Above: Francesco Ricasoli, legacy Sangiovese grower and Chianti Classico producer, with technicians in the Ricasoli winery’s laboratory.
Researchers at the University of Pisa department of agricultural and food studies believe they have found one of the holy grails of viticultural science: a direct correlation between soil types and aromas in wines made from grapes grown in those soil types.
Their initial results were informally presented to an Italian wine trade observer on a September 2022 visit to the estate. They plan on publishing their results in 2023.
In a partnership that echoes the historic collaboration between the Iron Baron, Bettino Ricasoli, the current owner’s ancestor, and the University of Pisa’s agriculture department in the second half of the 19th century, the Ricasoli winery has allowed the scientists to use his large laboratory on the grounds of the estate. But more significantly, Francesco Ricasoli has also allowed them to use his grapes and wines for their work. Because the expansive Ricasoli property is planted primarily to Sangiovese, it offers the researches a unique opportunity to analyze aromas from a wide array of parcels, wines, and soil types.
Using gas chromatography, they have identified the compounds associated with aromas in wines from the different vineyards. And while the correlation between soil type and aroma has been studied and documented in the past, the scale of the current studies represents a breakthrough that could have global implications for the wine trade.
The effect of soil on wine has been a highly controversial topic in certain circles of the wine world. While some believe there is a direct relationship between the two, others have argued that the connection is much more nuanced and arguably not immediately apparent to the untrained olfactory.
The Pisa-Ricasoli research could definitively change that dialectic.