Around 1910, the Anti-Phylloxera Consortium of Brescia made the first geological and viticultural study of the Franciacorta vineyard, defining this area as the “Sebino Morenic Amphitheatre” (photo of old zoning map).
Very interesting information emerged from this work regarding the composition of the land planted with vines, and the identification of the sub-zones. These data reveal their importance when compared with the results of the zoning study of Franciacorta wine that started in 1992.
Investigations of this type are of central importance within the objective of qualitative excellence, as they aim to find the best possible combination of the factors determining the sensory characteristics of the wine. A viticultural ecosystem is in fact “identified by its vine or vines and rootstocks, the climate, the soil and the human technical choices, correlated and integrated with biological, ecological and human factors that are the basis recognising the denomination of origin of wines. We can easily understand then that there are numerous small differences within one territory, differentiating the sub-areas, and leading to different results in terms of the final product. As such, the choice of the best possible matrix combines the above-mentioned variables, based on maps made from information collected within zoning studies, and this choice will be increasing informed by knowledge, media and scientific instruments rather than through simple, concrete but inevitably limited direct experience.
Viticultural zoning is thus used to improve knowledge of the production factors in the field that determine and influence the quality of the product, and also to optimise and increase the efficiency of the work and choices of cultivation techniques. It has also highlighted and underlined the importance of the terroir to the product obtained because of its identification, recognition and the intrinsic link between name, production method, product type and quality. It has also stimulated collective enhancement of commercial and viticultural operations among different manufacturers, where different environmental situations make it possible to enrich, preserve and protect the product. Finally, zoning has been useful for testing the significance and adaptability individual vines in one specific landscape unit, comparing the sensory and organoleptic responses to the final products obtained in different subareas.
The zoning study has redrawn the map of the landscape units. These areas are homogeneous in terms of both for their soil characteristics and their landscape (morphology, slope, exposure and mesoclimate characteristics), and the functional map describes six different uses for them.
The functional units are areas of land that are homogeneous in terms of the type of soil characteristics, vegetative and productive aspects, qualitative aspects (kinetics of maturation of the grapes, analytical parameters of grape must) and sensory profile of the resulting base wines.
This zoning thus becomes a powerful tool in the hands of winemakers, agronomists and oenologists when making the the many technical choices from the planting of the vineyard until the formation of the cuvées, which are skilfully created starting from base wines that have different characteristics depending on their origin.