Posts Tagged ‘vinitaly’

VIA Masterclass: Amarone

February 25, 2014 4 comments

DSC_0665Continuing the subject of VIA Masterclass (here is the link to the previous post about Barolo masterclass), I want to talk about Amarone, one of the most uniquely Italian wines. The class was called “Amarone – The Velvet Underground”, and I think the name is very fitting. Let me explain.

Have you ever experienced a great Amarone? To me, the great Amarone starts with the nose which you can’t forget. As the wine is made from the grapes which had been dried under the sun for at least 90 days and thus more resembling the raisins than actual grapes before they will be pressed, it shows all those beautiful flavors of the dry, sun-aged fruit. After the aromas, which you can’t stop inhaling, comes the body – perfectly dry, perfectly full, perfectly powerful. This is what good Amarone is supposed to be. If you will think about the process, you will understand why Amarone has its price (think about the fact that most of the grapes lose about 40% of their mass – how many more grapes do you need to make the same bottle of wine?) – but if good Amarone is your wine, you will be willing to pay the price.

If you will search my blog for Amarone, you will find many posts, a lot of them complaining, hinting at my disappointment (I very rarely talk negatively about wines – I prefer not to write about bad experiences instead of bashing them). As of late, it became increasingly difficult to find Amarone as I described above, soft and velvety, but powerful and beautiful at the same time. A lot of the wines have very muted nose, and super-alcoholic, over-extracted, unbalanced body (and I just boasted about my non-confrontational style, huh).

This is where information from our Masterclass became very helpful. Yes, first we listened to the history of Amarone (discovered by accident, when the cask of Recioto, a famous sweet wine made from the dried grapes (passito) , was allowed to ferment through and became a dry elegant wine with – alas – bitter taste! Hence the name – Amarone, from the word Amaro – bitter). Then we talked about the geography and various sub-zones of Valpolicella region in Veneto – this is where Amarone is produced, with the best Amarone coming from the (not surprisingly!) hillside vineyards. Over the last decade, there was a huge increase in demand for Amarone worldwide. Think about the following facts. Consortium of Amarone producers was established in 1973 to regulate production of Amarone – so the production statistics are available from approximately that time. Amarone area plantings increased from 11431 acres in 1972 to 15723 in 2009. At the same time, all the way until early 2000s, there were about 1 million bottles of Amarone produced per year. In 2007, this number jumped to 8 (!) million, and then to the 16 (!!) million in 2008. Yes, it is great to have such a demand, but – where do you get the grapes to increase your production so dramatically over such a short period of time? You have to allow your vineyards to overproduce, and you have to lower your standards of quality and harvest the grapes from the vineyards which in the past you will never take the grapes from for your flagship wines. You see, Amarone is a top wine of Valpolicella. Amarone wines are typically made from Corvina, Corvinone, Molinara and Rondinella grapes, taken in the different ratios as each grape brings its own qualities tot he wine. Wines of Valpolicella are made from the same grapes – but it would be those which were not good enough to be made into Amarone.

To satisfy this huge demand in Amarone, there is also a push to extend the production area of Amarone, which would lead to the further deterioration of quality. In 2013, Amarone Consortium approved the increase of  Amarone production zone  by 30%, which will mainly come from the flatlands. To fight against it, 12 Amarone producers (Allegrini, Begali, Brigaldara, Masi, Musella, Nicolis, Speri, Tedeschi, Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Tommasi, Venturini, Zenato) created Amarone Family association (Famiglia dell’Amarone d’Arte) back in 2009, with the goal of pushing back and defending traditions of quality in production of Amarone. Marilisa Allegrini, currently the Head of Amarone Family association was present at the masterclass and she had an opportunity to talk briefly to all the attendees.

Amarone Family VIAAnd then there was the tasting, of course. We went through 11 different Amarone wines, and here are the notes (this are my actual notes in its progression, like declaring the wine “best so far”).

Amarone Masterclass 1

1. 2010 Tommasi Viticoltori Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC
Nose: ok, traditional nose of a red wine, but not Amarone
Palate: over extracted and super-bitter

2. 2008 Begali Amarone Classico
Nose: campfire, then dark fruit with medicinal undertones
Palate: bitter, biting

3. 2009 Speri Amarone Classico Vegneto Monte Sant’Urbano
Nose: green and vegetative
Palate: bitter, over extracted.

4. 2009 Masi Agricola SPA Amarone Costasera
Nose: nice, open, hint of sweet fruit
Palate: not bad. Not too bitter, good power, clean balance. ++-|

5. 2009 Allegrini Amarone
Nose: best so far – beautiful, nice, open, fresh berries
Palate: closed, bitter

6. 2009 Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC
Nose: exceptional – true Amarone nose – fresh jammy fruit, but very balanced – raisins, figs – wow! +++
Palate: nice, soft, round – very good.

7. 2008 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva
Nose: nice! Fresh, open, good fruit
Palate: excellent. Best so far – nice, clean wine, powerful tannins without bitterness. +++

8. 2008 Brigaldara Amarone Case Vecie
Nose: nice, good dried fruit
Palate: good, clean, round – outstanding! Even better than the previous wine +++

9. 2008 Tedeschi Capitel Monte Olmi della Valpolicella Classico DOC
Nose: nice, concentrated fruit, good
Palate: needs time, but still perfectly round +++

10. 2008 Venturini Amarone
Nose: interesting nose, but pretty closed.
Palate: too austere. Not bad as a wine, but not good as Amarone

11. 2007 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Amarone Campo dei Gigli
Nose: dark, concentrated fruit, blueberries, raspberries
Palate: very good, but a bit bitter. It’s a bummer as I had a great experience with this wine at the tasting in September.

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That’s all I have for you for today. What do you think of Amarone? Share your experience! Cheers!

VinItaly and Slow Wine 2014 – Fun, Education, and Lots of Wines

February 15, 2014 19 comments

VinItaly and Slow Wine logoThe story started 48 years ago, with the event called “Italian Wine Days”, which hosted a number of Italian wineries willing to present their wines to the world. Since then, VinItaly grew into one of the biggest wine shows in the world – its main 4 days event typically is taking place in April in Verona and attracts more than 140,000 visitors from 116 countries. Starting in 2013, VinItaly started the new initiative, called VinItaly International, with the goal of taking the Italian wines on the road and bringing them to the United States, Russia, China and other countries.

Outraged by the planned construction of McDonalds restaurant on Spanish Steps in Rome, the Slow Food movement was created in Italy in 1986, quickly becoming an international phenomenon, aiming at educating people about slow, real and delicious food, just the way it should be. Since then, Slow Food movement was embraced by millions of people in more than 160 countries around the world. Starting in 2010, Slow Food started publishing its wine guide, called (you guessed it) Slow Wine, dedicated to the wines which are best at demonstrating the Slow Food values, the wines with the sense of place.

For the second year in the row, I had a pleasure of attending combined VinItaly and Slow Wine event in New York city (here is the link to the post about last year’s event). This year, the pleasure was also greatly enhanced by the fact that I was joined by Oliver (the winegetter), his wife Nina and Stefano (Clicks & Corks) – as you can imagine, everything is better in a great company.

In addition to all of the wines being available for the walk around tasting, VinItaly also brought a great educational program to this year’s event. This educational program, consisting of the multiple seminars presented during the day, was part of the new VinItaly’s initiative, called Vinitaly International Academy (VIA). I talked to Stevie Kim, Managing Director of the VinItaly International, who explained that this new VIA program will offer both educational seminars (called Masterclass) on various Italian regions and wines, as well as unique tasting opportunities, such as for instance, a tasting of the vertical of Sassicaia – I really hope my invitation to such a Masterclass will not get lost in the mail. Dr. Ian D’Agata, a researcher, journalist and an author of a number of books about Italian wines, was appointed as the Scientific Director of VIA, and he was teaching a number of masterclasses presented at New York’s event. I was lucky enough to attend most of the Masterclasses offered during the VinItaly event – I will have separate posts for those, as subjects of Barolo Cannubi, Amarone and Franciacorta are well worth it.

Here is a small filmstip prepared by VinItaly with Stevie Kim and Ian D’Agata, explaining what the VIA is all about:

Via FilmstripBefore I will talk about some of the wine highlights from the event, I want to share some of the interesting stats offered during the press conference. The data below present various numbers regarding wine imports into the US – if you are in love with numbers as much as I am, these are the interesting stats, all shared as part of the information package by VinItaly tour. These are the various import statistics as presented by the US Department of Commerce:

Imports to US Jan - Sep 2013

Imports to US Jan – Sep 2013

Compare the data above with this one - Imports to Canada Jan - Sep 2013

Compare the data above with this one – Imports to Canada Jan – Sep 2013

Imports to US 2007- 2012 year over year data

Imports to US 2007- 2012 year over year data

Imports to US 2007- 2012 Still Wines

Imports to US 2007- 2012 Still Wines

Imports to US 2007- 2012 Sparkling Wines

Imports to US 2007- 2012 Sparkling Wines

I would assume you are sufficiently inundated by numbers, so let’s talk a bit about the wines before we round up this post.

With all the Masterclasses presented at VinItaly, this is where my focus really was – learning about and tasting lots of great wines, per-arranged by Ian D’Agata. I had about 2 hours of time on the tasting floor itself, primarily focused on giving a “rare varieties” whirlwind run tour to Nina. As usual, I took an extremely short notes and primarily used my trade show rating system of +. ++ and +++ (yes, with exceptions for ++-| and ++++). Below are some of the most memorable wines from that tasting:

2011 Aquila del Torre Riesling Friuli Venezia Giulia – +++ excellent

2010 Aquila del Torre Refosco Friuli Venezia Giulia – +++ clean, open

NV Brut Rosé Prima Nera Friuli Venezia Giulia – +++, very unusual sparkler made from the rare red grape called Schiopettino

2012 Cantine San Marco Romae Bianco, Lazio  – +++ clean, beautiful (this wine is made out of Malvasia del Lazio)

2012 Sant’Isidoro Colli Maceratesi Ribona Pausula,  Marche – ++-|, nice, good acidity (made out of rare grape Maceratino, which is a new grape for me!)

2010 G.D. Vajra Langhe Freisa Kyé, Piedmont – ++-|

Three great wines from Planeta (Planeta is a great producer from Sicily, and it rarely disappoints)

2011 Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico Dorilli , Sicily – +++. beautiful complexity

2008 Planeta Noto Nero d’Avola Santa Cecilia, Sicily – +++ power!

2012 Planeta Sicilia Fiano Cometa, Sicily – +++

2012 La Parrina Vermentino, Tuscany – +++

Montenidoli Il Templare, Tuscany  – +++, good

And then one and only – Caberlot!

2010 Podere Il Carnasciale Caberlot, Tuscany – ++++ nose, complexity!

2009 Podere Il Carnasciale Caberlot, Tuscany – ++++ spices, amazing

2011 Podere Il Carnasciale Il Carnasciale, Tuscany – +++ (this is second label of Caberlot wines)

2010 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany – +++

2011 Leonido Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca, Veneto – +++ beautiful

2011 Leonido Pieropan Valpolicella Superiore Ruberpan, Veneto – +++

2010 Antonelli San Marco Montefalco Rosso, Umbria – +++

2009 Tabarrini Montefalco Sagrantino Colle Grimaldesco, Umbria – +++

2010 Tabarrini Montefalco Rosso, Umbria – +++

And that concludes my first report from the VinItaly 2014 event in New York city – more posts to come, so stay tuned… Cheers!

Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 3, Wine, And More Wine

February 19, 2013 14 comments

VinItaly and Slow Wine logoIn the first two posts I gave you some interesting stats and shared our experience with wine seminars at Vinitaly. Now, it is time to actually talk about wines.

Those of you who follow this blog for the while know by now that I mostly talk about wines with the pictures, adding a few words here and there, mostly of a very “excited” nature. If you are looking for the detailed report, I can give you two great references – blog posts by Stefano and John M. Fodera, both covering wines and wineries very extensively.

I have to thank Stefano again, as if it would not be for him, I would be pointlessly wondering from a table to a table, and surely would miss some of the gems. Stefano had a plan, and I gladly followed.

Again, if you are looking for systematic representation of wines, based on the regions and styles, [please refer to the two blog posts I mentioned above. I will just share my personal highlights. Oh, and one side note. It is so happened that I’m writing this last post about Vinitaly after attending another Italian wine event, Gambero Rosso’s Tri Bicchiery. While in general I had no complaints about organization of Vinitaly event, now I can also say that it was organized incomparably better that the Tri Bicchiery event – expect to hear my rant with the Tri Bicchiery post.

Enough words. Here are mostly pictures, with some comments, in the order of the regions appearing in the show guide.


Damilano Barolo

Damilano Barolo

Damilano presented two outstanding Barolos – 2008 Damilano Barolo Lecinquevigne was beautiful, round and easy to drink. 2008 Damilano Barolo Cannubi was exactly what classic Barolo is – powerful, dense, mouth-puckering, but very enjoyable at the same time.

G.D. Vajra presented 2008 G.D Vajra Barolo Bricco Delle Viole, very delicate wine for the Barolo style overall. The wine underwent a 40 days maceration (quite long) and was bottled in the summer of 2012.

Two beautiful wines from Elvio Cogno:

Elvio Cogno Nascetta

Elvio Cogno Nascetta

2011 Elvio Cogno Langhe Nascetta Anas-Cetta – bright white fruit on the nose, same on the palate, very balanced and refreshing.

Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera

Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera

2008 Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera – so far it seems that 2008 vintage of Barolo is great across the board and the wines are very approachable from the beginning – perfect taste profile of Barolo (plums, minerality, earthiness) with the shot of tannins in the finish.




I can’t tell you which of the two wines from Vis Amoris I liked more. 2011 Vis Amoris Rivera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Dome – beautiful, toned down fruit, soft and opulent, more in style of Rhone whites, very refreshing and balanced. 2011 Vis Amoris Rivera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Verum was a touch bigger and brighter, showing very soft tannins without being fermented in oak. Truly two wonderful white wines.


Ar Pe Pe Nebbiolo

Ar PePe Nebbiolo

Two excellent Nebbiolo-based wines from Ar.Pe.Pe2001 Ar Pe Pe Valtellina Superopre Sassella Rocce Rosse Riserva and 2005 Ar Pe Pe Valtellina Superopre Sassella Ultimi Raggi. The 2001 Riserva was one of the most delicate expressions of Nebbiolo I ever tasted, but it was perfectly balanced and very enjoyable.


Veneto = Amarone – okay, never mind, this is just my personal biased statement, Veneto is actually a home to many great wines outside of Amarone. But – once you taste Trabucchi wines, Amarone will be on your mind.

DSC_0102 Trabucchi

Trabucchi Valpolicella

While Trabucchi had only 2 wines listed in the book, they brought a substantial line of wines to the tasting. 2003 Trabucchi “Terre del Cereolo” Valpolicella Superiore DOC was probably the best Valpolicella I ever tasted – round, supple dark fruit expression, dark chocolate undertones, very balanced. 2007 Trabucchi d’Illasi Terra di San Colombano Valpolicella Superiore DOC, was very comparable, concentrated, round and again very balanced.

Trabucchi Amarone

Trabucchi Amarone

While 2004 Trabucchi Amarone della Valpolicella DOC and  2006 Trabucchi d’Illasi Amarone Della Valpolicella were very good, 2004 Trabucchi d’Illasi Amarone Della Valpolicella Cent’Anni was spectacular. Perfectly balanced, without any “over the top” fruit, showing dry fruit flavors on the nose, and showing full bodied, balanced and very polished wine on the palate. Definitely a highlight of the event.

Trabucchi Recioto and Dandarin

Trabucchi Recioto and Dandarin

2005 Trabucchi d’Illasi Dandarin Rosso Veneto IGT was quite unusual – a blend of traditional Valpolicella varieties Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella, with 30% of  Teroldego and Syrah – slightly different flavor profile compare to Amarone, but quite powerful and expressive. One of the true gems of the day was 2006 Trabucchi d’Illasi Recioto Della Valpolicella – grapes for this wine were dried for 6 month ( typical length of Appasimento process for Amarone wines is 110 –  120 days, i.e. up to 4 month). Tremendous concentration of the dried fruit ( figs, raisins), supported but vibrant acidity – you have to try this wine to believe it!

Before we leave Veneto, a quick stop in Soave, at Pieropan winery:

Pieropan Calvarino

Pieropan Calvarino

2010 Leonido Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino is a single vineyard blend of Garganega and Trebbiano – showing excellent minerality both on the nose and the palate, very round and refreshing.

Pieropan La Rocca

Pieropan La Rocca

2010 Leonido Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca is another single vineyard wine, 100% Garganega, showing more restrained fruit than the previous wine, as well as a touch of butter on the palate. Definitely a very nice wine.

Friuli Venezia Giulia

 Le Vigne Di Zamo

Le Vigne Di Zamo

Two beautiful wines from Le Vigne di Zamo in Friuli. 2010 Le Vigne di Zamo Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano Vigne Cinquant’Anni ( that was one long name) had perfect nose of raisins, and supple, round white fruit on the palate, medium body and balancing acidity. 2011 Le Vigne di Zamo Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Grigio was one of the best Pinot Grigio wines I tasted in a while ( yes, I don’t drink too many of them), with good fruit and touch of minerality.


Caberlot trilogy

Caberlot trilogy

Podere Il Carnasciale makes only about 3,200 bottles a year, all in the magnum size. All made out of the grape called Caberlot, which is an officially recognized hybrid of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. All Magnums. And all magnificent. We tasted 2009, 2008 and 2004 vintages of Podere Il Carnasciale Caberlot – both 2009 and 2008 were somewhat similar, showing perfect trait of Cabernet Franc green profile with fresh raspberries. And 2002 was whole another story:

Caberlot 2002

Caberlot 2002

Take a look at the number at the bottom of the label – we were drinking the bottle number 4! Tobacco, pepper, dark fruit and perfect complexity – a Wow wine without any doubts. I wish the wines would be a bit more affordable… May be someone wants to get me a present?


Tabarrini Montefaloc Sagrantino

Tabarrini Montefaloc Sagrantino

We tasted two great wines from Tabarrini (yes, I know, I’m abusing “great” and “beautiful” in this post – but hey, these are the highlights – if I don’t think the wine was great, I’m not going to bother you with the detail…). 2010 Tabarrini Adarmando is made out of Trebbiano Spoletino, which is very different from the Trebbiano di Soave – Trebbiano Spoletino grows in the huge vines and it is a very late ripening variety (beginning of November). The wine had perfect acidity and bright fruit, somewhat of a citrus profile – very enjoyable. Next we tried 2008 Tabarrini Sagrantino di Montefalco  Campo Alla Cerqua – perfect power, dark fruit, very balanced.


Villa Bucci

Villa Bucci

There were quite a few very good wines coming from Marche. 2010 Marotti Campi Lacrima di Morro D’Alba Superiore Orginolo was excellent, very open and food frendly ( or shall we say, food-craving), with very subtle warm fruit nuances. 2009 Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Lastelli di Jesi Classico Riserva had perfect fruit on the nose and it was very light and refreshing. 2009 Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Lastelli di Jesi Superiore had very good depth and clear fruit expression. Both Villa Bucci wines are expected to age very well. 


Frascati Girl

Frascati Girl

First, we found a very friendly girl.

Frascati Racemo

Frascati Racemo

Then we found an excellent white wine 2011 L’Olivella Frascati Superiore Racemo. This wine is a blend of malvasia puntinata, malvasia del Lazio, malvasia di Candia, tgrebbiano and bellone – the wine was very round, with excellent acidity and white fruit.


Donna Greto Pecorino

Donna Greto Pecorino

2010 Cantina Frentana Pecorino Donna Greta is 100% Pecorino. Very long maceration ( 8 month) allows to achieve a very nice complexity. White fruit, touch of minerality, good balance.



Planeta wines

Planeta wines

Last, but not least for this post – Planeta from Sicilia, one of the best Italian producers overall. 2010 Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico Dorilli – beautiful nose, fresh fruit, strawberries on the nose and the palate. 2011 Planeta La Segreta had very nice nose of dark fruit, and perfect dark fruit expression on the palate. 2008 Planeta Santa Cecilia was soft and approachable, with nice soft fruit.

Aren’t you tired yet to look at all these pictures and enjoy all those wines vicariously? There were lots more of excellent wines presented at the event – but we have to call it a post. That’s all I have for my Vinitaly and Slow Wine report, hope you got the idea of what was happening at the event. The next event post I will be writing about Gambero Rosso, and I believe it will be even more difficult that this one. Until that time – cheers!

Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 2, Wine Seminars

February 15, 2013 12 comments

VinItaly and Slow Wine logoThis 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 Valtellina 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:


Just look at this bottle...

Just look at this bottle… Unfortunately, the wine was oxidized. But the bottle was way too cool.

No tickets, but hey, who need tickets when it is first come first serve...

No tickets, but hey, who need tickets when it is first come first serve…

Casimiro Maule, Oenologist at Nino Negri, presents the wines.

Casimiro Maule, Oenologist at Nino Negri, presents the wines. In 2007, he was awarded the title of “Winemaker of the Year” by Gambero Rosso

Nino Negri winery started in 1897 in the Valtellina 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.

Just look at the beautiful color

Just look at the beautiful color

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):

DSC_0189 Volcanic Soils Map

Map of Italy’s Volcanic Wines

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.

DSC_0131 Volcanic Wines tasting

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!

Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 1, Just Some Numbers

February 11, 2013 20 comments

VinItaly and Slow Wine logoFor anyone who is into wine (oenophile, aficionado, snob, add here any moniker you like), learning more about their favorite subject becomes an object of insatiable desire, an obsession, if you will (of course I’m not hinting at any “wine exclusivity” here – feel free to substitute wine with any passion you have in life). Learning about the wine is long, tedious and super-expensive process – just reading and talking about the wine is not enough, you actually have to deep your tongue into one occasionally, and this is where your passion gets you. Thus in my opinion, nothing represents more valuable learning opportunity than a wine tasting or a professional wine show – you get to learn, experience and talk to the people who are equally passionate about your favorite subject.

There are many great wine shows all over the world, and the good news is that more of those wine shows come to US. Thus when I read Stefano’s note in the Flora’s Table blog that Vinitaly is coming to New York, I got very excited. Vinitaly is the biggest wine show in the world – definitely when it takes place in Verona, Italy (last year’s stats – 4 days, 4,000 wineries, 140,000 visitors), so you can understand my excitement. Luckily, it was much smaller event than the one in Verona, but still sufficiently overwhelming. To add to that excitement, Vinitaly joined forces with Slow Wine, which is a part of Slow Food movement, promoting true food and wine appreciation all over the world. To give you a very short summary – yeah, there was a lot of wine.

DSC_0061 Stemmari Mezzacorona

Before the tasting started, there was a presentation by John Gillespie, President of Wine Market Council, about state of US wine market according to 2012 consumer survey. While I was unable to capture the graphics, I did manage to capture some numbers. And while there are lies, damn lies and statistics, I want to share some of the numbers with you – whether they are right or wrong, it is still fun to process them. And to make it more fun, I will add pictures of wines, most of which I didn’t taste during the event (I will talk about those we tasted in the next post).

Here we go. Out of 228M adults living in US, 100m drink wine, 50m drink beer and spirits only, and 78M abstain (mind boggling – how can they live with themselves?). If you think about it, there are more wine drinkers in US than overall population of many wine drinking and wine producing countries ( we certainly beat Germany, France and may others).

DSC_0064 Feuda Arancio

Somehow music written on the label strikes the cord. I wonder if it can be played?

There were estimated 295 million cases of wine consumed in US in 2012, and 2011 number was  287M cases. Overall, there are 19 consecutive years of growth in wine consumption in US so far. US drinkers consumes more than 3 gallons of wine per adult.

Core wine drinkers (those who drink wine at least once a week) represent 25% of population, and 22%  are non-core. Out of those core drinkers, 11% drink the wine daily, and 28% are weekly.

DSC_0069 Villa Bucci

Out of the all wine drinkers, 51% are females, 49% are  males.

Categorizing further, 40% are baby boomers, 20%  gen X and Millenials represent 28%.

Next series of stats covers international wines – don’t forget, it was the presentation during Vinitaly, so wine imports definitely were of a major interest. For this imported wine survey, there were 1000 responders, 54% of them baby boomers, 52% male, 48%  female.

In consumer panel, 34% were daily wine drinkers, and 52% were weekly.

In the imported wine category, France leads white wine purchases, and Italy leads red wine purchases.

DSC_0067 Menegolli

Italy, France and Australia wines are most popular in the stores – promoted and marketed.

France, Spain and Italy are on top in degree of satisfaction from the wine purchased, and Spain and Italy lead satisfaction in under $20 category.

In the likelihood of having wine on hand in many different price and type categories, Italy is trailing California (but the gap is substantial).

DSC_0077 Cesari

Here are few more numbers, now based on US wine trade survey.

There were 400 respondents, with the same age category distribution as in Consumer Survey. France, Germany and Spain are the leading three in under $20 white or rose. Spain, France and Italy are leading in red under $20 category. France, Spain, Italy are leading in reds $20-$50.

Spain, California and then Italy are leading in recommended wines under $20 (Spain has a big lead). In $20-$50 category, France and Italy lead recommended wines group, then California and Spain is quite a bit behind.

Overall imported wines consumption in US hovers around 30%.

DSC_0078 Carpineto

I don’t know what you think about all these numbers, but many of them make perfect sense to me, like Spain being in the lead in under $20 red wine category – I personally would look at Spanish red wines before I will look at anything else, if I’m looking for inexpensive wine.

DSC_0065 Arancio Red

More wine and music

For what it’s worth, I would like to leave you for today with those numbers – and we will talk about wines in the next post. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Random Vine Happenings and more

January 9, 2013 4 comments

First Meritage Time of the 2013!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #42, Common Traits. In that quiz, you were supposed to identify what can be common between five different wines and/or wineries. I’m happy to report that we have two winners – both vinoinlove and thedrunkencyclist correctly pointed out to the fact that all of those wines use Merlot either as the only or very major component. I also have to note that I’m very impressed with the excellent in-depth analysis conducted by VinoinLove (you can see it in the comments section of the quiz post). As usual, both winners get unlimited bragging rights as their prize.

And now, to the news! Looks like that Natalie MacLean scandal (stealing of the wine reviews etc.) keeps reverberating throughout the blogosphere – here are two recent blog posts on the subject – one from Joe Roberts (a.k.a. 1WineDude), and another one is from Chris Kassel of Intoxicology Report. Both posts are great and if you didn’t read them yet, you really should.

Next, I want to bring to your attention an event coming up in about two weeks in New York. Stefano from Flora’s Table blog posted about Vinitaly International and Slow Wine 2013 taking place in New York city on January 28th. Please check Stefano’s blog post for more information about those events.

Last but not least I want to mention an interesting post by Mike Veseth from Wine Economist blog. This blog post is talking about choice of wine available to today’s wine consumer, who makes those wines and where the wines are coming from. The post is a bit technical, so you will need to pay attention while reading it. That blog post also features a “wine universe” picture you can play with (zoom in, zoom out) – definitely very interesting to see.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. The glass is empty. Until the next time – Cheers!


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