Verona, April 1st, 2023
Wine Power List is a ranking of the online magazine Cronache di Gusto dedicated to the 100 most influential personalities of the Italian wine sector. Here you will find the 2023 edition that usually is published the day before the start of Vinitaly. Since 2014, the editorial staff of Cronache di Gusto has been publishing this top 100 with institutional representatives, politicians, senior bureaucrats of the Ministry of Agriculture, presidents of consortia, producers, journalists, the heads of organizations and associations that represent the wine sector and many others. In each profile, the small arrows indicate the position in the 2022 ranking and the new entries are also indicated, around 30 names. On this web site you will also find the link to consult the Wine Power Lists of previous editions. Also this year the Top of the Top category is included for four characters (one more compared to last year) who go off the charts and play a role of absolute prestige: four profiles who have occupied the first place in the previous editions of our ranking. The Wine Power List this year was edited by Fabrizio Carrera, Andrea Gori, Emanuele Scarci and Giorgio Vaiana.
One of the cornerstones of Italian wine in the world turns 85 this year in July, an emblem of entrepreneurship and foresight in the bet on the quality of Italian wine. Heir to a dynasty of warriors and then vintners for centuries, Piero is however the first who senses the change of era and who decides to make the idea of Tuscan wine as an “on going quality” (his definition) of the 60s go down and to give birth to modern viticulture in Tuscany. Everything passes through the Tignanello vineyard which has always been considered special but never fully exploited until the approach in the field and in the cellar changes radically as told in his books ” Il profumo del Chianti [The scent of Chianti]” and ” Tignanello una storia toscana [Tignanello a Tuscan story]”. A few months ago the umpteenth cellar, the, Pian delle Vigne in Montalcino, was inaugurated. Conceived by the Marquis who personally made a sketch from which the project for two buildings started (one dedicated to fermentation and one for the refining of wine) destined to lead the way in terms of thermal insulation: it is perhaps the first cellar designed for the new climate and to counteract the effects of global warming. Before Montalcino there was the “cathedral” of San Casciano, able to shift the focus of communication and events to the gates of Chianti Classico. However, Antinori has always taken care more of the vineyard than buildings and structures. He has indeed the largest private Italian collection and has added the gem of Jermann in Friuli for a more decisive investment in whites, wines destined to increasingly characterize the production Antinori as evidenced by the release of Nibbio, an extraordinary version of Chardonnay, cru of Castello della Sala where Cervaro had already succeeded in the enterprise of becoming a white icon of Italian taste almost on a par with Tignanello. Used to crises and rebirths, Piero proved to be a beacon and a fixed point through the family trust to which he entrusted the fate of the cellar.
For the world (and also Italian) president of oenologists, the rhythm of the days is always frenetic. Thanks to a boundless passion for what he does, his work does not weigh him down. And here it is, for example, a few weeks ago in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. He was called by the institutions of this country to study the vines with names, for us difficult to pronounce, such as Rkatsiteli, Tsitska or the better known Saperavi. And above all to give technological support through experimentation to make wines that are even better and perhaps less sharp. A prestigious assignment that he welcomed with great favour. On the other hand Georgia is the cradle of wine and how to give up then? While he is already at work preparing the Pope’s first harvest. Yes, he, Francesco, who has a Cabernet Franc vineyard in Castelgandolfo. The Vatican wants a representative wine. How can someone tell him no? His capacity for relationships at all levels is intact. In recent months he has acquired new oenological consultancy from Tuscany to Etna passing through Sweden, finding himself in the right place at the right time. Vinitaly will give him the International Prize for Italy this year. He is also working tirelessly to defend wine from health related attacks. He says of some virologist looking for limelight that they went straight in with non sense conclusions, just to capture media attention. It is clear that Cotarella’s complaint is strongly directed at the attitude of some European countries. Someone wants to forget that Italy remains a nation with a high percentage of centenarians who consume wine daily. Cotarella reiterates this concept in all ways. The real fear, however, is another pne. By now the whole world has discovered how to make good wines. Even in Sweden. Therefore the only way we can defend ourselves is, belly to the ground, to enhance the biodiversity and identity of Italian wine. This is his new goal.
In a world where everything and more can now be said, Angelo Gaja has decided to say less. Much less. Thus, by overturning communication, Gaja is always there to trace the furrow. With the step ahead of everything and of everyone. Now the novelty of him is to let people know less. Always to communicate, but little. To give more weight to the quality of information about what he does, and not to the quantity. To be silent is his new mantra. If he says so, we need to start thinking about it. On the other hand, those who know him are well aware that apart from a few encounters in the Langhe, you don’t see him much around. Once, with a certain periodicity, he sent his reflections on the world of wine and its surroundings to some sector magazines. Or he traveled around Italy and abroad to give his always very popular talks in conferences. Not even that now, although he, 83 years old, still has many things to say. But he decided to sip them. To be precise, last October he was in New York at the Wine Spectator event dedicated to the best producers in the world with his banquet to serve wine to Americans. One of those events that brings together 6,000/7,000 wine lovers in two days and it is hard to say no to. For the rest nothing. Maybe too much confusion. Too many words around. Too much communication. To insert the muffler, exactly, is a minimalist strategy that is not born today. Because Angelo Gaja has not been to Vinitaly for about twenty years, for example. It was no longer necessary. If he looks at the Langhe, he feels a certain nervousness towards those who, from outside, decide to invest a lot of money in wine. Basically we are not faced with a colonization also because in Barbaresco and its surroundings there is almost nothing compared to what happened in Tuscany. In any case for him it is an irreversible process in those terroirs where great wines are born. Does the healthy wave worry him? He believes that by now everyone must become more and more his own doctor. Therefore, moderation, drinking with common sense and sometimes even overdoing are possible because life must also be enjoyed. Lots of ideas for the future of his brand, no ads. In the coming months, his cellar on Etna will start, the Idda winery in joint venture with Alberto Graci Aiello.
Today, to understand what the future of wine will be like, one cannot fail to consult him. He doesn’t own the crystal ball but he has the weapons of knowledge in his hands. Nobody is like him. Formerly a university professor in Milan and the scientific consultant of several institutions, president of the National Wine Committee, author of dozens of books and hundreds of research papers. A powerful wine character? Yes, but not in the political meaning of the term. Point of contention, listened to, courted, sometimes not shared, Attilio Scienza is still the undisputed protagonist of the wisdom applied to viticulture. His studies, today more than ever, are aimed at understanding how climate change will change the way wine is made. Without any illusions, cultivation places and methods are destined to change. It is better to think about it now. The drought already makes feel the bites. It is heartening to know that the creation of new rootstocks allows the vine to better resist water shortages. Rauscedo has already sold three and a half million vine cuttings with this new system. It is not enough. We have to prepare for something else. To increase the distances between the rows, cultivate at higher altitudes, protect the bunches more and more from the sun’s rays with the help of the leaves. His forecasts are not very rosy if a process that includes knowledge and technology does not start. His idea of genome editing, something different from GMOs, is still stuck in the EU but could be unlocked. Vineyards resistant to disease and excessive heat could solve many problems, but it takes at least twenty years of study to put the new technologies into practice. Meanwhile, Scienza is now a permanent testimonial of Vinitaly Academy International, Stevie Kim’s creature dedicated to foreigners who want to know everything about Italian wine. In the days of Vinitaly he dedicates four conferences to these students. From climate change, precisely, to the migrations of grape varieties that are so reminiscent of those of people from the south to the north of the world. Up to the suggestive one he dedicated to the interconnections between myth and DNA. For Science, by studying Ulysses and Antenor you can understand the evolution of the vine. Fantastic, isn’t it?
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty leaps to first place in our ranking. A new entry that for us represents the return of a certain primacy in politics. Lollobrigida’s mission in recent months is to build a wall against everything that can pose a danger to Made in Italy and our culture of wine and food, be they Irish labels rather than synthetic meat or Nutriscore. Lollobrigida has repeatedly stressed that Italy, with its extraordinary wealth of products, biodiversity, traditions and above all quality, must be at the forefront in affirming that food is also identity, culture, respect of the world of work. However, beyond the announcements, last December the minister rejoiced for having persuaded the EU Commission to eliminate meat and wine from the list of foods deemed harmful to health, but sixty days later he was forced to acknowledge that in Brussels the concept of wine that is the enemy of health and the cancer plan had gone out the front door to allow it to sneak in the back. The health alerts had slipped by. “Some nations, in particular Ireland – he said, perhaps holding back his anger , are attempting to stigmatize certain products, especially wine, and we consider that totally irresponsible. We will activate all forms of resistance towards a provision that divides Europe. We are going to send the letter from Minister Tajani denouncing the violation of the treaties on European trade to the colleagues who have signed a joint document, Spain and France and 6 other nations”. Lollobrigida also maintained the same inflexible approach in Italy. He returned to the sender the requests of Lazio and Puglia to activate crisis distillation which is “a tool of last resort, to be used when stocks register significant increases”. Ministerial monitoring established that stocks are slightly up compared to the previous campaign, but in line with the previous ones.
The agricultural world is coming out of a phase in defense of the problems generated by the boom in energy prices and production costs. But Coldiretti’s hyperactivism has never failed. President Prandini passes, with ease, from a 3 day stay in Cosenza in the Coldiretti Village to the meeting at Palazzo Chigi convened by the government on the draft enabling law to reform the tax system up to the search for an agreement with the major European agricultural organizations to stop the EU directive that impairs farms by equating herds to factories. And so on. Prandini’s powerful organizational machine (he is also a Lugana wine entrepreneur besides being a farmer) continues to have great influence on the decisions of Minister Lollobrigida, as he had previously with Patuanelli, Bellanova and Centinaio. Prandini has clear ideas about wine: “We have built a culture of quality, of responsible drinking. We are the world’s leading producer and second behind France in terms of export value. Defending the wine sector means defending the Italian economy and culture. Ireland does not produce wine, but hosts, thanks to its tax regime that dumps the rest of Europe, the multinationals of drinking that are spending billions in communication and want to erode market shares. For them it is convenient to promote drinks that reproduce the aromas of wine with chemistry and it is essential to remove a competitor like Italy from the market”.
The coordinator of the wine sector of the Alleanza agro food cooperatives has just been reconfirmed for the next two years to lead the wine working group of Copa Cogeca, the main European agri food organization. It should be remembered that the Alleanza agro food cooperatives associates 400 cooperative wineries that produce 58% of Italian wine. On the issue of Europe on wine, Rigotti said: “Sometimes the orientations of Europe put an important sector of the economy in difficulty. We will shortly be discussing on the relationship between wine and health, the reform of packaging and the sustainable use of pesticides”. Rigotti spends all his energy to bring home favorable results on all very strategic and burning dossiers on which the future of the wine system is at stake. On the internal front, on the occasion of wine2wine, the Italian wine union had pointed the finger at the excess of derogations from the yields of common wines that the Consolidated Law sets at 300 quintals/hectare, with derogations at 400. Apparently hesitant on stage, then Rigotti appeared decisive on the sidelines of the event: “It’s easy to say fewer grapes, let’s uproot. A precise agreement has been made on the limitation of production, with the exception of suitable areas. It works, let’s not hurt ourselves ”. Rigotti is also the president of the wine giant Mezzacorona that once again this year shows significant results in terms of turnover and growth.
Paolo De Castro