Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 2, Wine Seminars
This is the second post about my experience at Vinitaly and Slow Wine 2013 in New York. In the first post I only gave you some interesting stats. Now, it is time to actually talk about wines.
Attending big wine tasting is great, wine is everywhere, and lots of it – at the same time, it is also very challenging. You can’t really assess wine methodically, it is more of a “swirl (carefully), sniff, sip, suck air, spit” – in case you wonder, “swallow” is typically not the part of the process, otherwise your tasting will be very, very short. After “spit” goes “write a word, may be two or three”, and move on, either to next wine or to the next table. No, of course I’m not complaining, just explaining that as usual for this type of my “tasting posts” there will be lots of pictures, and a few words.
We – oh yes, let me explain “we” – I spent all of the time at the event with Stefano of Flora’s Table fame (by the way, Stefano also just started the new blog called Clicks & Corks – be sure to check it out). Stefano is a wealth of knowledge and a pleasure to be around – if it would not be for him, I’m sure I would miss out on a number of gems at this tasting.
Now, let’s start again . We spent most of the time in the Slow Wine section of the event, with the exception of two wine Master Classes and a few wineries in the actual Vinitaly section. Let me start from the seminars, and then we will talk about other wines (probably in yet another post).
The first Master Class was a vertical tasting of Nino Negri ’5 Stelle’ Sfursat di Valtelina DOCG, a wine made out of Nebbiolo grape. Both Stefano and myself took care of pre-registering for this seminar (when I came to register, I got one of the last 3 seats). No matter. In addition to registration, program also mentioned that Master Classes are first come first serve events. So, do you think our registration helped us? Yep, you got it – not really. When we arrived about 15 minutes before the starting time, we were told that the room is full and there are no spaces left. Well, based on the fact that we had registered, we ignored the guy who was trying to stop us from getting inside of the room. But the room was full. No seats. And it is not that you need just seat – you also need a place for 6 glasses in front of you. I was witnessing a futile attempt of one of the organizers to remove two people who were sitting down and had no tickets. Nope, that was not happening. So when one wants to taste wine, this is what the one wants, right? Luckily for us, the place had very wide window seals. Stand by the window, get 6 glasses, ask for the wines to be poured. Actually, I have to say that service staff was super nice and super accommodating – we all got tasting placemats and we all got wine. Here are few pictures:
Nino Negri winery started in 1897 in the Valtelina region of Lombardy, in the area of Alps close to the Switzerland. This location makes harvesting of the grapes very difficult – actually, a helicopter is used nowadays to transport crates with grapes from the vineyard to the winery – here is a short video in case you want to see how the harvest looks like:
Nino Negri estate makes many different wines out of Nebbiolo grape. The wines we tasted, ’5 Stelle’ Sfursat, are only made in the best years, and they are done in the style similar to Amarone. After grapes are harvested, they are dried outside for 100 days before they are pressed. During these 100 days, grapes are sorted a few times, and all the grapes which don’t cut it are used to produce some other wines. After 100 days of drying the grapes are pressed with subsequent long maceration, and then aged for 18 month in new French oak barriques and 6 month in the bottle. Note that all these wines are not for the faint at heart – they boast 15% – 16% ABV.
Here are the notes for the wines we tasted, in the order we proceeded:
2009 – Prunes, brick dust on the nose, pretty green on the palate, very light for Nebbiolo, good minerality, short finish. Better on the second try, but too watery. Probably needs time.
2007 – According to the winemaker, 2007 was a great year. But – this bottle was oxidized. Some prunes on the palate, tasted more like a dry sherry than a normal wine.
2004 – this year had low yield, and drying season was very difficult. But the wine had nice power, good minerality, good tannins, long finish.
2002 – Prunes on the nose, with some raisins, soft, round, dark roasted fruit on the palate, tobacco, savory herbaceous notes, great balance, overall very nice.
2001 – Perfect beauty! Supple, round, with only a hint of dried fruits on the nose, perfectly balanced, really a outstanding wine. Hell with the rest of the tasting – need a full glass of this one to enjoy. Best of tasting.
1997 – This wine was as good as 2001 – more herbaceous notes than fruit, but perfectly elegant. Dried fruit on the nose (more than the previous wine), graphite and tobacco notes on the palate. Great complexity, balance and elegance. Borderline better than 2001 ( wait, didn’t I just called 2001 “best of tasting” – yeah, I always have trouble with making up my mind…)
All in all, tasting through the vertical of Nino Negri ’5 Stelle’ Sfursat wines was a special experience and I’m grateful to organizers for making it happen – the beauty of the wines overweight the logistical challenges.
At the end of the day, we attended another seminar, this one dedicated to the wines made on Volcanic soils of Italy. We were preregistered, at this point knew what to expect, ready for a fight and this time got the seats.
If you look at the map below (maps were provided as part of the seminar):
there are many volcanoes all over Italy, including even some of the active ones, like Etna in Sicily. Volcanic environments are uniquely different for all the things growing, vines included, and this whole “volcanic wines” project is dedicated to researching the effect of the volcanic soils on the resulting wines. It is also interesting to note that at this point, the whole project is only dedicated to white wines ( and I was hoping to taste some reds).
All together, we tasted 9 white wines:
Overall, I wouldn’t say that I was super impressed with the wines. Some wines were better than the others, but there were no OMG moments. Here are the notes for my favorites:
Azienda Marcato – Lessini Durello Metodo Classico 36 Mesi NV – this was the only sparkling wine in the tasting, and it was outstanding. A blend of 85% Durello, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Nero, 12% ABV. Apple and toasted bread on the nose, nice minerality, smell of granite. Perfect minerality on the palate, very dry. Excellent.
2011 Cantina del Castello – DOC Soave Classico “Pressoni” – a blend of 80% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano di Soave, 13.5% ABV. Nice nose of lemon, green apple, good acidity. White apple and pear on the palate, good acidity, nice lemony aftertaste.
2011 Barone di Villagrande – Etna Bianco Superiore – 100% Carricante. Nice nose with minerality and some saltiness, very dry on the palate with pineapple aftertaste.
That concludes the part 2 of the Vinitaly experience. In the part 3, I will (finally) tell you about the wonderful wines we experienced at the event. Cheers!