Archive for April, 2016

Going natural: ViniVeri offers the best of the unexpected

April 28, 2016 Leave a comment
Vinveri Gianluca

Gianluca Piernera of Cantina Ninni in Spoleto was one of many “natural” winemakers sharing their products during the ViniVeri fair in Cerea, Italy. Story and photos by Dave Buchanan

Just pour, don’t filter.

You should never expect whatever you might consider “the normal” when exploring Italy’s wine country.

That “suspension of expectations” was reinforced earlier this month during ViniVeri, a wine fair and tasting at La Fabbrica, an immense and tastefully repurposed brick building in Cerea, Italy, an half-hour or so south of Verona.

The Consorzio ViniVeri promotes the annual event as featuring “wines as nature intended them,” this year’s theme emphasizing diversity and authenticity.

Maybe that should include a bit of audacity, as well.

That this wasn’t an ordinary wine tasting was cemented when one of the first tables poured a cloudy wine from a bottle bearing an imposing handprint and the words “Shake before use.” Read more…

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Vino 2016: Italian winemakers looking to increase share in U.S. market

April 23, 2016 Leave a comment
Vino 2016 crowd shot

Vino 2016 in New York City offered a two-day immersion into the world of Italian wine. Article and photos by Dave Buchanan

NEW YORK – Romano Baruzzi took a breath and looked out at the sea of faces in front of him.
“Buona sera a tutti, welcome everyone,” said Baruzzi, deputy trade commissioner for the Italian Trade Commission in New York City. “Welcome to the biggest event promoting Italian wines in the U.S.”
It’s opening night for Italian Wine Week/Vino 2016 and the featured panel discussion is titled “On the Bright Side: What’s Ahead for 2016.”
This first-night talk offers the attending producers, importers and the occasional journalist insights into what lies ahead for the next two days of concentrated immersion into Italian wine.
More than 160 Italian wine makers and their representatives are here, some of them plying their wares to almost that many importers and buyers while other winemakers, nearly one-third of those present, simply are seeking someone trustworthy in whom to entrust their wines. Read more…

At the end, VinItaly 2016 offered a sparkling finale

April 16, 2016 Leave a comment


VERONA, Italy – Days three and four at VinItaly are a contrast in energy and attitude. On day three winemakers still eagerly eye the passing throng, hopeful the next person at their stand is that much-awaited importer or buyer with deep pockets, ready to offer the ultimate deal. By day four, however, the pace has caught up with the reality, the mood is subdued and thoughts are trending to home, not of VinItaly.

Many of the winemakers and winery representatives have been running at full speed for nearly a week, with long days negotiating with buyers from around the world and often long nights entertaining (or being entertained by) those same buyers.

When you approach a booth in search of a sample or two, the edge of fatigue shows, the people ready to grab their bags and go.

“Yes, it’s been a long week,” said the woman standing behind a clear, ice-filled bucket, Franciacorta bottles splaying out like foil-capped roses. “Because you know we’ve been here before VinItaly and then it was constant pouring, pouring, pouring from open to close.

“It will be good to be home.”

But VinItaly, even with its hair in curlers, still is a marvelous place to find new wines and be surprised by old favorites. Read more…

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Sometimes, it takes little courage to survive VinItaly

April 13, 2016 1 comment

VinItaly 50VERONA – Day One for VinItaly 2016 and it’s happy half-century, VinItaly. Under sunny skies and mild temperatures, the 50th edition of the world’s largest wine fair opened Sunday with Italian president Sergio Mattarello among the thousands of enthusiastic wine lovers in attendance.
The opening day was a Sunday, which may account for the late-arriving attendees, but you still found the expected boisterous jam around many of the stands. Of course, having the President here, with his large contingent of security men and advisors, simply added to the general hysterics.

If you’re experienced at VinItaly, negotiating the crowds is no problem and if you are particularly fortunate you’ll find a friendly booth where you might escape for a few minutes to rest and learn about a new wine region or more about an old fave.

Susannah Crociani holds a bottle of her Vin Santo, a sweet wine made only in special vintages. Susanna is one of the handful of women winemakers in Italy.

I wedged myself into the tiny space occupied this week by winemaker Susanna Crociana of Montepulciano, who likes to say she was “nati en mezzo a botti e vigneti,” born among the barrels and vines.

Susanna makes several bottlings of Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, ranging from a lighter, everyday Rosso de Montepulciano IGT to the Riserva DOCG and the highly coveted Il Segreto di Giorgio. The latter is named after Susanna’s late brother Giorgio, who took over the winery following the death of their father but who in turn passed away in March of 2006.

His passing was particularly unfortunately in that he had just developed a special blend only to pass away before the first vintage was released. Susanna released that vintage in 2008 and now each year she releases the new vintage on Feb. 13, Giorgio’s birthday.

Susanna’s wines are made with the traditional Vino Nobile blend of 80 percent Sangiovese, 10 percent Canaiolo Nero and 10 percent Mamalo, an indigenous red grape that adds a rose-like bouquet to the wine. All of the wines are lush, deep in color and flavor and immediately approachable, although the 2012 Riserva still needs a year or two to blossom.

Women winemakers aren’t common in Italy and Susanna’s story stands out because she is running a successful business by herself, without parents or siblings for support or even advice. It’s no wonder her stand at VinItaly features four large murals displaying the words “Courage,” “Passion,” “Heritage” and “Time.”

We might have talked more but Susanna had an appointment with an importer and I was off to seek another quiet refuge in the buoyant chaos of VinItaly.

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Heading to VinItaly? Seven, make that eight, tips to keep in mind

Verona Ponte della Vittoria

Ponte di Castelvecchio Vecchio spanning the Adige River in  Verona, Italy. On the night of 25 April 1945, together with all the bridges of Verona, it was blown up by retreating Germans. Photo and story by Dave Buchanan

As sure as the swallows return each spring to the old mission at San Juan Capistrano, Italian winemakers each spring pack up their road show and head to Verona for the annual return of VinItaly, which bills itself as the world’s leading wine trade fair.

This year’s event (April 10-13) marks VinItaly’s 50th anniversary and understandably the buzz has been in the air for months, since no one can outdo the Italians when it comes to celebrating big events, especially one that attracts an international audience (last year more than 150,000 attendees from 30 countries) of wine buyers, importers, critics and wine lovers.

It can be a bit overwhelming – this year’s fair is expected to feature more than 4,100 exhibitors covering an impressive 100,000 square meters (that’s about 1.07 million square feet) of exhibition space. That’s big.

Read more…