Ticino (wine region)

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Ticino
Wine region
Meride-Vineyards1.jpg
Official nameTicino
TypeDOC (AOC)
Year establishedin the Roman era
Years of wine industryVITI: since 1948; DOC: since 1997;
Part of Swiss wines
Precipitation (annual average)1500–2200 mm
Size of planted vineyards1,040 ha
No. of vineyards3,869
Grapes produced6'816'620 Kg
Varietals produced Merlot (and Bondola)
No. of wineries264
Official designation(s)DOC, VITI
CommentsAll data as of 2005

The wine region of Ticino started producing wine in the Roman era, but only after 1906, with the introduction of Merlot, did it begin to produce quality wine.

Merlot dark blue-colored variety of wine-making grape

Merlot is a dark blue-colored wine grape variety, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird, probably a reference to the color of the grape. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Contents

Geographically the wine region is located in the south of Switzerland, and includes the canton Ticino and the neighbouring district of Moesa (Misox and Calanca valleys) in the canton of the Grisons, both areas being Italian-speaking.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi), and land area of 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.

Calanca Place in Graubünden, Switzerland

Calanca is a municipality in the Moesa Region in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. On 1 January 2015 the former municipalities of Arvigo, Braggio, Cauco and Selma merged to form the new municipality of Calanca.

Grisons Canton of Switzerland

{{Infobox settlement | name = Grisons

The terroir varies from acid soil in the northern part to limestone in the southern part.

<i>Terroir</i> environmental factors that affect a crops phenotype

Terroir is the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop's phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop's specific growth habitat. Collectively, these contextual characteristics are said to have a character; terroir also refers to this character.

The top quality wines of the region have the appellation del Ticino DOC or ticinese DOC, sometimes linked with a VITI label, and the wines in the medium category use della Svizzera Italiana or nostrano.

An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well. Restrictions other than geographical boundaries, such as what grapes may be grown, maximum grape yields, alcohol level, and other quality factors, may also apply before an appellation name may legally appear on a wine bottle label. The rules that govern appellations are dependent on the country in which the wine was produced.

History

Until 1906

The first traces of grapes in Ticino are some pollens in sediments, starting from the neolithic. Notable diffusion of grapes by humans probably dates from the late Bronze Age to the entire Iron Age, and the grapes were probably located near the lakes. [1] At the beginning of the Roman era there was already substantial cultivation of grapes, and production of wine probably started in this period, as shown in a sculpture on a Roman tomb found in Stabio.

Grape spherical berry from vines of Vitis spp.

A grape is a fruit, botanically a berry, of the deciduous woody vines of the flowering plant genus Vitis.

Pollen The grains containing the male gametes of seed plants

Pollen is a fine to coarse powdery substance comprising pollen grains which are male microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce male gametes. Pollen grains have a hard coat made of sporopollenin that protects the gametophytes during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants, or from the male cone to the female cone of coniferous plants. If pollen lands on a compatible pistil or female cone, it germinates, producing a pollen tube that transfers the sperm to the ovule containing the female gametophyte. Individual pollen grains are small enough to require magnification to see detail. The study of pollen is called palynology and is highly useful in paleoecology, paleontology, archaeology, and forensics. Pollen in plants is used for transferring haploid male genetic material from the anther of a single flower to the stigma of another in cross-pollination. In a case of self-pollination, this process takes place from the anther of a flower to the stigma of the same flower.

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.

Until the 18th century, grapes were grown as a secondary product in extensive vineyards, from which light wines were produced, using a form of sharecropping. The wine was produced in some local varieties, of which only Bondola survived. They were mainly red wines, but some were mixtures of red varieties with some white varieties.

Vineyard Plantation of grape-bearing vines

A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice. The science, practice and study of vineyard production is known as viticulture.

Sharecropping form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land

Sharecropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range of different situations and types of agreements that have used a form of the system. Some are governed by tradition, and others by law. Legal contract systems such as the Italian mezzadria, the French métayage, the Spanish mediero, the Slavic połowcy,издoльщина or the Islamic system of muqasat, occur widely.

Bondola is a wine grape variety grown in the northern part of Ticino, Switzerland. It is mainly used in traditional wines, mainly by small or family wineries, and thus not very widespread in shops and restaurants.

The 20th century: the Merlot era

Because of new grapes diseases (e.g. phylloxera), the canton government decided to give a new direction to the wine industry: they instituted the cattedra itinerante (moving chair) to teach modern viticulture and winemaking methods, and to substitute new high-value grapes for the local grapes. After a few years of studies and selections, in 1906 the canton decided to seed and recommended Merlot as the main variety of grapes for the canton.

Another change was the operation of the railway of Gotthardbahn, which increased the commerce between Italy and the Swiss-German (and also German) market. This commerce has created new wineries, which mainly started with bottling of Italian wines, but then switched the focus to production of local wines.

In the Sopraceneri region of northern Ticino, the local variety Bondola still survives in some vineyards and is used to produce some wine.

Late 20th and 21st centuries

In the late 20th century, the wineries looked for quality wines, and because of new world wines, the demand of Merlot wine increased. Thus a golden era of wines of Ticino began. Unfortunately, in the first years of the 2000s there was overproduction, so now the TicinoWine (association of wineries in Ticino) tries to find and target new markets for the local wine.

Appellation and classification

In Ticino the grapes and wines are classified in three categories:

First category: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)

These are the best wines and production is limited to 1.0 kg/m2 for red grapes and 1.2 kg/m2 for white grapes. The appellation is Denominazione di Origine Controllata, normally Ticino DOC or Ticinese DOC and eventually other geographic denominations.

The wine can be made with Merlot, Bondola, Pinot noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carminoir, Gamaret, Garanoir, Diolinoir and Ancellotta for red grapes; and Chasselas, Chardonnay, Doral, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Kerner and Riesling x Sylvaner for white grapes.

Second category: vino da tavola o nostrano

They have the denomination Vino da tavola bianco/rosso or nostrano svizzero or della svizzera italiana.

Third category

The third denomination is simply Vino rosso or Vino bianco, without an explicit geographic denomination (other than Swiss or of Switzerland), with year and grape variety.

VITI

The VITI label was introduced before the appellation, to distinguish the better wines. Now only wines of first category (DOC) are allowed to use the VITI label, but it is not widely used on top quality wines.

Geography and terroir

Grapes are seeded in all districts of Ticino. The soil varies from acid soil in the northern part to limestone in the southern part, with some local geographical variation because of moraines, alluvium, etc. The region is very wet, but with few rainy days and many sunny days, so normally the vineyards are grassy, which limits erosion.

Valtellina

Wine from Brusio in Val Poschiavo (another Italian-speaking part of the Grisons, distant to Moesano) is generally considered to belong to the Italian wine region of Valtellina.

See also

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References

  1. From palynology papers cited in: Ceschi, Ivo (2006). Il Bosco del Cantone Ticino. pp. 30–34. ISBN   88-8281-193-X.

Further reading