For ten days mid-February, wine critics from around the world descend upon Florence and then stride out to Montepulciano, San Gimignano and Montalcino in what is likely the most concentrated en primeur in Europe.
The major wine consortia, like Chianti Classico, have been holding wine previews, where winemakers present the most recent vintage permitted by each area’s regulations, for some 25 years. Since 2014, the Tuscan Region has been involved in uniting the goals of the consortia (there are 23) under the umbrella of Anteprime di Toscana, encouraging more consortia to participate and ensuring convenient consecutive dates. It also supports the smaller organizations through PrimAnteprima, a combined event that kicks off wine preview week.
The Anteprime are “next season’s fashion show for wine,” Gennaro Giliberti, executive at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained to me. “We concentrate our efforts, making it convenient for visitors and attracting journalists, trade and also the general public from afar, with the great advantage of being held in Tuscany, rather than presenting the vintages in various locations abroad.”
Filippo Bartolotta, a wine educator and sommelier agrees, adding that he can’t think of any other region that reunites so many wine zones in such a concentrated manner. “Even after 20 years of experience professionally tasting wine, having everything back to back provides a very clear picture of how the different vintages behave in the different appellations. Not to mention that it’s a phenomenal networking party!”
For Swedish journalist Åsa Johansson, who resides in Florence, the Anteprime “create a historical library of the different vintages of Tuscan wines.” She adds that she appreciated how journalists with more experience shared their knowledge with her when she was new to Tuscan wine, and she hopes to do the same for younger colleagues.” Which is certainly a bonus for 24-year-old Elba native Stefano Quaglierini, an Instagram influencer known as @italian_wines, who says he looks forward to networking with both winemakers and critics just as much as to tasting the latest vintages.
What about the winemakers who spend back-to-back days at their booth? Jacopo Di Battista, owner of Querceto di Castellina, points out that “it’s a chance to catch up with fellow producers… we spend a lot of time in our own worlds so I value the collaborative nature of Chianti Classico Collection, an event that brings us all together to showcase this iconic wine.”
Hayo Loacker, enologist at Loacker Wine Estates including Corte Pavone in Montalcino, says Benvenuto Brunello is a great platform to present his wines, but that he particularly enjoys “seeing the glow in the eyes of my winemaker colleagues when they pour that first glass of the new vintage and observe the tasting and reaction. It’s the moment you understand how proud they are of their product, independently of press rumours or any gossip.”
The 2020 Anteprime start with PrimAnteprima in Florence on February 15 and close with Benvenuto Brunello in Montalcino on February 24. Select dates of each event are open to the public – for a full schedule see www.anteprimetoscane.it and purchase advance tickets from the individual consortia.