Getting Better With Age, Just Like Spumante

One has heard the figure of speech about people being born with a silver spoon in their mouth. But when you meet Polina Bosca, this idiom gets a small twist. You could say she was born with a wine flute in her hand! After all, she was born into a family with a lineage steeped in wine.

Established in Canelli, Italy, in 1831, Bosca is one of the oldest Italian sparkling wines and alcoholic beverages producers in the world. What is unique about this company is that it is still owned and run by the family of the founder. Today, its product range from traditional sparkling wines to innovative sparkling beverages is created with state of the art technology developed in Bosca.

Polina Bosca and her colleagues at Bosca Wines have to research newer spumante flavors, without losing touch with the traditional process of wine making.
Polina Bosca and her colleagues at Bosca Wines have to research newer spumante flavors, without losing touch with the traditional process of wine making.

A SPARKLING LIFE

Polina spent her entire life hearing about grapes, vintages, varietals and other aspects of winemaking. Since several members of her family are involved in the Bosca family business, dinner table conversations were often about the wine trade.

This fascinated Polina so much she would follow her father around the house and the vineyard, asking him questions that he would patiently answer. Having learnt the business of winemaking at her father’s knee, she continues to learn about it, albeit from other peers in the industry.

“My father was a great innovator and he always brought home new wines from our vineyards to taste. Sometimes there were products that became great successes and sometimes they remained samples forever,” she reminisces.

Before joining the family business, she decided to get a degree in agriculture with a specialisation in viticulture and oenology at the University Of Turin, to get a better understanding about grapes and vines. Today, she is the agribusiness manager of Bosca Wines and manages over 700 acres of its vineyards in Italy’s Southern Piedmont areas including Muscat, Barolo, Barbaresco and Chardonnay. “I am also responsible for the coordination of the R&D division and the supervision of all new ventures around the world implying the use of local grapes,” she modestly states, underlying the arduous work this entails.

A BUSINESS FRAUGHT WITH RISKS

The winemaking business involves several processes from the cultivation of grapes, to supply of wine and other materials involved in the production of a spumante (sparkling Italian wine), to its fermentation and filtration, to tasting it for quality control, etc. The rising interest in wine globally has given rise to growing competition. Polina and her colleagues at Bosca then have to research newer spumante flavors, without losing touch with the traditional process of wine making.

Bosca has 200-year old cellars that the company hopes will soon become UNESCO’s treasure, where they produce spumante through the champenoise method. “This reminds us every day from where we started and that gives us a lot of inspiration,” Polina explains.

These are Bosca's vast wine cellars at Canelli. Today, the Bosca group produces more than 50,000,000 bottles a year
These are Bosca’s vast wine cellars at Canelli. Today, the Bosca group produces more than 50,000,000 bottles a year

At the same time, the winemaking business is fraught with risks. Polina’s most difficult challenges are during the pruning phase of the vineyards, which has to be done perfectly, and fighting against the diseases that affect the vines. “If even one of these happen, we risk having no grapes! I therefore like to follow these phases as closely as I can and go in the vineyards, see how the work is going and am constantly in touch with my team,” she explains about her work. This helps her take decisions on the go – something that is possible because Bosca is a family-owned business rather than a conglomerate.

Today, the Bosca group produces more than 50,000,000 bottles a year, but Polina likes to think that these products are emotions, produced with the love that the little producer has. “After all, spumante is synonymous of happiness and joy,” she happily says.

IDENTIFYING NEW MARKETS

The beauty of spumante is that it finds favor even with the non-wine drinkers, especially in countries like India where whisky and white spirits still dominate bar-room menus. A decade ago, Bosca entered into joint venture agreements with some companies in India and started vineyards in Maharashtra’s Baramati area. With an intention to develop a slightly sweet sparkling wine for the Indian market, they collaborated with Sula Vineyards and launched Dia, which complemented the Indian palette that is more inclined to sweeter wines.

Polina explains that Dia is a white, slightly sparkling, sweetish, very aromatic and fruity wine, with only 8% alcohol content, which is probably the lowest percentage of alcohol in any Indian wine. “It is for those who like to have the emotion that wine gives but can’t manage to drink the traditional wines due to their complexity,” Polina explains about this brand. The grapes for this wine are sourced from Sula’s vineyards in Nashik and a specific temperature is maintained to ensure that the grapes have the right amount of acidity and uniform ripeness.

It looks like the brand is finding favor with Indian customers, because the company sold 20,000 cases of Sula Dia in 2013. Polina is excited about prospects in India and says that while it is a still a new competitor in the international wine market, it is quickly making up for lost time. In fact, she is hopeful that soon we might see lot of Indian wines on the international racks as well. Let’s drink to that sweet thought!