Could ‘new’ Italian grape help Franciacorta fight global warming?

A ‘new’ late ripening white grape dating back to the 1500s has been added to the permitted varieties for the production of Franciacorta to help the region tackle climate change.

Silvano Brescianini believes white grape Erbamat could help Franciacorta tackle climate change

Originally from Brescia, Erbamat is a high yielding, late ripening, low alcohol, aromatically neutral variety that adds freshness to base wines without changing the character of the wine.

The variety recently joined Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco as one of four grapes permitted in the production of Franciacorta. Producers will be allowed to use up to 10% of Erbamat in all blends except Satèn, with just under 3,000 hectares of the grape are currently under vine.

The newly appointed president of the Franciacorta consortium, Silvano Brescianini, is excited about the potential of Erbamat in the region. “We think this variety could be useful in tackling climate change as it ripens over a month later than Chardonnay and Pinot and has double the acidity of Chardonnay, which will help with the ageing potential of our wines,” he said.

Franciacorta has one of the highest percentages of certified organic wines in the world

In addition to allowing for the use of Erbamat in blends, the Franciacorta consortium has made the rule for rosé production stricter, with the minimum of Pinot Nero required in the blend increasing from 25% to 35%.

Reducing the CO2 levels in the atmosphere remain top priorities for Brescianini. “Sustainability is very important to us. We’re currently undertaking studies with the university of Padua to measure how much CO2 can be kept in the vineyard soils each year.

“We want to capture the CO2 and keep it in the soil in order to protect the planet. We can’t stop global warming but we need to work to lessen the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,” he said.

“We want to prove the connection between the richness of biodiversity in the soils and grape quality, which sounds very obvious and we know it to be true, but we want to prove it with the study. We started the study in 2014 and UC Davis in California started a similar study in 2016, so it’s good to be ahead of them.

“Climate change is an issue for all wine producers and we’re taking steps to tackle it, such as keeping more leaves on the vine in hot years to prevent the grapes from getting sunburn,” he added.

Franciacorta has one of the highest percentages of certified organic vineyards in the world – nearly 70% of the region’s estate are either certified organic or in the conversion process.

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