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One third of Italian vines should be grubbed up: Antinori

One third of Italy’s vines should be replanted or pulled out because they are making unmarketable wines, Marchese Piero Antinori says.

Despite Italy’s success in global markets, the leading producer and former Decanter Man of the Year reckons 30% of vines are making wines unacceptable to today’s markets.

According to Antinori, the problem is particularly acute in central Italy, where there are thousands of hectares planted to Trebbiano, ‘a not very interesting grape’, and in southern Italy – particularly Sicily and Puglia – where many vineyards are producing huge yields of 250hl/ha (hectolitres per hectare).

‘For centuries, viticulture in Italy was geared to quantity rather than quality, and a large part of its plantings still reflect that old approach,’ said Antinori, who was speaking at a seminar in London organised by the Institute of Masters of Wine, in his capacity as president of the Institute of Italian Fine Wines (Premium Brands), a grouping of 17 of Italy’s fine wine producers.

‘In the past the wines were either blended and exported, largely to France, as very cheap “vin ordinaire” style wine, or used as a base for vermouth. Now vermouth doesn’t sell and these producers are having to find new markets.’

Antinori said that thousands of hectares are owned by small producers who have neither the resources nor the desire to change.

‘Transforming these thousands of inefficient acres that aren’t geared to the market is a big challenge, and more difficult than you might think. The only solution is to incentivise them to grub up the vines or replant.’

Such incentives were introduced in Italy by the EU two years ago, and should bring about big changes within the next four to five years.

Written by Amy Wislocki

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