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Cyril Brun “curious” in his first week at Ferrari

In this exclusive interview for db, Ferrari’s new winemaker Cyril Brun reveals he is “going to be curious” and “try a lot of things” during his first Trentodoc harvest, which kicks off in mid-August.

Cyril Brun, the new head winemaker at Ferrari in Trentino, northern Italy says that while “in Champagne ‘terroir’ is all about soil [first and foremost], in Trentodoc it’s much more about the influence of the mountains and many lakes scattered across the region”.

Explaining the reasoning behind his unexpected departure from Champagne — he was one of the most experienced chef de caves of his generation and in a plum job at a revitalised Charles Heidsieck — Brun says: “Post Covid I had the idea that I wanted to do something different in another country [not at another Champagne house]. I liked the idea of working in Italy and because I already knew the Lunelli family and my expertise is in making sparkling wine, Ferrari is the only place there I really considered working.”

While looking at his options Brun spent time with Lunelli CEO and President Matteo Lunelli to get a feel for the wines and the vineyards, tasting the wines again and again.

“I was convinced by the quality they have already achieved and the potential to improve the wines still further.”

Asked what his approach will be and what changes he’s considering making Brun says: “I’m going to be curious. Climate change has altered many aspects of wine production and I’ll be looking at viticulture as well as vinification. First, I’m going to try a lot of things, but some processes I don’t need to touch.”

“Here in the mountains, you suffer less from the effects of climate change than in places like Prosecco. It’s not such an issue as it is in southern Italy [either]. The lakes and the mountains here have a huge [cooling] influence on temperatures.”

There’s also a large diurnal range in temperature, important for preserving freshness in grapes, confirms Ferrari’s viticulturalist’s Luca Cavallaro, who Brun will be working closely with.

As for the progress of the current harvest: “There was a little bit of damage because of localised hail,” says Brun. “We use netting here to protect against hail. Part of the game is that there are lots of different plots and sub-regions to play with [at different altitudes, between 200 and 700 metres, and varying proximity to bodies of water].

“We even have a small plot of Voltis [the hybrid grape variety being trialled in Champagne that is resistance to mildew] planted this year, with a first harvest expected in 2026. And although the vineyards are mainly Chardonnay (nearly 95%) we also have Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, while more Pinot Noir – which is going to interesting to work with – is being planted, especially in the cooler, higher vineyard locations.”

Ferrari needs more Pinot Noir as demand for its rosé styles in the Italian domestic market, where the large majority of the producer’s wines are sold, is growing at a rate of at least 5% year-on-year.

CEO Matteo Lunelli sees it as a major coup securing the services of Brun and further recognition of Ferrari’s status as a high-quality sparkling wine producer.

“He’s the first cellarmaster from Champagne to come here and he brings a wealth of winemaking experience and a different perspective to our Trentino mountain viticulture.”

Brun, who officially became a resident of Trentino on 1 August, expects the harvest to start around 17 or 18 August.

Asked what his family makes of the move to Italy he says his 13-year-old son was “very excited to hear he’d be working for Ferrari”. Brun’s own passion for British engineering means he’ll be driving an Aston Martin for the summer months so that his son is not too upset to find out it’s a company that makes wine, not cars.

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