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Interview with Stefano Chioccioli and Niccolò Chioccioli – from the famous award winning Italian wine family
- Friday, 30 August 2013 16:40 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
Biography Stefano Chioccioli:
Stefano Chioccioli, an authoritative oenologist and agronomist of international renown, has worked with the most prestigious companies for more than 25 years. His wines have been awarded numerous prizes and recognitions, including more than 70 "Tre Bicchieri" (Three glasses, the maximum rating) in the Gambero Rosso guide to wines, and countless point scores of 92+ in magazines about wine such as Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate and Decanter, finally arriving at being given 100/100 by both Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. He is a member of numerous organisations dedicated to vine-growing and oenology, and serves on various tasting commissions. For some years now he has provided consultation to Altadonna, for which, together with his son Niccolò, he created the well-known Collezione of single varietal wines and the prestigious DOCG line.
Biography Niccolò Chioccioli:
Niccolò, the second generation of oenologists in the Chioccioli family, carries the family's passion for great oenology forward. With a degree from the same university as his father, he also inherited his knowledge and sensitivity. "It was my father who stimulated my curiosity and encouraged me to taste and distinguish between the multitude of aromas and perfumes of Italian grapes, to recognize the qualities and defects of each wine. He taught me the necessary elements for understanding and making a great wine... structure, character, a precise identity, balance and elegance". Niccolò Chioccioli, today at the helm of Altadonna, manages all the activities of the Tuscan office, and personally oversees the winemaking productions in other locations, from the growing of the vines to the bottling.
Interview with Stefano:
1.Tesi: Your background is impressive – it’s a summary of enormous achievements in the world of Italian wine. Can you describe what wine means to you and the place it has in your life?
Stefano: I began studying oenology in 1985, which started my deep appreciation of what wine can be. A good wine is the result of many aspects. The region – Tuscany, in my case – plays a vital part. Bringing the culture, the knowledge base that exists in Tuscany, and our love and passion for wine into a bottle are how my region uniquely contributes to producing world-class wines that can’t be copied.
To produce such a wine you need to understand the land on which you stand, you need to be able to read the soil, you need to understand the climate, and you need to understand how the grapes react to the combination of these factors. Italy spans many different regions, altitudes, and climate zones. No region is like another and every region is unique in its own way.
It is not enough to study oenology to work with these amazing conditions we have in Tuscany. To produce a good wine you truly have to put a lot of “heart-blood,” talent, and love into your profession so that the wines you create truly reflect the culture of Tuscany. My answer to your question then (I guess you already know it): Wine plays an enormous role in my life. I can no longer imagine my life without it.
2.Tesi: Some people say it is necessary to absorb all wine-related information and enjoy wine from a very early stage in life to become a wine connoisseur. Other people say everybody who knows the wine he likes is already a wine expert. Which statement would you support?
Stefano: I definitely support the first theory! You simply need time to understand wine. A good wine is one of the most complex products in the world. You should never just “like” a wine. You should understand what is behind a good wine – the culture and region from which it comes. You need to taste a lot of wines to begin to understand the nuances of each wine. If you want to answer the question, “What does a good wine mean to you?” then you need to answer the question, “What does a good wine mean for your life?” If you merely feel a taste then you might never be able to answer this question, but if you feel the culture and the love of the people who have produced the wine then you are on a path to understanding wine as a product. Surely you will need time, money, and appreciation on this path, but anyone willing to give these things to understand wine has started an amazing journey.
3.Tesi: Please complete this sentence: Italian wine is...
Stefano: Incredibly complex. Every wine represents its own complex personality and character ranging from volcanic and sulphate-influenced characters to wine full of sun and fruitiness. No matter the region, Italian wine is the result of our respect and love for our country and culture.
4.Tesi: Stefano what does good food mean to you?
Stefano: Good food needs to be natural, organic, fresh, and simple. I don’t believe in complex dishes. The more fresh and authentic the food, the better I can enjoy the honesty of the dish and pair it with a good wine.
Interview with Niccolò:
5.Tesi: The family’s treasure and tradition is now in your hands to carry it through the next decades. The wine market is changing, for example, Chinese wine producers are trying to get more shares of the upmarket wine segments by building châteaus and transferring knowledge from old European wine regions. What is your forecast for the Italian wine industry for the next five years?
Niccolò: In the last ten years, many new countries became wine-producing countries. China is just one of many examples. We have recognised the trend for new countries to try to transfer and build their knowledge base on how to produce good wine, and they have made great strides.
However, wine is more than just a product. It is more than just an alcoholic fluid in a bottle.
One thing the new wine-producing countries will not be able to generate or to transfer is the value of wine that comes from a specific territory and a specific culture. A product becomes a luxurious way to enjoy life through the story and the culture that stands behind the product. We in Italy, as well as in Spain and France, have a wine culture we truly can be proud of. Italian wine comes with a story of centuries-old wine-producing history that simply cannot be copied.
To answer your question: The future of the Italian wine industry is bright, and we will stand our ground because we will communicate the culture and the value behind our products, which makes our wines unique in the world.
6.Tesi: Italy, Spain, and France are the three “Wine Super Powers.” Outside of these three countries, which wine region would you say is underrated or undiscovered?
Niccolò: Everybody who wants to be pleasantly surprised at what countries have to offer in terms of good wine should turn his eyes to Croatia and Slovenia. These two countries have amazing conditions to produce good wine, and they have really begun to develop their wine industry in the last few years. Turkey also holds a couple of wine treasures that are waiting to be discovered.
7.Tesi: Young chefs who are creating their first menus face the challenge of pairing reasonably priced wines that still afford the guest the opportunity to enjoy the dinner as a culinary highlight. There is an enormous variety of wine, and well-known wines are sometimes very expensive. What would be your advice to a young and inexperienced chef who is just beginning to pair food and wine?
Niccolò: That is a very good question! As Stefano said, it takes time and investment to become experienced in the art of food and wine pairing. A young chef has learned to understand the ingredients he is using to prepare his dishes. He has learned to understand how to work with different combinations of tastes and flavours. My advice would be to do the same with wine.
It’s a long journey to understand wine, so he needs to get started; otherwise, he’ll make the mistake of matching a wine anybody could buy from the supermarket. A good start is simply thinking about the experience he’s trying to create with his menu. When he is clear about that then he can start researching the right wine. To start with a fresh and fruity wine though is highly recommended!
8.Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Niccolò: I’m a big believer in the theory that you are what you eat! You should think about the food you put in your body. It’s extremely important to listen to yourself and ask if you feel good that you eat what you eat. Your body tells you what is good, but many people have forgotten to listen. Finally, I believe that good food needs to be matched with the right wine to become very good food.
Thank you very much for the interview!
More information: http://www.altadonna.it/
Awards – Stefano Chioccioli
ROBERT PARKER-THE WINE ADVOCATE 2001-2009
100 Redigaffi - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2000
99 Redigaffi - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 1999
97 Giusto di Notri - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2001
97 Sirah - Tua Rita 2006
97 Redigaffi - Tua Rita 2006
96 Giusto di Notri - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 1999
96 Redigaffi - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2001
96 Giusto di Notri - Tua Rita 2006
95 Giusto di Notri - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2000
95 Cortaccio - Villa Cafaggio 2001
95 Syrah - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2004
94 Carmione - Az. Agr. Pratesi 2001
94 Sagrantino di Montefalco - Az. Agr. Scacciadiavoli 2001
94 Redigaffi - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2002
94 Pecchia - Gagliole 2006 94
93 Picolit Riserva - Az. Agr. Livio Felluga 1999
93 Dulcamara - Az. Agr. I Giusti e Zanza 2001
93 Redigaffi - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2004
93 Syrah - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2003
93 Giusto di Notri - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2004
93 Garrone - Az. Agr. Odoardi 2004
93 Cortaccio - Basilica Cafaggio 2004
93 Camalaione – Le Cinciole 2006
93 Chianti Classico Ris. Petresco – Le Cinciole 2006
93 Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito - Az. Agr. Scacciadiavoli 2005
93 Perlato del Bosco - Tua Rita 2006
92 Carmignano - Az. Agr. Pratesi 1999
92 Livernano - Az. Agr. Livernano 2001
92 Perlato del Bosco Rosso - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2001
92 Sossò - Az. Agr. Livio Felluga 2000
92 Brunello di Montalcino - Tenuta S. Filippo – Fanti 1999
92 Terricci - Az. Agr. Lanciola 2001
92 Giusto di Notri - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2002
92 Ghiaie della Furba - Tenuta di Capezzana 2001
92 San Martino - Villa Cafaggio 2001
92 Merlo Rosso - Fattoria Villa La Selva 2001
92 Garrone - Az. Agr. Odoardi 2003
92 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Casi - Castello di Meleto 2004
92 Vin Santo di Carmignano - Tenuta di Capezzana 2002
92 Camalaione - Podere Le Cinciole 2004
92 Pecchia - Az. Agr. Gagliole 2004
92 Rainero Castello di Meleto - Castello di Meleto 2004
92 Giusto di Notri - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2005
92 Redigaffi - Az. Agr. Tua Rita 2005
92 San Martino - Basilica Cafaggio 2004
92 Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito - Az. Agr. Scacciadiavoli 2004
92 Rosso - Gagliole 2006
THE WINE ENTHUSIAST 2007-2009
95 Picolit Livio Felluga 2004
93 Carmione Az. Agr. Pratesi 2005 (n.58 nella TOP100 del 2008)
92 Brunello di Montalcino Fanti 2004
92 Terre Alte Livio Felluga 2006
91 Riserva Vin Santo Tenuta di Capezzana 2002
90 Vigna Casi Riserva Castello di Meleto 2005