by Giulio Saturnini
An ancient bond but future-oriented
Before steel there was wood. Before wood, there was terracotta. That of vinification in a terracotta amphora is a tradition as old as the wine itself which is nowadays brought to life again under new shapes thanks to the passion and experience of the producers of our land.
The bond with terracotta has its roots in the Roman-Greek period when this material was used as much for preserving as for the transport and trading of wine. Its thermic-isolation ability and its porosity makes it possible for the terracotta to let just enough oxygen transpire to guarantee an excellent process of the maturing of red wines.
The clay of Impruneta, for its own peculiar physical and chemical features, has shown to be especially suitable for use in the wine sector. Always used to make huge containers and the most various decorations, this material has been historically used all over Tuscany to keep olive oil in. Then, thanks to an intuition by Fornace Artenova of Impruneta and to the will to experiment of various wine estates in the area, terracotta became established even in this field which had been abandoned for centuries.
The earthenware jars produced by Artenova have set the standard in the sector and have been adopted by various producers in the area, first, and all over the world, later, and more recently used to also preserve beer.
If on the one hand, the bond between terracotta and wine is connected to a history and a natural itinerary based on the extraordinary capacity of this material, it must be pointed out that its relaunching is also the result of vast research work and technological innovations. The companies which produce “cotto” that have known how to renew themselves and update this ancient tradition are also those who, better than the others, have been able to react to the terrible crises that hit this sector, especially in the Florentine area.
One of the first to believe in this project, Fornace Artenova has been celebrating this lucky binomial in the two-yearly event “La terracotta e il vino” (Terracotta and wine), the largest one on a global scale dedicated to this theme. The third edition took place last 24th-25th November at Antica Fornace Agresti of Impruneta. The main objective of “La Terracotta e il vino” is the spreading of awareness of this method of wine-making, through guided tastings of wine refined in terracotta jars and encounters between Italian and foreign producers, experts and academics. The future of a sustainable agriculture passes even through this renewed tradition.