A better translation for “sperone cordonato.” Film yeast, false friends, bad translations. Italian wine glossary updated.

Sit tibi terra levis Iacobe. See this round-up of tributes to beloved winemaker and grape grower Jim Clendenen. News of his passing stunned a saddened and diminished wine world on Monday. I only had the opportunity to interact with him a few times but Tracie and I have always enjoyed the wines immensely. When we lived in Austin, he and I shared the same hair dresser. No joke! He had better hair than me. And he was always so warm and nice when we met him. One of the greatest wine people of our generation. Lovely man and legacy wines that shaped a legion of young wine professionals in this country.

The work of a lexicographer is as thankless as it is exhausting. Yet we glossographers soldier on.

This morning, I updated and added a couple of terms to the Italian wine terms glossary (below).

One new entry is for fioretta or film yeast/surface yeast/mycoderma. Thanks to Italian wine professional Barbara Santilli for suggesting that one.

The entries for criomacerazione or cold soak and filtro a cartone or plate filter were inspired by the challenges these terms have posed for Italian interlocutors on our weekly virtual wine dinner calls.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard an Italian call their filter a “cardboard filter” (a false friend), I’d buy all the Tavernello I could (see the new entry for vino dozzinale or plonk below).

And lastly, I owe the newly updated rendering of cordone speronato or permanent cordon to a blog post by Jamie Goode (whom I don’t know personally but whose writing I admire).

No update of the glossary would be complete without thanking the “vineyard doctor” Maurizio Gily, one of Italy’s most prolific flying vineyard managers and prodigious publisher of viticultural miscellanea. Maurizio has been instrumental in dotting some of these i’s and crossing some of these t’s.

Buona lettura. Enjoy.

a giropoggio vines planted across a slope (along the contour of the slope; compare with a ritocchino)
a ritocchino vines planted up and down a slope (from peak to valley; compare with a giropoggio)
acciaio (inossidabile) stainless-steel (vat/tank)
acinellatura millerandage (shot berries, hens and chicks, or pumpkins and peas)
affinamento aging
alberello head-trained bush vines
allegagione fruit set
allevamento training
apice vegetativo shoot tip
argilla clay
arresto di fermentazione stuck fermentation
assemblaggio blend
azoto nitrogen
barbatella rooted cutting/bench graft
barrique barrique (small French oak cask)
bâtonnage stirring on the lees
biodinamica biodynamics/biodynamic
biologico organic
botte traditional large cask
bucce skins
Cabernet (Sauvignon) Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc Cabernet Franc
calcare/calcareo limestone/calcareous (limestone-rich)
capo a frutto fruit cane
cappello sommerso submerged cap maceration
chioma canopy
chiusura grappolo bunch closure
cimatura hedging
cocciniglia mealybug
cordone cordon
cordone speronato permanent cordon (cordon-trained spur-pruned vines)
criomacerazione cold soak
cru vineyard designation/single vineyard
cuvée blend
délestage rack and return
diradamento dei grappoli pruning/thinning grapes/dropping fruit/green harvest
diradamento di germogli shoot thinning
diraspare/diraspatrice de-stem/de-stemmer
diserbante termico weed torch/weed flamer
DOC DOC (designation of controlled origin)
DOCG DOCG (designation of controlled and guaranteed origin)
DOP PDO (protected designation of origin)
doppio capovolto double-arched cane (training)
drenaggio drainage
esca esca (black dead arm or black measles)
escursione termica diurnal shift (temperature variation)
femminella lateral shoot
fermentazione arrestata stuck fermentation
filare row
filtro a cartone plate filter (pad filter)
fioretta film yeast/surface yeast/mycoderma
flavescenza dorata grapevine yellows (flavescence dorée)
follatura punching down
forma di allevamento training system/trellis system
galestro galestro (a marl- and limestone-rich subsoil unique to Tuscany)
gemma bud
gemma dormiente, gemma d’inverno dormant bud
germogliamento budbreak/budburst
giropoggio vines planted across a slope (along the contour of the slope; compare with a ritocchino)
grappa grappa
grappolo cluster/bunch
grappolo spargolo loosely clustered grape bunch
Guyot Guyot
IGP PGI (protected geographical indication)
IGT IGT (typical geographical indication)
inerbimento sward management of the soil
innesto graft
interfila inter-row
invaiatura veraison
lievito naturale native/ambient/indigenous/wild yeast
lievito selezionato cultured yeast
limo silt
macchia mediterranea Mediterranean maquis (shrubland)
maestrale (vento di maestrale) north-westerly wind
malolattica malolactic fermentation
marna/marne marl
marza scion
maturazione ripening
monovitigno single-grape variety (wine)
mosto must
oidio oidium (powdery mildew)
pedicello pedicel
peduncolo stem (peduncle)
pergola pergola/overhead trellis system
peronospora peronospora (downy mildew)
pied de cuve pied de cuve (native yeast starter)
pigiatura crush/crushing
pirodiserbatore weed torch/weed flamer
pirodiserbo weed torching
pollone sucker
portinnesto rootstock
pressa press
pressare to press
quercia oak
rachide rachis
raspo stem
rimontaggio pumping over
ritocchino vines planted up and down a slope (from peak to valley, as it were; compare with a giropoggio)
sabbia/sabbioso sand/sandy (sandy soil)
Sauvignon (Blanc) Sauvignon Blanc
scacchiatura shoot-thinning
scheletro very fine gravel
seme seed
sfogliatura leaf plucking
sgemmatura disbudding
siccità drought/drought conditions
sistema di allevamento training/trellis system
sottofila under-row
sottosuolo subsoil
sovescio cover crop/green manure
sovramaturazione over-ripening
spalliera (vigneto a spalliera) vertical shoot positioning of the shoots (VSP)
spargolo (grappolo spargolo) loosely clustered (grape bunch)
sperone spur
spollonatura disbudding and suckering/de-suckering
stralciatura shoot-thinning
stress idrico hydric stress
sulle bucce skin contact (macerated on the skins)
sulle fecce nobili lees aged (aged on its lees)
sur lie lees aged (aged on its lees)
svinatura racking (devatting, drawing off)
terreno/terreni soil
tessitura (del suoolo) soil texture
tignola della vite vine moth (Eupoecilia ambiguella) European berry moth
tralcio shoot/cane
tramoggia hopper/feeder
tufo tufaceous subsoil (porous limestone)
vasca vat/tank
vento di maestrale north-westerly wind
vigna/vigne vine/vineyards
vigneto vineyard
vinaccia/vinacce pomace
vinacciolo seed
vino dozzinale plonk
vite vine
viticcio tendril
vitigno grape variety

3 thoughts on “A better translation for “sperone cordonato.” Film yeast, false friends, bad translations. Italian wine glossary updated.

  1. Monica, thanks so much for the kind words. I love what you continue to do to humanize Italian wine. Ever since you added new appellations to the Parker vintage chart and started talking to winemakers beyond Piedmont and Tuscany, you’ve done so much to raise awareness of what makes Italian wine great. Thanks for being here.

  2. I’m nobody compared to certain other commenters on your blog, but in the humble and regular work of translating texts about wine, your list is bookmarked on my computer and has saved me many, many times. Nice to have a new translation for plonk, too, as I was trying to explain that one to colleagues just the other day!

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