TRACEABILITY OF BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO: ANTHOCYANIN PROFILING IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE AND RELIABLE METHOD
The foremost experts in the field meet in Montalcino to discuss and decide on the most efficacious method
The latest scientific discoveries on methods to assess the origin of Sangiovese grapes
in the bottles of Brunello wine presented this morning at a convention.
A very relevant event, given the growing importance of scientific methods capable of protecting both winemakers and consumers, in particular when choice wines are in question
Montalcino, 24th May 2013 - The most effective and reliable method to trace the origin of the wine contained in each bottle of Brunello is not DNA testing, but the so-called “anthocyanin profiling”. This is the conclusion drawn from the convention on “Traceability of Sangiovese in Montalcino: Research and Experimentation for Origin Identification” organised by the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino wine, which gathered the foremost Italian experts in the field in the capital of Brunello.
Indeed, based on the data presented, anthocyanin profiling, complemented by the stable isotope method for further territorial definition, is the assay that provides winemakers, but above all consumers, assurance about varietal integrity. This method has proven to be more trustworthy compared to DNA testing, which presently does not achieve scientifically reproducible results for a reliable and thorough control over the entire production and, above all, is not sufficient to establish the purity of a wine (i.e., if it is a wine from a single grape variety, as is the case for Brunello), but only if a given grape variety (in our case Sangiovese) is present, without excluding other varieties.
“First and foremost, we wish to thank the researchers who have contributed, with their experience and commitment, to the fulfilment of our long-standing dream: establishing a scientific method for wine traceability – commented the Chairman of the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino, Fabrizio Bindocci. We consider this to be an important result, not only for the Italian scene, but also for the international oenological sector. All the merit goes to the researchers who have worked on the projects, but we are proud to have created a “precedent” and to have contributed, albeit indirectly, to the development of a reference method”.
This is not a minor development, given the growing importance of wine traceability, above all for the wines that contribute to maintaining Italy’s excellent image on the worldwide oenological scene, and that occupy a most relevant position on the international market. Reassuring the authorities that monitor quality control, safety and traceability at the international level is an important objective. Offering them a scientific method to achieve this is a very strong and efficacious instrument in support of winemakers and the territory, and assurance of reliability and prestige. Among the guests of the convention were the Chairman of Federdoc, Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, and Oreste Gerini as representative of the National ICQRF Department (Central Inspectorate for the Protection of Quality and the Suppression of Fraud in Agri-food Products) of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.
“Ten full years have not yet passed, it was October 2003, – stated Riccardo Ricci Curbastro – since the beginning of the control plans on the wine production chain, and what we spoke about today in Montalcino seemed futuristic only a few years ago. The oenology world has been capable of tackling the crisis because it is a step ahead of other sectors. Today, in Montalcino, a new model has been identified that can be implemented also by other territories and denominations, a benchmark to be used by people who believe in safeguarding Italian excellence”.
The Consortium of Brunello preceded others in addressing the issue of traceability of the product and, in 2008, entrusted a project for studying the varietal and geographical traceability of Brunello di Montalcino to Fulvio Mattivi, coordinator of the Department of Food Quality and Nutrition at the Research and Innovation Centre of the Edmund Mach Foundation, Institute of San Michele all’Adige, also acknowledged by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies and the Department for the Suppression of Frauds.
The main line of research involved the study of the pigment fraction (anthocyanidin) in wines subjected to a long ageing period, which confirmed that the formation of pigments in wine follows a course that depends on grape variety, making it possible to trace with certainty the Sangiovese present in a given bottle. “The possibility of analysing the entire set of pigments present in Sangiovese wines – declared Mattivi – allows a better understanding of the mechanisms of transformation of the pigments during vinification and ageing, essential factors to take into consideration in order to trace the Sangiovese variety in wine”. The results of the experimentation, which involved analysing 180 samples of Brunello di Montalcino 2007 taken from bottles available on the market, and the method developed were published in 2012 in an important American journal, and presented to the US authorities, first among which the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) on occasion of a meeting held at the Italian Embassy in Washington
The other two lines of research involved the development of methods based on DNA, under the leadership of Stella Grando, in charge of genetics at the Edmund Mach Foundation, Institute of San Michele all’Adige, and on stable isotopes, headed by Federica Camin, responsible for the “Stable Isotopes and Traceability” Platform at the Research and Innovation Centre of the Edmund Mach Foundation, Institute of San Michele all’Adige.
In support of the thesis in favour of DNA, the team headed by Rita Vignani, scientific coordinator of the Serge Genomics agronomic area of the University of Siena, Department of Life Sciences, presented its research on Wine fingerprinting. “The methodology used runs parallel to the one adopted in forensic medicine - commented Rita Vignani. Ours is the first study which reports that residual DNA in wine can be used to reconstruct, to a good statistical approximation, the identity of the original grape variety by amplification of molecular markers, for both experimental and commercial wines”.
“With the aim of protecting both consumers and members, and more generally the territory – added Chairman Bindocci – the Consortium does not exclude different approaches and is obviously open to any other method that will prove to be just as reliable to characterise the product and determine its traceability. If scientifically proven, these methods indeed represent a further, important instrument to certify the excellence of Brunello”.