The present day. Between restoration and revolution

Many of the key figures involved in the renaissance of our white wines have now passed away: Mario Schiopetto, Douglas Attems and Luigi Veronelli. But our Collio is becoming ever more beautiful. The old wounds are healing and, in contrast to what often happens with buildings, the new vines are nicer to look at than the old ones. But the growers, who have shaped and tended this territory, continue to be held under siege. It would seem that civic society is conspiring to wrest control of the vineyards once more from the hands of the farmers.
TOWN PLANNERS, after often having failed to conserve the most beautiful town and city centres in the world, have now got their claws into the fields. To set up a vineyard you now need a costly building permit under an urban planning policy which often places insurmountable obstacles in the way of anyone wishing to simply get a good job under way. The ground layout for a vineyard can no longer be done by the grower or his agronomist; now you need a surveyor, a geologist or an architect, none of whom have much idea if any about the requirements of the plants themselves.

WINE INDUSTRIALISTS, often in league with the EU and Italian bureaucrats, are pushing for the weakening of regional denominations such as the one for the Collio. They would prefer anonymous varieties to buy up cheap from ever wider catchment areas and profit at every stage of the process. Their desire is to sever the cord which binds the wine to the vine, the bond which embodies the dignity of the winemaker.

CERTAIN SECTIONS OF THE ITALIAN PRESS have worked out that the more you shake up consumers’ ideas, the more the producers themselves will have to depend on the press. So, we are witnessing the reappearance of wines of the ancien régime, those where the cellar technology – ancient or modern – obliterates the character of the vine which itself was the starting point of the emancipation of the winemakers, who while making nice profits themselves, also clear the way for those who promote the wines to charge their own fat fees.

THE “PROFESSORS” of Conegliano have moved to Udine and have become so clever at mapping the genome of the vines that they will be able to favour potential multinationals who would like to impose genetically modified clones which will be the same for everyone, and perfect for supplanting the old established vineyards and the ancient varieties.

THE BUREAUCRATS, in their offices in Brussels - and those others in Rome - have made themselves so omnipotent that now they can create with their own laws a kind of virtual reality which never existed previously, thus performing a miracle, which - like every other miracle - has as its intention to invert the laws of nature. Feeling ever more godlike, they are going all out to create a world in their own image, a world painted in tones of grey identical to the grey of the offices they work in.

WE are attempting to decipher the great “book of the Collio”, so rich in information, whose first chapter was written tens of millions of years ago in the marls and sandstones which were laid down as sediments in a shallow lagoon - which later formed these hills – and whose next chapters were written by the multitudes of people who lived and worked there in harmony with the land. The aim is to give a voice to these hillsides and to the work which has been layered into them, for the benefit of those – as compared to a “deaf and blind” restoration – who have the ears attuned to hear it. As we proceed, we have realized that unwittingly we are recreating that “shape” in the landscape which we mentioned previously. In this way innovation can draw out the unique fragrances and flavours of our Collio, creating a harmonious aesthetic of forms and even colours, from the vineyards right through to the buildings. In innovation we often rediscover threads from the past, and as we move forward, we bring out in the landscape the beauty it had in olden times, perhaps because this is the necessary way forward towards a modern idea of quality.

Brazzano, May 2007

Nicola Manferrari