Rome - Is there a scientific method to establish wine quality? The answer is yes: based on three parameters - texture, balance and integrity - whose sum total indicates the sensory and analytical quality, the pleasantness index of each wine. These are the words of Luca Maroni, the internationally acclaimed sensory analyst who has been publishing the Yearbook of Italian Wines, a wine lover bible of sorts, for the last 24 years. He brought "the best Italian wines" to Frascati, in a unique three-day event celebrating poetry, literature, music and wine, that closed on 7 November. In an interview with AGI, Luca Maroni explained his 'pleasantness formula' in depth and compiled a ranking of the best Italian wines.
WHAT IS A SENSORY ANALYST? HOW DID YOU BECOME ONE?
I became one by tasting wine, spurred by my love and passion for wine. To be a sensory analyst means to intellectually process what is recorded by our sensory organs as they get into contact with wine, food, the world. Only after intellectually processing a scent, a flavor, a contact, I can assess the intensity, type and quality of expression.
HOW DOES YOUR METHOD WORK?
Three parameters determine wine quality: texture, balance and integrity, and their sum indicates the sensory and analytical quality, the pleasantness index of each wine. For each wine, I assess these through visual, olfactory and taste evaluation of the sample. How rich and bodied, how soft and balanced, how clean and non-oxidate is the wine's flavor-aroma? We look at the wine, we smell it and taste it evaluating its texture, balance and integrity.
HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THE PLEASANTNESS FORMULA?
I deduced it from the many tastings I have been carrying out professionally since 1987, and from the sciences involved in wine production (agronomy, oenology, physiology of taste). Wine moves the senses that the brain interprets and weighs.
HOW DO YOUNG PEOPLE APPROACH YOUR METHOD?
Very well and immediately, as it can be applied in a direct, practical and essential way. They also understand that wine quality is about the pleasantness of its taste, since they have never known defective wines: they are children of a wine era devoted to quality rather than technology.
HOW WAS IT RECEIVED IN ITALY, AND ABROAD?
Operators and foreign wine lovers were enthusiastic, since they could see first hand how the top rated wines by this method were passionately appreciated by all drinkers. Foreigners tend to love a more pragmatic, scientific approach to establishing the value of the object of their love.
CAN YOU RANK THE BEST ITALIAN WINES, NAMING THE TOP WHITES AND REDS?
Red wines: Roma Doc Edizione Limitata Poggio Le Volpi; Mater Matuta Casale del Giglio; Petit Verdot Ducato Grazioli. White wines: Roma Doc Bianco Federici; Frascati Superiore Sesto 21 Casata Merge', Donnaluce Poggio le Volpi.
ACCORDING TO YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, HOW DO ITALIANS COMMUNICATE ABOUT WINE, COMPARED TO OTHERS (THE FRENCH, FOR EXAMPLE)?
I would say very well, with passion but also good specialist knowledge. Now we need to concentrate on a national press campaign to re-establish the place of wine on Italian dinner tables, at home, everyday. We should not drink good wines only as aperitif or when dining out, wine is the perfect companion of every meal and every daily contact with nutrition. Two glasses of wine in each meal are a beneficial pleasure that we should not be missing.
WHY ARE YOUR EVENTS ALWAYS ONE OF A KIND?
Firstly, because of the quality of its selection, an effect of the assessment method. Secondly, because producers are always in attendance at my events. It has to do with this closeness between producer and public, between we, the organizers, and our enthusiastic followers. And also because of the human touch, the friendly atmosphere that we are able to put together, between them and my sister Francesca Romana.
YOUR LATEST PROJECT IS TO BRING BACK TO LIFE THE VINEYARD OF LEONARDO DA VINCI IN MILAN. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?
After eleven years, I found and was able to plant the original vineyard of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. I re-planted it with Malvasia di Candia Aromatica grapes that are identical to the original ones. Eleven years of his life, spent with Leonardo and his love of wine, now alive again at the Casa degli Atellani in Corso Magenta 65. A human and professional journey worthy of its proponent.