Varietal and geographic traceability

FREGONI-2007-BorgonovoThe theme of traceability has been of interest for some time in the food and drink industry, but the wine industry was the first to adopt solutions of this nature and is still on the leading edge in the field of research into traceability innovations.
Scientifically speaking, it has to do with finding the chemical compounds that can identify the variety or varieties that constitute the wine and/or the area of production or origin. The possibilities for investigation are numerous and varied and are concentrated, for example, on substances like hydroxycinnamic acids, polyphenols (in terms of content and ratio between the different fractions), several aromatic molecules, DNA (genome analysis), some trace elements, stable isotopes etc.
There are similarities with the research into lanthanides, or rare earth groups, Caesium-137, Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/ 86Sr) and so forth, which are all examples of chemical indicators that can be correlated with different terroir.
Many years ago we were asked, along with other colleagues, to find a genetic (DNA), metabolomic or chemical indicator that could unmistakably differentiate the white truffle of Alba (Piemonte) from those originating from different areas such as Istria, and which are sometimes passed off as truffles from Alba. The only distinguishing characteristic that was able to be identified, unfortunately not with any stability, was the silver content. For this reason we gave up on presenting any type of legislative proposal.
In the oenological industry, we have also been searching for centuries for answers to confirm varietal and geographic traceability but without success so far. Unfortunately, due to this lack, there are still scams taking place that damage the unknowing consumer, to the detriment of the honest producers.
Is there a solution? Among the routes that can be taken, the one currently with the highest probability of success is as ancient as wine itself. This is the path of protected designation of origin which, when adhered to, controls (and guarantees) the geographic area bearing the name (whether large or small in size, like cru or vineyard name), the variety or varieties allowed, the vine growing conditions, processes in the winery and the minimum chemical and sensorial qualitative analytic parameters.
The designation of origin is the only institution, recognized at a European level, that is able to certify the traceability and guarantee the protection of the wine, able to be registered as a geographic brand in countries where legislation regarding denomination of origin doesn’t exist.
Nevertheless, what remains fundamental in the end is the rigorous and honest application of the disciplines of production. Without this, it’s better to go back to being regulation-free or just acting with responsibility like they did in the past: on Egyptian and Roman wine amphorae the name of the winemaker, year and production location were inscribed.
A private mini-designation of origin.

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