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On song, with the vines

DECCAN CHRONICLE | SURUCHI KAPUR-GOMES
Published Oct 1, 2015, 4:39 am IST
Updated Mar 27, 2019, 3:49 pm IST
From the wonderfully abundant land of Italy comes this lady who knows her tenets well
Maura Marciante
 Maura Marciante

A sommelier has trysts with bouquets of wines. And it’s a sonnet of different tenets that speak a language you and I probably don’t understand. Maura Marciante is that bountiful note that comes from a long history of winemaking. In the city for a  masterclass, Maura spoke about being a pillar of the family-run Zonin Wines in Italy, which, incidentally, is the country’s largest private wine enterprise.

Maura is also a part of the The Donne Del Vino Association which is the Women in Wine that started in Italy in 1988 and has over 600 women of Italy as members. And given her almost adoration of the grape, she pipes, “The association is in its 25th year, and it has become a concrete national reference point for the commitment of women and the grape-growing community. If we join forces, we will succeed in sending out a strong message that will determine the future of our planet. First of these is learning to eat and drink in a way that is good for our health and for the world as a whole.”

 

She also loves the fact that she can connect with wine professionals that have an endless passion for wine and good food. “We love the beauty of sharing a bottle of wine together. This makes the group so lively and positive!” she adds.

Being an ambassador of the brand which she joined as export assistant way back in 1995, she is now coordinating the marketing and exports. Marciante has travelled far and wide and her favourite vineyards? “I adore Salento peninsula, in Apulia, South of Italy. Salento, located between Adriatic and Ionian seas, is a popular tourist destination. This favourable geographic position, characterised by a pleasant sea breeze and intense sun, is a historically advantageous condition for vine cultivation. New wines estates, like our Masseria Altemura, are simply breathtaking for their enchanting beauty! Masseria Altemura has vineyards, whose soil is woven with clay and limestone fragments, that reflect  the hot sunlight and warm the grapes. Excellent Pugliese wines of character are created here,” she explains.

The wine itself is something that has become a part and parcel of her existence, “The family has been connected to the world of wine since 1821 with roots in Gambellara, in the heart of the Veneto. Domenico Zonin was born in Gambellara in 1899, the second of 10 in a family of small viticulturists. He demonstrated his talent from a young age and in 1921, after the hardships of the war, he began selling wine and founded Casa Vinicola Zonin. At the end of the 1960s, Gianni joined the company alongside his “Uncle Domenico” and became President at the age of 29,” recalls Maura. Ask the girl who grew up trailing vineyards about her favourites and she’s unstoppable, “I love Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico Riserva. The vineyards that surround the hamlet of Castello d’Albola form a site of outstanding quality and they represent the most evocative amphitheatre of vines in all of Chianti Classico. The vineyards located at 350 and 550 metres above sea level, are exposed to light, as they say in Tuscany, “from sun to sun”. A novice has to do exercises and have faith in his personal taste! If you want to learn differences of different bouquets you have to love wine, be curious and. Taste a lot! When many wine drinkers hear that a wine received a 90-plus point rating from a wine critic, they go out of their way to get that wine. The curiosity to try a wine that scores well is understandable, but the rigid belief that such a wine is (a) necessarily a great wine and (b) a wine you'll like is simply misguided. The critics' scores are nothing more than the critics' professional opinion — and opinions, like tastes, are personal,” advices the lady.

When at home Maura enjoys spending time with family and friends. “The region where I live and in which I was born, Veneto Region, gives lots of opportunities — from the mountains, to the sea and lakes. I like skiing in the winter. It is one of my favourite sports. And travelling is my favourite hobby,” pipes the lady.

Her company has grown and she feels that Gianni had a vision of how to bring the company to its current state. And that was when they also started acquiring vineyards, “The three Gianni sons, Domenico, Francesco, and Michele, have been working at the company for a decade and are ready for the challenge of successfully continuing the family business, with an innovative and modern vision,” she adds.

In India, Maura is happy to see, “We are lucky enough because during the years we introduced quite many of our wines into the country. I’ve noticed that people here love Chianti and Soave, not to mention Prosecco. We just launched a new wine from Tuscany, Oso from Castello d’Albola and it seems everyone loved it too. Oso is a non-traditional  Tuscan wine, so it means that Indian people are open to discovering new wines.” But of Indian wines, she is a tad cautious, “I tried the a Viognier here, but prefer the Viognier we produce in Italy. It is crispier and much frutier.”

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