By Filippo Bartolotta
Vinitaly, the 43rd edition of the worldeuros biggest wine fair, opened in Verona on April 2nd and will close on Monday 6th after five days of over 4,200 exhibitors that represented five continents. The fair area covers nearly a million square feet, room barely enough for the astonishing total of 160.000 visitors, give or take a thousand, from 110 countries. Almost 2,500 Italian and four hundred international journalists covered the event and were constantly buzzing all over.
Vinitaly is a must for the wine trade in general and especially for Italian producers. It is an amazing experience: in just one venue one can in effect taste the whole of Italyeuros wine production and meet almost any Italian vintner. Yet this so very exceptional occasion is not for the faint of heart: one has to be pre
pared to queue up to get near the site, to find a parking slot, to get inside, to taste wine, to hope for an espresso everything in best Italian style, queues, coffee and all. Hence after having paid my tribute and respects to this the mother of all wine exhibitions for hours I was pleased to find time for a refreshing break.
VINO VINO VINO PRESS KIT
Vinitaly is where people sell their yearly allocations. Piero Lanza of the Chianti Classico estate Il Poggerino says that euroOn the day right after the end of Vinitaly the yearly production used to be sold out with 300 cases here and 300 cases there. This was true until 2000-2001, then that was that. Our importers kept coming along to Vinitaly, but without signing anything majoreuro. Sean O'Callaghan, wine maker at Riecine, also within the Chianti Classico, believes that today Vinitaly is a waste of time and far too expensive, what with minimum charges of 2500 for a very small table, and confused, disorderly, disagreeable owing to the teeming crowds of free-loading gawkers and imbibers . . . many drunks, to be honest.
Dario Princic, producer of some famous Friulian whites, agrees: euroFar too many drunks without true passion or interest and less knowledge. Moreover, it runs too long and costs too much, which is why I withdrew after 2003euro.
Saverio Petrilli, of the well-established Valgiano Estate, says euroWe still have a little stand at Vinitaly to maintain touch with trade contacts, but iteuros very stressful, what with the bad lighting, incessant noise and horrendous tasting conditions . . . the wines go bad immediately, which doesneurot happen at my house or place of business, both quality places where people can relax, feel comfortable and enjoy their wines. Petrilli is enthusiastic about the far more dignified Vino, Vino, Vino, an exhibition also held annually near Verona and draws about a hundred a fifty exhibitors. Its venue is an attractive mid-nineteenth-century villa with wooden floors and classical, peaceful gardens.
Referring to this event, Sofia Pepe of the chateau of Emidio Pepe, a leading producer of Trebbiano and Montepulciano deuroAbruzzo, observes that euroYes, Vino, Vino, Vino is the proper place for serious wine lovers and producers of natural products. It isneurot meant to be an anti-Vinitaly, but rather an atmospheric fair of extremely friendly and motivated producers who believe in more sustainable farming and vintneryeuro.
Arianna Occhipinti, who makes a super fresh Frappato and Nero deuroAvola from Vittoria, Sicily, doesneurot have any doubts about how natural she likes her wines: I doneurot want any trace of oak or anything else, but just the purest fruit.
With Paolo Bea and his Sagrantinos o Rossos di Montefalco one caneurot have much to say either as these wines have such a natural sweetness that they could be drunk for breakfast. He smiles and looks at me during dinner: we produce without almost any intervention.
During this wine fair I came across to so many good wines and sweet producers that is very difficoult to get a complete account in one article only.
One could browse from one of the most estabilshed purist of all like Cappellano, with Augusto, always smiling and always ready to be surprised by the character and the amaizing differences of his own wines: the Rupestris euroeuro04 is a gripping style wine with zesty style fruit, wether the Barolo Pi Franco ( pre philoxera vines)euroeuro04 is a dense, concentrated and extremely refined wine with blueberries and cherris fruit and caressing jucy tannins.
Still hanging in Piemonte, Maria Teresa Mascarello is showcasing her new 2005: a great performance of one of the most elegnat and delicate Mascarellos I had.
In the new entry cathegory I was striken by the mineral density of the nouvelle vogue from Cortona: Stefano Amerighieuros Syrah.
No kidding for this one. Iteuros just his fourth attempt, but the wine shows already a great deal of complexity, extraction, purity and drinkability that one just caneurot get enough of it.
Travelling from south Tuscany towards Sicily here comes a super combination: the famous savoury Anphorae wines of the Vittoria winery COS, always dedicated to higly crafted natural wines; the never ending, complex jucyness and franticeuro drinkabilityeuro of my favourite Nero deuroAvola ever from D Zenner, Terre delle Sirene; the mineral salty fruit of the whites from Barraco in Marsala; the uplifting burgundian Nerello from the Mount Etna of the great Salvo Foti and the broad generosity of the Catarattos from Porta del Vento in Palermo.
All the wines above come from completely different areas, from completely different minded people and completely different techniques, but trist me, they do have something in common: they are packed with individual character, they are all extremely jucy, complex, lingering and easy to drink.
The natural factor must have something to do with it.
Stanislao Radikon is the well-known producer of anphorae made Ribolla. He made his wines without any sulphites this year, a fact proclaimed on the label, and is one of the founders of Vini Veri (eurotrue wineseuro see www.viniveri.net), the association which introduced the concept of natural wines in Italy in 2002. euroWe began,euro he says, euroin 2003. The year before some of us had been invited to Bordeaux by Nicolas Joly, producer of La Cule de Serrant, to join the fair next to Vinexpoeuro.
Joly, the famous biodynamic French vigneron, is the founder of a group of euronaturaleuro producers known as La Reinassance du Terroir. For these producers, just plain organic farming isneurot enough. They take the natural approach not only in the vineyard, where they claim to be extremely severe, but also in the cellar. Although not biodynamic, many of them nevertheless keep close to the philosophy of Steiner, the father of biodynamic. Joly knows that the world is changing and that traditional wine fairs and the market generally will have to come to terms with the euronaturaleuro question: the UK will in effect be forced to accept this trend, but it is a very slow process there when compared with Brazil, France, Italy, Japan and the USA. For Joly there are two kinds of wines: those deriving from misunderstood farming, where chemicals are used, which in turn creates a huge need for oenological tampering in the cellar and eliminates tipicity; and those deriving from intelligent farming, made with a view to preserving the original aspect of any place, of its climate and soil, and to letting the fruit make wine by itself because it is in such untampered purity and balance.
Michael Schmelzer, owner of Monteberbardi iteuros very simple: I make natural wines becouse I believe they come out better and also because I doneurot want my kids to run around the vineyard among chemical poisons!
In a nutshell: how do these producers different from their euroregulareuro colleagues? Well: They doneurot allow chemical products either on the vine or in the wine, nor do they interfere with the natural process of fermentation (that is: no added yeast or nitrogen, no crio-maceration, etc.) nor with the fining of the wine (that is: clarifying, filtering, etc.). They may sometimes allow small amounts of sulphur dioxide. But: Are their wines any better? Beneficial effects aside i.e., very small amounts of sulphites, so that youeurore less hung over , I personally believe that producers with vines in great terroirs and observing careful and natural processes are releasing outstanding wines with no less outstanding character, depth, energy and aging potential but people with common soils and resorting to sloppy wine making merely produce mediocrities, even though in theory euronaturaleuro.