for? To ensure that a good is preferred to another one, not so much for its value for money but for other values appreciated by consumers: to know the producer, to share his projects, to acknowledge his dedication to quality, to trust the denomination and the brand, popularity, novelty, rarity, history, prestige, … that in part can also be artificially constructed, but it is misleading to be wary of the word marketing; because when it is upright and proper it helps to consolidate the bond with consumers, to give more visibility to business brands, and recover added value.

2. Climate change.
It has become a topic of great relevance and remedies to counteract its effects have been widely debated. I do not appeal to the expression “a problem shared is a problem halved”, but today it is possible to observe that other countries are worse than Italy. Giacomo Tachis, the father of Italian wine consultants, used to say that “wine loves the breath of the sea”. Our country, with 8,000 kilometers of coastline, is much more favored than France and Spain; it enjoys an orography that makes it rich in water (we also sell billions of liters in bottles). The high presence of hills allows to move to higher altitudes in search for cooler climates (something that Bordeaux cannot do). Italy has a large number of late-maturing varieties that climate change penalizes less than the early ones of which France is rich. The 2017 vintage teaches, for those who want to learn, the contrast measures to adopt.

3. Varietal wines.
Several non-European countries, from potential importers of wine, equipped themselves to become producers. United States, inspired by France, started this trend. They began to plant vineyards of the Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and a few other. The example of the United States was soon followed by Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, … (China is heading towards the same route), by increasing their production with the aim first to consolidate the demand on their domestic markets and then to become also exporting countries. All of them produce wines from the few identical French varieties, those that we define with unswerving disdain “international”. These wines enjoy in extra-European markets with increasing benefits: they carry varietal names, few and easy to remember; altogether the countries of the new world contribute to the growth of the their demand; they build addiction to taste especially among new consumers; they are supported by aggressive and differentiated marketing; the cellars that produce them do not receive public support, so the selection of entrepreneurs able to be on the market is more effective. Italy, on the other hand, is in the position to be the only country to produce and build demand of wines produced from hundreds of historical varieties cultivated exclusively in our country, that give rise to more than 520 denominations. Today there are signs of anxiety caused by a more competitive foreign market.

The changes I have mentioned create difficulties and new challenges to face which open mind, observation ability, willingness to take on business risk, application of new strategies and investments are all required. Even small and middle producers (referred to business size) are aware of it, and many of them are able to meet the challenge. The support that they can offer to the success of Italian wine is often underestimated: the idea that small-to-medium producers are ball and chain for Italian wine is deeply wrong. They are often able to think differently, to explore new roads, and they do it with their own capital and at their own risk without sucking public money; if successful they will provide useful examples. Such as in the past Ferruccio Biondi Santi, Mario Incisa of Rocchetta, Edoardo Valentini, … Many are doing it now. For this reason they carry out synergic

and complementary action to that carried out by large volume producers. The small- and medium- sized producers mainly, in the decades of the sixties, seventies and eighties, with their dedication to quality, took position against the rampant commercial fraud, the scandals, the image of absolute modesty that was attributed to Italian wine on foreign markets. After that, however, the bureaucracy grew disproportionately, persisted, and the medium- and small-sized producers suffered the most, just the ones that should be supported and recovered. To foster the growth of Italian wine, it is essential to loosen the overwhelming embrace of bureaucracy and remove the many rusts accumulated over time. In order to avoid to loose the effects of the measures recently introduced by the Single Text, it is necessary to speed up the adoption of implementing decrees; however, the trade associations hind their path by defending their interests and preferring stalling to solutions that do not favor them. Medium and small producers could have to pay for it. Fifty years ago, it was decided that the wine sector should be supported with strong injections of public money: to protect the wine’s food function and to steal wine growers from the clutches of traders who dominated the grape market. The achieved changes have been profound.

Assistanceism at all costs is no longer a requirement as it was in the past, it creates distortions in the market and feeds political interference. For this reason the principle of transparency needs to be appealed. What is the annual public support for the Italian vineyard sector? What sectors and in what measures is it assigned? Which cellars will use concentrated must or grape sugar in 2017 vintage? In a time when everywhere in Italy the correction of musts is not necessary. We should learn to be outraged in 2018 when we will find out that wineries will wholesale, or sell to bottlers, Italian vintage wine volumes of 2017 for less than one euro per liter, when the national production decline could exceed 30% (did their vineyards stand under another sky?). What interest does Italy have to compete for the primacy of the annual wine production amount, encouraged as well by good quality, and then learn that the export is sold at a price per liter that is one of the lowest in the world?

Angelo Gaja September 2017