Tag Archives: Vinitaly

#OperaWine 2015: My Wine Tasting Notes for Italy’s Northeast

There we go: check out on Flora’s Table the second installment in my series of posts about the OperaWine 2015 event in Verona. This post organizes my tasting notes for the wines from Italy’s northeastern region.

For my general observations about the event or my tasting notes for Italy’s northwestern region, please refer to the first post in the series.

Enjoy! 🙂

Flora's Table

Here is part 2 in my series about my tasting experience at the OperaWine 2015 event in Verona last month. On this post we will focus on my tasting notes for the wines from Italy’s northeastern region.

For my general notes about the event and my tasting notes for the wines from Italy’s northwestern region, please refer to the first post in this series.

1. Trentino Alto Adige

Ferrari, Trento “Perlé” Brut 2006 ($34/€30): an outstanding Classic MethodBlanc de Blancs from the Trento DOC appellation expressing the delicate aromatic complexity that it developed in the five years that it spent maturing on its lees: fresh toast, roasted hazelnut, apple, white peach, honey and white blossoms. Then a creamy smooth sip that is perfectly supported by fresh acidity and tasty sapidity with matching flavors of apple, toast, roasted hazelnut and mineral notes. Outstanding Outstanding

Ferrari, Trento Perlé Brut 2006 Ferrari, Trento Perlé Brut…

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#OperaWine 2015: The Event and My Wine Tasting Notes for Italy’s Northwest

Check out on Flora’s Table the first post of my series about the outstanding OperaWine 2015 wine event in Verona, Italy, inclusive of my tasting notes. This post focuses on Italy’s NorthWest.

Enjoy! 🙂

Flora's Table

On March 21 I had the opportunity to attend OperaWine 2015, an exclusive wine tasting event that serves as the preamble to the Vinitaly event in Verona, Italy. OperaWine is jointly organized by Wine Spectator and Vinitaly and it aims at showcasing 100 of the greatest Italian wine producers selected by Wine Spectator, thus recognizing excellence in Italian wine.

OperaWine 2015 - Palazzo della Gran Guardia OperaWine 2015 – Palazzo della Gran Guardia

The event is reserved to media and trade and is much more compact than Vinitaly. OperaWine took place in the beautiful context of Verona’s Palazzo della Gran Guardia and the organization was excellent: registration was straight forward and the booths of the 100 selected producers were laid out in a logical order.

One thing the organizers deserve particular praise for is their decision to encourage selected producers to bring to the event (where appropriate depending on the wine they were…

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The Best of Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2014 NYC

VinItaly International 2014 - NYC

SlowWine 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 Cannubi; Franciacorta 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

WinEvents: Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2014 & Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri NYC 2014

Just a quick FYI to let our US-based readers know that, once again, the time has come for the two most important Italian wine fairs in the US: both Vinitaly International in association with Slow Wine 2014 and Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri US Tour 2014 are upon us.

VinItaly International 2014 - NYC

SlowWine 2014 - NYC

Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2014 will take place in New York City on February 3, 2014 from 9:30am to 5:00pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W 18th Street. Registration is limited to members of media and trade and is available on the Vinitaly International Website, along with the program of the event itself and that of the master classes.

Are you curious how the event was after all? Check out our post with the full coverage of the Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2014!

Should you wish to read my summary of Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2013, please check out my post from last year.

Gambero Rosso - Tre Bicchieri World Tour 2014 - NYC

Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri US Tour 2014 will be in New York City on February 6, 2013 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm at the same venue as Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2014, the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W 18th Street. Even here, registration is limited to members of media and trade: more information is available on Gambero Rosso’s Website.

Are you also curious about how this event turned out to be? Check out our post with the full coverage of Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri NYC 2014!

Should you wish to read my summary of Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri US Tour 2013 – NYC, please check out my post from last year.

I will be attending both events with Talk-A-Vino’s Anatoli (as I did last year) and this year we will be joined for the Vinitaly International/Slow wine event by The Winegetter’s Oliver! Should any of you plan on participating, please drop me a line in the comments section: it would be fun if we could get together!

Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2013: The Full Story

Vinitaly

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.

Slow WineSo, 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:

(A) PIEMONTE

  • VajraBarolo 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 Spectacular
  • Elvio CognoBarolo 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 Very Good
  • DamilanoBarolo 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 Very Good

(B) LIGURIA

  • VisAmorisRiviera 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. Outstanding Outstanding

(C) LOMBARDIA

  • Ca’ del BoscoFranciacorta 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 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. Outstanding Outstanding

(D) VENETO

  • Trabucchi D’IllasiRecioto 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 Spectacular
  • Trabucchi D’IllasiAmarone 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 Spectacular
  • PieropanSoave 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 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 Spectacular

(F) TOSCANA

  • Podere Il CarnascialeCaberlot 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 Spectacular

(G) UMBRIA

  • TabarriniAdarmando 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 Very Good
  • TabarriniSagrantino 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 Very Good
  • Arnaldo CapraiSagrantino 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. Outstanding Outstanding

(H) MARCHE

  • Marotti CampiVerdicchio 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 Very Good

(I) ABRUZZO

  • Cantina FrentanaPecorino 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 Very Good

(J) BASILICATA

  • Cantine del NotaioAglianico 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. Outstanding Outstanding – in my view with a couple more years in the bottle it may become spectacular.

(K) SICILIA

  • PlanetaNoto 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. Outstanding Outstanding
  • PlanetaCarricante 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. Outstanding Outstanding

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 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.

Cheers!