As mentioned on a previous post, Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2013 was held in New York on January 28 and I have had the opportunity to attend, with the added bonus of meeting in person Anatoli, the author of the excellent wine blog Talk-A-Vino, and doing the walk around together. Anatoli is a remarkable man with a deep and broad knowledge of wines of the world and it has been a real pleasure spending a day together enjoying the fair, sampling many good Italian wines and comparing notes. If you have never visited Anatoli’s blog, please make sure to make time to check it out and explore the wealth of quality information regarding wines and spirits that he has amassed there because it is really impressive. Also, if you are interested in reading more about this event from a different angle than mine, check out Anatoli’s three-post series on it: Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 1, Just Some Numbers, Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 2, Wine Seminars and Vinitaly and Slow Wine Tastings – Part 3, Wine, And More Wine.
So, you may be wondering, how was it after all? Let’s cut to the chase: I very much enjoyed my visit at Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2013 and I found the event to be well organized, with one very annoying exception that is the organization of the restricted-seating seminars focusing on specific wines.
According to the organizers’ Web site, one should have pre-registered on-line for every seminar he or she would be interested in and, provided that at the time of registration there were still seats available, a ticket would be issued to show at the entrance. Both Anatoli and I followed this process and successfully registered for two seminars, obtaining the respective admission tickets. Problem is that when we showed up with our tickets at the first seminar the person at the door tried to deny us access on the theory that the event was first come first served. This happened to a number of other people who had registered online and were being denied access as well. So, we got annoyed, pointed out the evident flaw in their system and eventually were let in, but the whole organization of the seminar was a huge flop.
Having said that, let’s take a quick look at some basic information about the event itself: the exhibitors’ area was divided into two zones: the larger one had tasting stations for the 78 wineries that were part of the Slow Wine portion of the event, while a smaller area was devoted to the Vinitaly part of the event with larger tables for 40 additional wineries as well as the representatives of 11 U.S. importers who had brought with them a selection of wines from 46 wineries that they represent. In both sections of the event many flagship bottles of the various represented wineries were available for tasting, generally coupled with a “second vin” and/or an “entry-level” wine. This worked out pretty well because in many cases it illustrated the various lines made by a certain winery and oftentimes showcased the very good quality/price ratio of certain second vins or entry-level wines even compared to the top-of-the-line wine(s) from the same producer.
Among the many very good wines that we got to sample at the fair during our wine tasting “marathon” (along with a few not-so-very-good ones), these are my personal top of the crop:
- Vajra, Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2008: this was my favorite Barolo among those I tried at the event. Super elegant, seducing aromas of lush red fruit and spices, with silky smooth tannins despite being still pretty young, and a very long finish. Spectacular.
- Elvio Cogno, Barolo Ravera 2008: my second best among the Barolo’s: very different from Vajra’s, with a nice bouquet of red fruit, floral hints and tobacco; distinct but smooth tannins and plenty of structure. Very good.
- Damilano, Barolo Cannubi 2008: third step of my personal podium for Barolo’s – complex in the nose with red fruit, spices and hints of soil, well defined tannins which can benefit from a few more years of aging and quite long finish. Very good.
- VisAmoris, Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Verum 2011: without a doubt the best Pigato I have ever tasted so far – it undergoes a short phase of maceration on the skins in order to maximize the extraction of the aromas, which results in an intense and seducing bouquet of apple and herbs and a good balance in the mouth between its acidity and minerality on the one hand and its smoothness on the other. Very, very good.
- Ca’ del Bosco, Franciacorta Cuvee’ Annamaria Clementi 2004: there is only one word for this Classic Method spumante – wow! Seven years on its lees for a wine that is sleek, elegant, refined, with a wonderful superfine perlage, a complex bouquet alluding to several fascinating aromas, like peach, honey, croissant, hazelnut, minerals, and a very long finish. Spectacular – the only problem is… its price tag!
- Ar.Pe.Pe., Valtellina Superiore Sassella Rocce Rosse Riserva 2001: together with Fay (who was not present at the event) this is one of my favorite producers of Valtellina Superiore (a varietal wine made of 100% Nebbiolo grapes, locally known as Chiavennasca), and the Rocce Rosse was outastanding, with fine aromas of cherries, spices and tobacco, very smooth tannins and good structure with a long finish. Very, very good.
- Trabucchi D’Illasi, Recioto della Valpolicella 2006: oh man, this is a truly outstanding sweet red wine made from the same base grapes of Amarone (Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella), perfect to be paired with chocolate or chocolate-based desserts – exquisite and intense bouquet of black fruit, black berries, licorice and vanilla, with a wonderful balance between sweetness and smooth tannins and a very long, seducing finish. Spectacular.
- Trabucchi D’Illasi, Amarone della Valpolicella Cent’Anni Riserva 2004: outstanding Amarone, with a superb bouquet of red flowers, wild cherries, plum, spices and dark chocolate; in the mouth it is warm and balanced with a great smoothness complementing good acidity and noticeable but smooth tannins, and a long finish. Spectacular.
- Pieropan, Soave Classico Calvarino 2010: a very good Soave made of a blend of Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave grapes which literally hits you in the nose with an exhuberant minerality and aromas of apple, citrus and white flowers; in the mouth a lively acidity and distinct minerality are balanced by a good extent of smoothness. Very good.
(E) FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
- Le Vigne di Zamo’, Colli Orientali del Friuli Friulano Vigne Cinquant’anni 2010: wonderful Friulano with a pleasant and intense bouquet of citrus, apple, tropical fruit and minerals. In the mouth noticeable acidity and minerality countered by good smoothness. Spectacular.
- Podere Il Carnasciale, Caberlot 2002: first off, a note of gratitude to fellow blogger and wine connoisseur Laissez Fare who introduced me to the fascinating world of Caberlot. Regarding our tasting, actually the good people of Il Carnasciale made available a vertical tasting of Caberlot from vintages 2009, 2008 and 2002 – all were very good, but to me 2002 was truly outstanding, which should not come as a surprise for a wine that needs aging to be at its best (incidentally, Caberlot is not only the name of the wine, but also that of the grape, a rare cross between Cabernet Franc and Merlot). The wine offered a wonderful bouquet with aromas of berries, spices, soil, tobacco and dark chocolate, silky smooth tannins in the mouth, plenty of structure and a long finish. Caberlot is only available in magnum format, in an extremely limited production and for a hefty price tag. Spectacular.
- Tabarrini, Adarmando 2010: an excellent white wine 100% made out of Trebbiano Spoletino grapes, with a pleasant floral and fruity bouquet, with aromas of citrus and peach, good acidity and structure. Very good.
- Tabarrini, Sagrantino di Montefalco Campo alla Cerqua 2008: intense aromas of red flowers, ripe plums, black pepper and licorice, noticeable tannins in the mouth that will benefit from more years of aging in the bottle and plenty of structure, with a long finish. Very good.
- Arnaldo Caprai, Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni 2007: my personal favorite interpretation of Sagrantino, with a complex bouquet of cherries, spices, dark chocolate and tobacco and then the quintessential sensory definition of the astringent mouth feel of tannins, with plenty of tannins that are not harsh but will be smoother with a few more years of aging and a very good smoothness to counterbalance them, and a long finish. Very, very good.
- Marotti Campi, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Salmariano 2009: nice bouquet of white flowers, peach, citrus and minerals; good acidity and a quite long finish. Very good.
- Cantina Frentana, Pecorino Donna Greta 2010: a very good wine made of a blend of indigenous white-berried Pecorino grapes and Chardonnay grapes, with aromas of white flowers, citrus and vanilla, lively acidity balanced by a good smoothness, and a quite long finish. Very good.
- Cantine del Notaio, Aglianico del Vulture Il Sigillo 2008: a wonderful Aglianico del Vulture, with a complex bouquet of plum, black berries, dark chocolate and tobacco; plenty of structure in the mouth, with smooth tannins countered by good smoothness, and a long finish. Very, very good – in my view with a couple more years in the bottle it may become spectacular.
- Planeta, Noto Nero d’Avola Santa Cecilia 2008: if you have been following this blog for a while you know I love this winery, and the Santa Cecilia is one of my favorite red wines in their lineup – with fine aromas of ripe red fruit, plum, wild berries, dark chocolate, licorice and soil; in the mouth smooth tannins balanced by good smoothness and plenty of structure. Very, very good.
- Planeta, Carricante 2011: very good white wine made out of 100% indigenous Carricante grapes, with an elegant bouquet of apple, citrus, honey and minerals; good acidity and noticeable minerality in the mouth balanced out by a good extent of smoothness. Very, very good.
Finally, one last note on my favorite seminar of the event: the Nino Negri Master Class, a vertical tasting of six vintages (2009, 2007, 2004, 2002, 2001 and 1997) of Nino Negri’s flagship wine, the Sforzato della Valtellina 5 Stelle Sfursat, a 100% Nebbiolo (AKA Chiavennasca) dry red wine from the mountainous region of Valtellina in Lombardia, made after a 3-month drying process of the grapes in small crates in ventilated premises to concentrate sugar and aromas due to the evaporation of the water present in the grapes, which leads to a 30% weight loss in the berries. This results in an extraordinary wine with plenty of structure and a jaw-dropping 15 to 16 degree ABV after regular alcoholic fermentation.
To me, the best vintage among those presented in the vertical tasting was 2001, a garnet red wine with hints of orange, with a phenomenal bouquet of ripe red fruit, spirited fruit, dark chocolate, resin, minerals, graphite. In the mouth, obviously warm, with very good smoothness balanced out by silky tannins, and finished off by plenty of structure and an endless finish. Spectacular.
Phew, that’s all! Apologies for the long post, but I hope it will tempt you to try out for yourselves some of these awesome wines. If you do, let me know how you like them.