Held in Verona every April, Vinitaly provides insight into Italy’s wine industry’s reaction to trends and challenges, both local and global. Although the cost of raw materials continues to spiral and concerns surround international trade, the mood in the pavilions remained upbeat with a drive to celebrate all the nuances of vino.
Hot on the heels of the Anteprime di Toscana wine previews in February, Tuscany was doing its usual roaring business at the stands. Ruffino’s ultra-glam, two-tier stand with a chandelier at the core welcomed an array of international buyers and press interested in discussing its latest 15-hectare acquisition in Bolgheri, among other things, while Ricasoli 1141 greeted wine merchants from around the world intrigued by Francesco Ricasoli’s years of soil research, which have resulted in four Gran Selezione wines that display the terroir of the sprawling Brolio estate, varying from Pliocene marine deposits to silty Pliocene-Pleistocene river beds. In terms of educational moments, Italian native grape expert Ian D’Agata led a preview of 2019 Terra Electae wines, all single vineyard riserva wines from Chianti Rùfina, Filippo Bartolotta helmed a vertical tasting of Montecucco wines to mark the 25th anniversary of the DOC appellation between Grosseto and Montepulciano, and Italy’s only Master of Wine, Gabriele Gorelli, headed up a Brunello di Montalcino ten-year challenge, looking back and forward at Tuscany’s world-famous wine.
What’s special about Vinitaly is the potential to be thrown out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Coldiretti’s Italian native varieties tasting always offers surprises as a lineup of small producers introduce their take on often little-known grapes internationally. From a still Durello wine made in the Monte Lessini hills in Veneto to an orange wine take on Albana di Romagna, much was learned by buyers and press alike. Equally mind-bending is the Micro Mega Wines section, in which really tiny winemakers are given the opportunity to present their bottlings to wine professionals. 25-year-old Cristofer Di Ruzza of Il Casale della Regina makes a red and white from truly niche varieties like Maturano, Capolungo and Lecinaro in Lazio, accompanied by local cheeses. Meanwhile, over in Piedmont, we tasted indigenous grape Pelaverga made in steel by renowned Barolo winery Diego Morra in the village of Verduno. Rare and pale, this unique grape yields a light strawberry-scented wine.