If Paul John of Chateau de
Banyan were the filmy Producer of 'Big B Wines of Bangalore',
Lucio Matricardi would certainly be labelled as the Italian
Director. He is the man who orchestrates the grapes and
makes then perform to his specifications and criteria, in
the barrel and the bottle.
had the pleasure of meeting Lucio in the serene surroundings
of backwaters of Kochi a couple of weeks ago. At the beautiful
Kumarakom Lake Resort, owned by Paul, the Big Banyan wines
even tasted better, reinforcing my theory that the environment
in which wine is drunk has a big bearing on the total enjoyment.
At first glance, Lucio with his rimmed
glasses looks like a college wine professor. Well, as it
turned out, he actually is. With a PhD from the UC Davies,
he also teaches and consults with the University of Milan,
among many other clients as an enologist.
If you ever planned to do a thesis in the
oak characteristics of barrels he would not only tell you
the 'Influence of Toasting Technique on Colour and Ellagitannins
of Oak Wood in Barrel Making' but also a better technique
of making the barrels so they last longer. The research
he did on making the temperature controlled barrels increases
their life span by about 3 years-resulting on significant
He could even discuss with you 'the effects
of high hydrostatic pressure processing and of glucose oxidase-catalase
addition on the colour stability and sensorial score of
Born in a farming family in the province
of Marche- he claims his mother cooks the best home made
pasta with eggs, the 38 year young 'Professor' studied in
the agricultural science school in Bologna under the famous
Prof. Aureliano Amati, specialising in wine and vine. His
thesis was on an interesting subject-Pascalisation of wine:
killing of enzymes at a pressure of 10,000-50,000 atmospheric
bars! Pretty technical stuff, eh?
He went to University of California
, Davies for his Ph.D., where his specialisation was wine
biotechnology with focus on oak seasoning for wine barrels.
'There had been no control on the seasoning
of wood and the toasting was done at temperatures estimated
at 140-150 ° C. My specialisation was in Pyrolysis
which has been now introduced in many places,' says Lucio.
Lucio worked for 5 years in Castello
Banfi where he was responsible for new products,
research and wine marketing promotion. He also had a brief
stint of 8 months with the boutique Miranda
winery in Barossa Valley, South Australia.
He has since been working as a winemaker in charge of wine
production at Mezzacorona, one of the biggest
co-operative wineries in Trentino.
Here are the excerpts from my chat with him over glasses
of Big Banyan wines:
How does it feel working for the
titan of Italian wineries after working with a relatively
There are many positives in a big winery.
For instance, in Banfi it was always a matter of producing
powerful wines that would get good Parker ratings. At Mezzacorona,
we do not aspire to go for those ratings and like to bring
out the best value for money wines for our customers.
But don't they use high yielding,
cheaper grapes lower in quality
Not true. We buy the best possible grapes
from our growers and even pay premium prices at times. We
save money because of our volumes and the technology we
Technologies like machine harvest,
This is a perfect example of how technology
actually helps us in picking quality grapes. At Banfi where
the grapes are handpicked, the picker could also cut the
bunch off even when the grapes are not ready because he
is a daily wager and may not understand grapes. A mechanical
harvester only jolts only those bunches out of the vine
that are ready to pick. So, if a bunch is not ready to harvest,
it would not fall off the vine.
Mezzacorona reminds me of a great
autochthonous Trentino grape varietal which I tasted there
last year- interesting, spicy wine that should do well here.
I totally agree. It is typical from this
region and is now getting very popular internationally.
The price is also fairly reasonable and gives a great value
Talking of India, are you selling
Mezzacorona wines in India?
Not yet but we have already talked with
Chateau de Banyan who have shown a great interest in importing
our wines- Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Rose, Toreldego and
Rotari Spumante being very popular options for the Indian
How did you connect with India?
one of my trips to India I met Paul John of Chateau de Banyan.
He was thinking of making quality wines in India and was
looking for some help. University of Milan is where I am
a consulting winemaker and Luca Toninato is a viticulture
specialist. We decided to take it up as a University project
and started working with him and his winery in Goa.
What is your role in the making
of Big Banyan wines?
The brief given to me has been to get
Paul the best possible wines from the grapes purchased from
the existing vineyards and of course, to help him with the
selection of the right land and selecting the optimum varietals.
We should be coming out with wine made from our own grapes
from 2009 vintage.