I flew to New York City to attend a big event recently celebrating the winemakers of Italy and their wines. It’s called VINO and honors notable wine and vintners in Italy. From the launch of the first tasting event, the vibe was electric. Over 150 brands represented, seminars included wine experts covering topics from Rosé to Barolo and 600 media and trade individuals participated.
Italy owns 32% of the wine market share in the US making it the number one importer of wine here. Italy continues to produce many domestic wines including Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Barbera and Nero d’Avola (to name a few), they have turned to some of the more commonly sipped grapes in the US for their wines as they expand their markets. They are also making incredible blends.
Being a Rosé lover, I was thrilled to participate in the A Passion for Pink: Italy’s Love Affair with Rosato. I am not a big drinker of Rosato’s purely because I don’t know much about them. What I do know is Rosé has a completely different position in the marketplace than it had two or three years ago. Today Rosé enjoys a far more serious place in the lives of many a wine drinker.
I was thrilled to see two experts in our midst, Jeff Porter, of Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group and Eric Guido, of the Marketing Morrell Wine Group (historically one of the most famous wine retailers in the US). Guido says today he is seeing Rosé at the dinner table and paired throughout the seasons. People are looking for a Rosé they can find depth in today and taking those tastes far beyond thirst quenchers.
This presented an opportunity to venture into Rosato or Rosati from the Italian perspective. In the US we are usually exposed to 4-6 varietals used in the production of Rosé we drink. Italy has a completely different spin on it. In sharp contrast to their French counterparts, there are hundreds of varietals used in Italy to produces wine.
We tasted nine different wines from Cerasuolo di Abruzzo one of the most historic in the group, to Iripinia Rosato. Cerasuolo di Abruzzo from Cataldi Madonna transcends the run of the mill sipping rosés to a more robust and sophisticated rosé. Red fruit, lavender, and hints of herbs highlight the dark ruby pink wine. The area this wine grows is known as “the oven of Abruzzo” and is located 380 meters above sea level.
Next up was the panel for Barolo, Barbaresco and Their Crus led by Ian D’Agata, Scientific Director Vinitaly International Academy– Verona, Italy. Setting the stage for the seminar, D’Agata notes that Barolo & Barbaresco, hailing from cool climates which are more vintage dependent, were never single vineyard wines. Cru, in contrast, have been single vineyard since 1961 peaking in the 1980’s.
Wine cousins? Barolo and Barbaresco are just like Margaux and Burgundy, made in viticulture areas that have different townships. Barolos are known for higher tannins which could be part of the reason they are required to be in barrel the better part of three years. Barbaresco on the other hand, two years. Both regions reside in Northwestern Italy’s famous Piedmont (Piemonte) region.
Nebbiolo, the grapes used to make Barolo & Barbaresco is highly ageable. If you’re drinking an older vintage you may notice the color is lighter. That is because Nebbiolo’s oxidize faster than other grapes. It doesn’t affect the quality of the wine.
Out of the nine wines we tasted of Barolo and Barberesco I found the most delightful to be G.D. Vajra’s Barolo DOCG Cru Bricco delle Viole 2012. This wine is seductive, it beckons with cherry & black fruit. The anise is an underlying surprise and the light floral made me sigh. This is a Cru. The best of the best. 100% Nebbiolo, with bright ruby red hues. Perfection!
One of my highlights at VINO was talking to a Sicilian Vintner with roots dating back six generations. We talked about the wine he and his family make at Feudo Disisa. Located in the territory of Palermo, Feudo Disisa enjoys a close location to the coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea (about 15 km away). Their elevation varies from 400-500m (meters). The Di Lorenzo’s own 400 hectares. On their estate grows the longest standing Chardonnay grapes in the country.
Versatility, hard work and an eye on the future separates this family from others. Mario Di Lorenzo took time out with me at Spring Studios to talk about what makes his delicious wine different, the terroir and the climate of his winery. Listen in:
The best thing about wine period? It’s the opportunity for geographical exploration. You don’t have to leave your city to have a global palate. The wine that drew me to Marco Di Lorenzo was the Tornamira. It is Feudo Disisa’s most important international wine. A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, the wine is well-balanced. This Tornamira has juicy red berry flavors, smooth seductive tannins, and a long luscious finish.
Wine in Italy has changed over the last 20 years. The number of varietals grown and blended has expanded. You will find a wine that offers not only value but, versatility and excellent taste. It’s the perfect way to jazz up your wine cellar.
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