Are all ready to learn more about one of the company's top figures? Walter Sovran is director and winemaker, so different on paper: on the one hand a strict control on the company's activities, on the other hand inspiration in creating excellent wines. But are they really so different? Let's find out.
#panizzipeople 4: Walter Sovran
What's your job at Panizzi
I am director and head of winemaking. On the one hand, I manage and organize as well as supervise the staff; on the other hand I oversee winemaking (and olive oil making), from the vineyard (and olive grove) to the bottle.
The work varies a great deal because it embraces both organizational and administrative tasks, up to the last of the production details, which makes all the difference in our industry. But in a company like ours we need to be flexible and available to the most varied tasks, whatever the role we play.
What is the skill that those who do your job cannot absolutely lack?
Apart from the passion for wine (absolutely recommended if you want your wines to speak to those who drink them), perseverance and patience. When I produce wine and I want to trigger a change, results come with time, a lot of time, and I need to start from very far. For example, let's think about the time when I plan and implement a new vineyard: I have to wait until the plant is born, grows and starts to bear fruit, process it and taste it, all this facing a thousand unexpected events (first of all weather). Only at this point can I understand if I have gone in the right direction. But when this work pays off, it's a huge satisfaction.
As for the role of director, paradoxically, the elements are the same: it is only a long time after having thrown the seeds for change that I see the fruits, and sometimes painstakingly.
What is your favorite element in your work?
Without a doubt technical winemaking: following, understanding and interpreting the course of the vintage, looking for solutions to the unexpected events of each season, identifying the peculiarities and applying the best choices at each stage; from pruning to harvesting, from pressing to bottling.
The most fascinating element in my profession is to succeed each year, starting from a different raw material, never equal to the previous ones, in producing a wine that is not only better, but above all more recognizable by character and style than the previous ones. It is also essential to preserve the same connotation, as if it were an equal constant through the years that, however, has the power to renew itself.
Vice versa, the bureaucratic component of my work is the element that interests me least and I would be pleased to demand it in full to others!
What did you do before working at Panizzi?
For the two years prior to my arrival at Panizzi I was director of the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Consortium, but before that, from the end of my studies, I have always done the work I now do at Panizzi.
What do you do in your free time? What are your passions?
My free time is very little, but I try to cultivate the passions I have always had as much as possible: music, photography and reading. The first two now I cultivate very little: I certainly listen to music, but I do not research, I do not update my musical culture as I once did. Instead, reading has become my favorite occupation. I read a little of everything, and in the last few years I have developed a special fondness for crime and detective stories.
What is your favorite wine in Panizzi? Which wine do you identify with most? Why?
It is a question that is difficult to answer. It's like asking who you love best among your children!
But being a lover of white wines, because of my training, experience and culture, I am inclined to think of Vernaccia, or rather to Panizzi's Vernaccias, which are many and very different from one another.
In particular, I would like to mention Evoè, because technically it is a very intriguing wine that tells a lot of things: it presents itself in a unique way for quality and evolution of tannins, tactile softness, absence of oxidative notes.
I've experimented on Vernaccia di San Gimignano for thirty years and I've tried and tested everything in the cellar: temperatures, yeasts, macerations, reductions, oxidations, woods, lees. Yet Evoè is, at this day and age, for me, a new departure.
It was created, before my arrival, to probe and verify the expressive limits of the vine, in order to rediscover the taste that Vernaccia wine could have had once. The result? Evoé has come to delineate new profiles, to widen its horizons, to break down its borders and to indicate new expressive ways. With me, this path goes on, and I am the one to show the way. Paradoxically, starting from modern oenological knowledge, we are returning to the origins of the history of Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
What is your favorite place at Panizzi?
The summit of the hill that separates the two sides of the Santa Margherita vineyard. It offers a breathtaking landscape.
What is your favorite place in San Gimignano?
Piazza Pecori. I find the frescoes in the loggia that run along the cathedral sensational. I was literally struck by them the first time I visited San Gimignano at the end of May 1988. The frescoes were those reproduced on my elementary school book and it was a real leap in the past to find them in front of me.
Also Sala Dante is a special place, but the best thing is not to get there from the entrance from Piazza Duomo, but from the staircase that climbs up from Cortile del Podestà. This place is also a dive into the past, because in this so solemn hall, dominated by the Majesty of Lippo Memmi, in 1300 Dante pleaded the cause of the Guelph league: you feel small, sensing the weight of history that passed from there.