The Best of Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2014 NYC

On February 3 I went to the 2014 Vinitaly International / Slow Wine event that was held in New York City, where Slow Food Editore (the publisher of the Slow Wine Guide, a guide in English to Italian wines) and Vinitaly (the largest Italian wine fair in the world) once again joined forces and brought together a number of quality Italian wine producers in the two sections of the fair, the one managed by Vinitaly International and the one managed by the Slow Wine organization. Another cool feature of the event, beside the tasting stations of the various producers, was a series of limited admission master classes dedicated to certain specific top Italian wines and organized by the Vinitaly International Academy.

Should you wish to read my impressions and tasting notes of the 2013 edition of the event, check out my wrap up post from last year.

This year, I was fortunate enough to go to the event with fellow bloggers and good friends Anatoli (AKA Talk-A-Vino) and Oliver (AKA The Winegetter): I had a great time in their wonderful and knowledgeable company (a special mention goes to Oliver who flew in from Michigan for us to hit the City together!) You can read their takes on the event directly on Anatoli’s and Oliver’s blogs. I have not yet read their accounts of our foray into Italian wine territory myself because I did not want to be influenced by their own experiences, but I will rectify that shortly now that I finally got this post out! :-)

A few numbers: this year there were 69 producers represented in the Vinitaly International portion of the event (down from the 86 that there were last year) and 70 in the Slow Wine portion (down from 78 last year). The Vinitaly International Academy offered three master classes, each one focusing on a different Italian top wine: Barolo CannubiFranciacorta sparkling wine; and Amarone. I was able to attend the Franciacorta and the Amarone seminars.

The event was well organized except for two aspects:

  1. Personally, I would find it much preferable if the tasting tables of the various producers were organized by region instead of by distributor or according to an apparently random order, which makes it more difficult to focus on the wineries that one is mostly interested in; and
  2. For some inexplicable reason, in the master classes that I attended the wines in the glasses on each desk followed an order that was different from that of the tasting note sheet that was given to the participants such that, for instance, wine number 1 on the sheet corresponded to glass number 7, wine number 2 to glass number 10, and so on: just a big, awkward mess.

Anyway, below are my personal highlights of the day, the wines that I liked best from both the master classes and the walk around on the tasting floor, together with the short tasting notes that I could jot down while I was tasting. For ease of reference, I grouped my personal favorites by region, from north to south – enjoy the virtual tasting!

(A) Friuli

1. Ronco del Gelso, Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Sauvignon “Sottomonte” 2012 (white): a wonderful varietal bouquet of asparagus, tomato leaf, boxwood, typical cat pee(!), nettle and minerals, combined with fresh acidity: Spectacular Spectacular 

2. Le Vigne di Zamò, Colli Orientali del Friuli Rosazzo Pignolo 2007 (red): a kaleidoscopic nose of juniper, wild berries, plum, blackberry jam, cocoa, freshly ground coffee and minerals, complementing a structured and smooth wine: Very Good Very Good

(B) Piemonte

1. Borgogno, Barolo Riserva 2006 (red): from 40 year old vines, with great aromas of tobacco, cocoa, herbs and plum; structured, with already well controlled tannins and a long finish – ready to be enjoyed now or even better cellared for several years to be wowed even more later: Spectacular Spectacular

2. Damilano, Barolo “Cerequio” 2009 (red): a solid Barolo with a good quality to price ratio; it sported aromas of plum, violet and licorice, enhancing a structured and already smooth wine: Very Good Very Good

3. Vajra, Barolo “Bricco delle Viole” 2009 (red): one of my favorite Barolo’s, with a sensuous nose of violet, plum, carnation, raspberry jam, tobacco and cocoa going hand in hand with a structured, elegant, smooth wine, with astringent but well controlled tannins and a long finish: Spectacular Spectacular

4. Vajra, Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2010 (red): a great Barbera with fine aromas of rose, blackberry, dark cherry and licorice; structured and smooth: Very Good Very Good

(C) Lombardia

1. Bellavista, Franciacorta Gran Cuvée 2007: a very good Classic Method white sparkling wine with extremely fine bubbles and pleasant aromas of citrus, apple, pastry, white flowers and roasted hazelnut, a zippy acidity and pleasant minerality: Very Good Very Good

2. Contadi Castaldi, Franciacorta Satèn 2008: a solid Classic Method white sparkling wine with a fine perlage, a crisp personality and aromas of roasted hazelnut, toast, croissant, chestnut honey and pineapple: Very Good Very Good

3. Enrico Gatti, Franciacorta Brut 2007: another quality Classic Method white sparkling wine with a fine bouquet of peach, citrus, herbs, pastry and intense mineral hints: Good to Very Good Good to Very Good

4. Ca’ del Bosco, Franciacorta Cuvée Prestige S.A.: Ca’ del Bosco’s entry-level Classic Method white sparkling wine never disappoints, sporting aromas of apple, croissant, yeast, roasted hazelnut and a slightly briny touch: needless to say, the Annamaria Clementi is not (to know more, just wait for my overview of the 2014 Gambero Rosso event!) but certainly Good Good

(D) Veneto

1. Pieropan, Soave Classico “La Rocca” 2011 (white): a great white wine with aromas of Golden apple, vanilla, peach, almond and minerals, with a crisp acidity that counterbalances the wine’s smoothness and a long finish: Outstanding Outstanding

2. Brigaldara, Amarone della Valpolicella “Case Vecie” 2008 (red): one word - wow! A gorgeous, garnet red Amarone with intense aromas of black cherry candy, roses, cigar box, ground coffee and minerals – an imposing structure which however has masterfully metabolized its impressive 16.5% ABV and kept its significant tannins perfectly at bay, delivering a masterfully balanced wine which is a true pleasure both for the nose and for the mouth: Spectacular Spectacular

3. Masi, Amarone della Valpolicella “Costasera” 2009 (red): a great rendition of the Costasera, with an intense bouquet of spirited cherries, raspberry candy, dark chocolate, coffee, licorice and balsamic hints, perfectly integrated ABV and smooth tannins: Outstanding Outstanding

4. Musella, Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2008 (red): intense and peculiar aromas of menthol, rhubarb, licorice, spirited cherries and camphor in a pleasant Amarone with well integrated 16.5% ABV and tannins: Very Good Very Good

5. Zenato, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 (red): pleasant aromas of spirited blueberries, black cherry jam, cigar box, cocoa, black pepper and hints of licorice complement a very smooth wine, with well integrated ABV and a pleasant fruity feel in the mouth: Very Good Very Good

(E) Toscana

1. Castello di Monsanto, Chianti Classico Riserva “Il Poggio” 2009 (red): a solid single vineyard high-quality Chianti, with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, herbs, leather and black pepper, a good structure and supple tannins: Very Good Very Good

2. Podere Il Carnasciale, Caberlot 2010 (red): Caberlot (available in just 2,500 magnum-sized bottles a year) never stops wowing me – if only it were a tad more accessible… An intense, multi-layered, complex bouquet of blackberry, wild berries, tobacco, licorice, raspberry, black pepper, cocoa complements a wine that packs enough structure and acidity, coupled with silky smooth tannins and a long finish, for it to age for many years and impress even more: Spectacular Spectacular

(F) Marche

1. De Angelis, Anghelos 2011 (Montepulciano-based red blend): pleasant and intense aromas of plum, black cherry, tobacco and cocoa in a full-bodied wine with well integrated tannins: Good to Very Good Good to Very Good

2. Marotti Campi, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva Classico “Salmariano” 2010 (white): elegant aromas of peach, apricot, juicy golden apple and vanilla complete a great white wine with good acidity, smooth and a very long finish: Outstanding Outstanding

3. Marotti Campi, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore “Orgiolo” 2011 (red): appealing and peculiar aromas of juniper, wild berries, wet soil, raspberry; structured and well balanced: Very Good Very Good

4. Velenosi, Offida Rosso “Ludi” 2009 (Montepulciano-based red blend): aromas of spirited cherries, raspberry, licorice, dark chocolate and balsamic hints in a full-bodied red with gentle tannins: Good to Very Good Good to Very Good

(G) Umbria

1. Tabarrini, Adarmando 2011 (Trebbiano Spoletino-based white wine): a great, structured white wine with aromas of citrus, tangerine, herbs and minerals: Very Good Very Good

2. Tabarrini, Sagrantino di Montefalco “Campo alla Cerqua” 2009: one of two wonderful single-vineyard Sagrantino’s made by Tabarrini (the other one being the “Colle alle Macchie“) – this one is sure to impress, with a bouquet of violet, plum jam, licorice, dark chocolate and black pepper, complementing a full-bodied wine with plenty of structure and robust and yet supple tannins along with a long finish, a wine that will evolve and become even better with a few more years of cellaring: Outstanding Outstanding

(H) Basilicata

1. Cantine del Notaio, Aglianico del Vulture “La Firma” 2010 (red): aromas of cherry jam, tobacco, licorice, leather and herbs – full bodied, smooth, round, with well integrated tannins: Very Good Very Good

(I) Sicilia

1. Planeta, Noto Nero d’Avola “Santa Cecilia” 2008 (red): one of my favorite Nero d’Avola’s, with aromas of cherry, raspberry candy, licorice, cocoa, rhubarb and mineral hints; full-bodied, smooth and with supple tannins: Very Good Very Good

2. Planeta, Sicilia Fiano “Cometa” 2012 (white): yet another memorable vintage for this wonderful Fiano, exuding appealing aromas of peach, apricot, pineapple, citrus, herbs and minerals; structured, with a perfect balance between smoothness and acidity, and a long finish: Spectacular Spectacular

About Stefano

I am a photographer and an ISA certified sommelier. I contribute to two blogs, Flora's Table (the fine cooking and wine blog - www.florastable.com) and Clicks & Corks (my photography and wine blog - www.clicksandcorks.com). My photography Web site is at www.StefanoCrosio.com
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25 Responses to The Best of Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2014 NYC

  1. Do you have a notebook that you take with you? I am interested to know how you keep your thoughts? In my mind I have you carrying around a very expensive leather book which you write in out of view from everyone else!! leaving them wondering what you have written.

    • Dina says:

      :-) :-) This charming comment made me laugh out real loud! :-)
      Great!
      Love, Dina xo

    • Stefano says:

      Maria and Ladies, thanks for your comments and apologies for the much belated replies. Ha! I can assure you, nothing fancy at all – fortunately the organizers print and distribute to all participants booklets with the names of all participating wineries and the wines available for tasting. I use those booklets to frantically scribble my tasting notes as I go. I wish I could show you the conditions those booklets are in at the end of each fair: there’s wine stains all over them! :-) I do however leave them wondering what I have written! :-D

  2. I was waiting for your notes from Vintaly, I do love reading the reviews, I learn a lot. I honestly don’t know how you keep track of everything, it must be like a whirlwind and you are so organized and your notes so detailed and just perfect. One day I would like to follow you at one of these events just to learn.

    • Stefano says:

      Thank you, Suzanne: a whirlwind is just the perfect descriptor for any such fair! Regarding how I keep track of things, please see the answer to Maria’s comment above. You should definitely join us at some of those fairs: it is a lot of work, but also great fun – plus you get to taste some really great wines. :-)

  3. Dina says:

    Wow, my dearest ones,
    I’ll go to bed tonight and then I’ll have a dream (you can order your dreams by your personal dream creator ;-)) about receiving all this VERY GOOD and VERY, VERY GOOD and EXCELLENT wines in a beautiful wooden box addressed to Dina and all her friends. Then I’ll get the glasses out and all of you wonderful people in the blogosphere on this side of the great pond are my guests and we taste and try and laugh and shout out “cheers – to Francesca and Stefano for giving us so much joy and happiness and educating us in the finest way, with so much style”.
    Excellent, very enjoyable reading, even if it was dry, sigh… :-)
    Love, hugs and fond greetings across the water
    Dina xo

    • Stefano says:

      Dearest Dina,
      Thank you so much for your precious comment and apologies for basically disappearing. You know why… I am trying to catch up and I will email you separately.
      It would really be great if we could all get together one night and celebrate tasting a few great wines, having fun and exchanging impressions. Who knows, maybe one day…
      Lots of love to you all,
      Stefano

  4. I imagine Vinitaly must be a wonderful day out for wine lovers, even if there were a few things that needed tweaking. Thank you for your comprehensive post on your visit and for the great write ups on your personal favourites out of the wines you came across. The one that leapt off the page for me was the Pieropan, Soave Classico “La Rocca” – I used to really enjoy it but I haven’t had a bottle of it in ages, I must track one down. ;) ;)

    • Dina says:

      I was just thinking the same, I have really missed the Pieropan Soave, it used to be my favourite and now I haven’t had one for many years.

    • Stefano says:

      Thank you, dear B: you are absolutely right, both Vinitaly and the Gambero Rosso were wonderful. And I totally agree re the Soave La Rocca: I hope you can find… as they say, one bottle or three ;-) and enjoy it in good company!
      Hope all is well with you :-)

  5. Fig & Quince says:

    What a wonderful overview of what must have been an amazing day. I’m such a philistine when it comes to wine but I absolutely enjoying reading about and vicariously experiencing VinItaly through your eyes.

    And really: how do you do it Stefano? Seriously!

    • Stefano says:

      Thank you so much, Azita: it really was a great experience. As to how I do it… please read my reply to Maria’s comment above! ;-) Nothing fancy at all, though :-)

  6. Karen says:

    It sounds like a wonderful event to be a part of. I agree with you about how nice it would have been for the wines to have been grouped by region.

    • Stefano says:

      Thank you, Karen: I know, this grouping by distributor thing was not the easiest way for participants navigate the event… Even so, it was a great experience. :-)

  7. Oh my …Francesca how could I have neglected your posts!! You are my Italian wine mentor. I will take use of this post! Bacci :-)

  8. mfryan says:

    Whoa! So helpful! Thanks!

  9. Pingback: Full Report About Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri NYC 2014 | Flora's Table

  10. Pingback: WinEvents: Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2014 & Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri NYC 2014 | Flora's Table

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