November and December coming soon!
6 October 1989
The “Vino Novello” is born.
On this day the law regulating the production and sale of Vino Novello was published and became official.
Vino Novello could be described as the “Italian answer to Beaujolais Nouveau”. I have written about it here, years ago. As a wine category it is far far less successful than its French counterpart probably because:
1 – it lacks a denomination or famous brands pulling the style, like in Beaujolais for Nouveau wines. It is pretty vague;
2 – only 40% of the wine in the blend needs to be made by carbonic maceration (or more if a higher percentage is specified in the PGI/PDO regulations accepting this style).
Being kind of fragmented no one really cares for novello and people just go with Beaujolais, at least in Japan. This is unfortunate, because some can be very pleasant, even though I am always suspicious about their price per value ratio in export markets. It is also interesting to notice that the first novellos were made in the 1970s by famous producers like Angelo Gaja, Antinori and Nino Negri. Not bad for such a despised style of wine.
16 October 1894
August Wilhelm von Babo passes away in Weidling (Bundesland, Austria).
A minor, but interesting figure in the History of wine: August Wilhelm von Babo (let’s call him just Babo) was an enologist, son of enologists, of noble lineage. He experimented with American varieties in the second half of the 19th century and for this reason he was accused of having introduced phylloxera in Austria when the louse started to spread over the Country. The accusations were probably false, but the voice spread like the nasty bug and at some point he couldn’t even walk the streets without the protection of the gendarmerie! The farmers wanted to lynch him!
He then devoted himself to fight the disease, but he was not very successful, so he tried to convince people to switch to tomato, currants and cherry production (yeah sure, LOL). At last the solution came from France and he had a part in pushing Austrian growers to adopt rootstock grafting. Phew, that was close Babo! I hope someone makes a movie about his life.
On a more serious note he was also teacher and he perfectioned the hydrometer invented by Karl Josef Napoleon Balling, which is still used to measure sugar in the grapes.
21 October 1850
Hermann Müller is born in Tägerwilen (Thurgau, Switzerland)
Another enologist (and teacher, botanist, plant physiologist), this one much more famous than Babo, so famous that he doesn’t need much of an introduction: he was the creator of the well known Müller-Thurgau crossing, named from his surname and the name of the Swiss canton where he was born (though he did not call it as such himself).
The grape came to be the most successful man-bred crossing in the History of wine and for many years it was the most widely grown variety of Germany. Now it is second after Riesling, but some very good examples can also be found in northern Italy, especially Alto Adige.
He also published works about grape growing and winemaking, grape physiology, diseases, malolactic fermentation, wine faults, yeasts.
25 October 1954
The mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape enacts a municipal decree forbidding unidentified flying objects (UFO) to land in the commune.
Mayor Lucien Jaune had to be really preoccupied by UFOs landing in the vineyards! I suppose that interstellar engines may be detrimental to the quality of Grenache.
Some people question the authenticity of the regulation, but the decree is available for download from the town official website. In 2010 Jean-Pierre Boisson, the then mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, stated that it was probably a “marketing move” to promote the vineyards of the village, exploiting the UFO craze of the 1950s.
Today Châteauneuf-du-Pape does not really need this regulation to market itself, but it sure makes up a very good story to share before a glass.