Luigi Veronelli ‘s team was a pivotal element in Italy’s new embrace of barrique fermentation and barrique aging. In other words, the winemakers who accompanied him on that trip became a model for other winemakers
In my last post, we began discussing the Stainless Steel Revolution that began to reshape Barbera and its fortunes in the 1980s. We looked at Luigi Veronelli’s now famous trip to California with three prominent Italian winemakers, including one from Barbera d’Asti.
As we noted, team Luigi Veronelli was a pivotal element in Italy’s new embrace of barrique fermentation and barrique aging. In other words, the winemakers who accompanied him on that trip became a model for other winemakers when they began making their wines using small new French oak casks as opposed to concrete tanks or large, repeatedly used, Slavonian and Italian oak casks (some winemakers used other kinds of wood in Italy at that time as well, like cherry wood, for example).
But as much as Luigi Veronelli and three winemaker friends were impressed by the Californians’ use of barrique for making and aging wines, they were equally inspired by the Americans’ use of temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. It’s almost impossible to imagine now, but until the 1980s, cement and wood were still the preferred vessels for winemakers in Italy. And what’s more is that practically no one was using stainless steel back then.
Even at 51 years old, I’m still too young to remember those days (also because I didn’t work in wine in those days; I was studying Italian poetry!). But when you talk to the older grape growers and winemakers, they all remember well: Before the second half of the 1980s, you’d be hard pressed (excuse the pun) to find stainless steel in the cellars of even some of the most iconic wineries of the era.
Today, people talk about how barrique radically reshaped the Barbera landscape. But with barrique also came stainless steel. And most importantly, with Luigi Veronelli’s team also came temperature-controlled fermentation.
And that will be subject of our next post… Stay tuned!