Above: a view from Rosazzo Abbey in the heart of Friulian wine country.
WineSurf: You work with some of the wineries that have been visited in recent day by [Italian] anti-adulteration authorities. Before we talk about the accusations, what exactly happened?
Giovanni Bigot: Someone motivated by envy pressed for the raids. Maybe because those wineries have Sauvignon [Blanc] that’s particularly interesting.
WS: It seems, in any case, that Ramon Persello is the focus of the whole affair. Do you know him?
GB: Yes, I know him.
WS: Have you worked together?
GB: Yes, we have. He’s an expert in bioclimatic design. My interaction with him was almost always related to bioclimatic design and climatology problems.
WS: Even though he works in climatology, there’s talk instead of Merlin the wizard’s magic potions.
GB: Yes, I’ve read that.
WS: In the light of this, do you think that it’s possible that Mr. X was selling substances to wineries A, B, and C to aromatize their wines?
GB: You see, I work and will continue to work with many different wineries to offer services aimed at the cultivation of Sauvignon [Blanc] but not just Sauvignon. Ultimately, the idea is to achieve different and distinct aromas from the wineries’ different vineyards. Distinct aromas that will create aromatic complexity in the final blend.
I said not just Sauvignon because at those very same wineries, different farming techniques have been created to obtain diversity and aromatic complexity. This diversity is found in the cellar and in the wines.
I couldn’t say how many analyses I’ve made of aroma precursors that correspond to those that we found in the grapes. But at the same time, what can I say? I’m the one who’s probably the most affected by the media attention. I’m the one who risks seeing his work wiped away because of these “potions.”
WS: If it’s true that “magic aromatic potions” are sold and about, how to we determine if they are in the wines? Let me be more precise: If we know that thiol Y imparts the aroma of passion fruit, how do I figure out if it comes from the work in the vineyards or through particular legitimate vinification techniques or if it comes from the little bottle that I poured into the wine?
GB: From an analytic point of view, I really couldn’t tell you precisely how it’s done. But I’d like to clarify something regarding the sensorial point of view: In wine, there isn’t just one aroma but rather a set of aromas. The aromatic character of a wine is never defined by a single aroma. That’s why you’ll never have just passion fruit but rather pineapple, pink grapefruit, and other aromas side-by-side with passion fruit, for example. The aromas by themselves can only be perceived in hydroalcoholic solutions that you find in a laboratory.
WS: From what you’ve been able to learn, what did they find in Persello’s laboratory? Hydroalcoholic solutions?
GB: I really don’t know. I only know what I read in the newspaper.
WS: I know that you were at one of the wineries when the officials arrived. What were they looking for?
GB: [They were looking for] yeasts that had been used, additives, and in general, anything that you use in vinification and aging. They looked in the warehouse where the winemaking products are stored — the normal products you find at a winery. It’s possible that they found yeasts for Sauvignon.