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Subzones in wine: yes or no?

A few days ago the Rioja wine region has decided to divide the territory in subzones. So here is my reflection on the utility and problematic regarding subzones

Zoning-Barolo-Cannubi

Zoning-Barolo-Cannubi

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Advantages and problems in dividing a wine region into small portions with similar characteristics: the subzones. Journalists talk about this, the more traditional wine lovers ask for these as an instrument to preserve the “purity” of their favourite wines, but in truth there are some international wines such as  Grange, the Australian “first growth” for which, each year, grapes from different vineyards and different zones. It is legitimate to ask then if the subzones offer real advantages then, or if they complicate the work for the Italian producers already bound by a long list of rules and a lot of bureaucracy. In Montalcino, for example, many wineries use grapes coming from different zones of Montalcino and it is exactly because of these blends of slightly different characters that a particular style comes out that distinguished this brand. In 2012 Kerin O’Keefe editor and taster for Wine Enthusiast

Rioja-subzones

Rioja-zoning-subzones

launched the proposal to divide the Brunello territories into 6 zones, and initiated a great debate.

In Montalcino e cultivate 2.100 hectares of Vineyard used for the production of 9 million bottles of Brunello. The territory seems to be a small one; especially too small to be broken up, however there are those who are adamant that the subzone method is to be followed. Barolo has a surface of 1900 hectares of vineyards, for a production of about 13 million bottles per year. In this territory the division has been found in the definition of historical districts (for example Cannubi) and the analysis of the vocation of the territory that began at the end of the Nineteenth century and continued with the coordination of the Regione Piemonte, so as to form boundaries that are administrative, agronomical and agreements, in respect of previous situations, that set off ferocious conflicts. Read more…

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