A guide to interpreting the data you can now access from a Brunello DOCG strip #wine #brunello

by Laura Gray on December 23, 2009

The Consorzio have just sent out a press release for the new traceability procedure via text messsage. Instructions for how to do this are in my last post, entitled Fun for Pedants.

If you insert AAI 00930113 0.75 this is what you get by return text from the Consorzio del Brunello:

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Annata 2004 in bottiglia da 0.75 l. di Il Palazzone SRL. Partita di 8633 bott. per Hl 64.748 certificata da CCIAA di Siena n.15347 del 25.07.08. Titolo alcolometrico 13.91; Estratto secco netto, 31. Acidità totale 5,27.

So here we go; annata means vintage. The “partita” refers to the production authorised (in our case, our total production). The CCIAA is the Camera di Commercio di Siena (the Chamber of Commerce) and the number 15347 is the identification the approval and authorisation of our Brunello. This certification is the result of a lab analysis of the wine, an organoleptic panel testing and the correspondence between our vineyards and our authorised production.

Apart from checking for fraud, the technical data that are provided actually give a key to assessing the wine’s balance and are details not normally available to the consumer. I hope they won’t be misinterpreted.

A harmonious well-made wine will show equilibrium between hard and soft elements; the potential harshness of alcohol and acidity will be balanced by the smoothness of residual sugars and dry extract. If none of these characteristics are dominant then a wine is well balanced (and therefore pleasant to drink…).

Titolo alcolometrico
The alcohol level of a wine is the natural result of the fermentation process, the sugars in the grapes are metabolised into alcohol. Alcohol in wine is measured in percentage as opposed to proof. I should probably admit that I get really impatient with people who veer away from high alcohol wines on principle, as if the alcohol on the label is an indication of “strength”. Alcohol effects the taste, texture and structure of a wine. If there is enough of everything else i.e. if the wine is balanced as above, then the alcohol level may not be evident to the person drinking (so no flushed cheeks, though this doesn’t mean you are OK to drive). A certain level of alcohol is necessary to sustain a serious wine with a long cellar life ahead of it. This is definitely the case with our 2004. Alcohol is the backbone for a wine; it is a powerful preservative and allows the wine to age. A Brunello must have at least 12.5% alcohol. There is a 0.5% tolerance permitted so Brunellos generally show 13.5% alcohol on the label.

Estratto secco netto
Dry extract is the solid substance left after water and alcohol are removed from a wine. High levels of dry extract reflect a wine with a higher body. The amount of flavour that a wine has can be directly attributed to the dry extract. Brunellos must have a net dry extract of at least 24 gr. per litre.

Acidità totale
Acidity gives wines focus and freshness. Acidity is a naturally occurring component in grapes. Wines with too little acidity can be dull and lifeless. Brunellos must have a minimum total acidity of 5 gr. per litre.

Happy extrapolating!

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