Screw caps in wine bottles: for many in Italy this is still taboo. Gianluca Morino, producer from Nizza Monferrato, has been interviewed and he has a different opinion.
Seen for you by Bonella Ciacci
I discover by chance, after following him on Twitter and Facebook, that Gianluca Morino, wine producer from Castel Boglione (AT), 43 years old, with a passion for Barbera and Brachetto, is a convinced sustainers of screw caps or Stelvin, and he uses them. As I come from an area in Tuscany where great wines are made such as Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, where just pronouncing the name of this bottles closure is heresy, I get curious, and from this curiosity comes my interview for the producer from Piemonte, another land of great Italian red wines, who challenges tradition.
Gianluca Morino is president of the Associazione Produttori della Barbera d’Asti superiore Nizza. He is an impassioned innovator, he believes in the importance of all that is digital for the economic development of farming estates; he divulges values and beauty of his territory, with the help of the web he is getting wine lovers, journalists and importers from al lover the world to get to know Barbera and Nizza, In 2011 he created #barbera2; in 2013 he created the round table #digitalbarbera.
Bonella Ciacci – In the world of wine producers you are an innovator, you have changed the way wine and a winery are talked about, and even regarding the subject of corks, you seem
to be in step with times. When did you begin to use screw caps?
Gianluca Morino – I have always believed strongly that wine needs to conquer the position that is its due. And to do this thee is a need for innovation in communication to invert the route. I began using the screw cap 2 years ago for a range of three red wines called Vera, in honour of my daughter Veronica. A Dolcetto, a Merlot and a Barbera vinified in steel to exalt the fruit and drinkability that I wish to prepare for the tables of my consumers. It’s for this reason that I have chosen the screw cap, to be sure to have well safe all the work and all the investments that go into producing a wine.
It is not possible to imagine the rotation of a bottle of wine and for how long the consumer will keep it in his cellar before drinking it. In this aspect I am more than sure, because I am firmly convinced that the screw cap is perfect also for wines that must age in the bottle.
BC – Have you used the screw cap for the entire production of a vintage, or have you kept some separate and corked with a “traditional” cork?
GM – I bottled the entire production because that is what my project is, and a double storage would be impossible.
BC – Before starting with the screw caps have you tried alternative caps, or did you ask your clients and importers?
GM – I had tried synthetic corks many years ago (2002-2004) but fortunately a returned quickly to cork. It ended up being an awful experience because after an initial phase where the cork resists well, in the second phase the alcohol made the cork lose its elasticity and so the wine got oxidises rapidly.
BC – After the publication in the Gazzetta ufficiale (la n. 224 del 24 settembre 2013) of the decreto 16 settembre 2013 which modifies the UE norms regarding labelling of Dop and Igp wines (rules 1234/2007 and e 607/2009), accepting the use of modern screw caps also for quality wines. Which reactions have there been inside the Associazione Produttori della Barbera d’Asti superiore Nizza of which you are president?
GM – Inside the association we have simply specified the obligation to use cork for the Nizza wine. But there’s is no total closure toward screw caps although the Piedmont producers are mad conservatives.
BC – Have you noticed a change in the sales, after having begun to use the screw cap?
GM – The change in sales is very evident, especially abroad where these closures are more frequent.
I have even sold in Holland the Dolcetto d’Asti only because it has the screw cap, the wine is nearly always the same.
BC – I discover that I am a homeless romantic, and as a wine lover, have difficulty in leaving behind the pleasure of using the corkscrew and the ceremony in opening a great bottle of wine. Do you knot find that the screw cap take away some of the poetry?
GM – I reckon that the poetry is lost much more when a bottles is corked, or when the wine is not “quite right” (even worse defect because not easily pinpointed)).
We Italians have put too much poetry in wine, losing sight of the fact that wines are to be consumed, and especially around the world, they are “by the glass”.
BC – Do you think that there are some cases where it is right to continue using traditional corks?
GM – My opinion is that it would be right to put a screw cap even on Barolo. Where is it written that a Barolo NEEDS cork? The cork is porous toward oxygen on the outside? I have read certain theses that demonstrate that the wine evolves with the oxygen present in the cork interstices.
Why are Magnums and larger sizes always better? Other than the fact that there is “more wine” they probably do benefit from a different and slower evolution. Could it be the same for the screw cap? For the moment we are left with many questions. But around the world there are great and expensive wines with screw caps. Can these producers all be mad?
BC- Sincerely give me advantages and disadvantages (if there are some), in your opinion, for this type of cap.
GM – I see no evident disadvantages. Advantages? Well, the most important s the usability: the Good Lord gave us hand and with these we can unscrew and taste, without other appliances. The world over often drinking is connected to the action of unscrewing; why forfeit this consumer possibility? And then of course there is the security in the investment.
There is a better cohesion with the grape variety characteristics and those of the territory because there are no risks. Last advantage, the cost: 1/10 with respect to traditional cork.
BC – There is this more and more emphatic trend of bio (organic) wines, and the screw cap. Two opposite routes, or can they have meeting points, in your opinion?
GM – Bio wines and screw cap? Bio wines are simply wines. You know that I do not like certain divisions, or those who try to jump on a trend and ride it. Screw cap is perfect for certain wines, even those made with low or no SO2, because it supplies security regarding the closure and the durability.
BC – To conclude, which message would you like to give to your fellow producers, to the consortiums and to the Italian associations which gravitate around the world of wine, according to you experience?
GM – My advice is that of becoming innovators, to look outside and learn from those who are cleverer.
We must evolve and become competitive on the global market and shut ourselves in our archaic traditionally Italian lack of progress. The world out there is big and offers millions of opportunities, lets go out and see, lets battles, and lets wine back those slice of a market which were our.
Tradition with no innovation is equal to lack of progress as said by Luca Ferraro on FB during the past few days. I have a different vision of the wine world, and for this reason, together with Monica Pisciella, we created #Barbera2 and not #gianlucamorino1 or #cascinagaritina14!:-)
Recently I have read about the curious position of a great expert of our sector, Riccardo Vendrame (amicidivini.com) through and idea http://www.intravino.com/primo-piano/london-cru-se-aprire-una-urban-winery-nel-centro-di-londra-e-tradire-il-territorio/.
Some commentators from Intravino have understood little about this idea that in my opinion is simply genial. As I said on Twitter, I would like it if in every large city in the world one would talk about Barbera. Tam-Tam Barbera I said. We must insert the Tam-Tam Barbera between the ancient equilibrium Cabernet-Merlot that for too many years has dominated the world. As a Barberista I’m lucky enough to have on my side 33 thousand hectares of Barbera planted around the world.
These hectares these wines talk about us. The talk about Monferrato, as an original. Historic, and sentimental crib of this fantastic grape variety.
So great ideas such as London Cru around the world are more than welcome!