After two long years without a proper wine fair, it was about time to head back to the picturesque city of Verona to meet our Italian partners, taste the new vintages and discover new wines.
Most of the wineries, even the big ones, mentioned a lot of difficulties, focusing more on the constant price increases on dry materials, the scarcity of glass bottles and delays in the delivery of capsules and packaging materials. The war in Ukraine has made the situation even worse, closing two of the biggest European markets for most of the wineries, while the skyrocketed energy cost has affected production costs significantly all over Europe.
But, despite all the problems, the Veronese PalaExpo was full of smiling people, warm handshakes and hugs making it feel like more of a catch-up between friends who haven’t seen each other for ages, rather than a business fair. Everyone, including us, was feeling so liberated, so excited to be out again, meeting people, socialising, and of course tasting some great wines!
We were staying in the city centre and while we had a car, we decided to use the shuttle bus, to avoid the hassle of finding parking (and the drunken driving on the way back). Surprisingly, the service was amazing! Lots of buses, all on time, driving us in 10-15 minutes to the fair. No hassle, no problems. “That’s a great start”, I said and proceeded to the entrance. A second surprise was waiting for us there. No queues, no waiting to get in: just scanned the vaccination certificate and the ticket and we were in PalaExpo in just a few minutes. Long story short, the whole organisation was great, seemed like the Italians used these two idle years, to ensure guests will have a top-notch experience and they really made it, so well done to the organisers!
Now, to the interesting part: the wineries and the wines! We had quite a tight schedule of meetings: three full days, from 9am to 6pm, in order to meet our 38 partners that had a stand in the fair. We had to run a bit, but we managed to meet everyone, and have a glass or -usually- a few more!
So, here are some of the highlights of Vinitaly 2022, through my eyes and of course through my taste-buds:
An iconic white wine, it was also featured in this year’s Opera Wine, as one of the best Italian wines, was most probably the best white wine of the show. Deeply complex but still very refreshing, this wine ticked all the boxes for me. Ageing potential is 15-20 years easily. Drink or keep if you can!
The curious nature of my old sommelier mind has been awakened with this wine. A beautiful blend of -undisclosed- grapes, makes you guess where all these fruity, herbal, buttery notes are coming from. An excellent marketing trick for an incredible wine! Of course, we have ordered it and should be in Malta soon!
Nino Franco treats Glera
as a high-quality grape, capable of so much more than just boring fizzy wines, taking Prosecco
to another level. The hills of Valdobbiadene offer the perfect terroir and growing conditions for delicious sparkling wines. While the whole range is amazing, I chose the Rustico
, which is the “entry” level wine, as it stands for an amazing value for money, paving the way for the Cartizze and the rest of the high-end wines of this fantastic winery. If you haven’t tried a Nino Franco yet, you have to as soon as possible.
I love Brancaia, Barbara’s wines are so precise and full of character from the entry level Tre
to the legendary Il Blu.
The Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is a new addition, completing the Chianti range of the winery with the best possible way. An organic certified wine, with a super elegant packaging, at a great price. The juice is simply delicious, deep, and complex, from 100% Sangiovese, full of cherry, cinnamon, mocha, and violet notes. This beautiful new wine will be officially released in September, so keep your eyes open, as allocations will be limited.
I could talk about Elio Altare
wines for hours, as the whole range is a piece of art. And while everybody knows and craves for Elio’s Barolos, the wine that surprised me the most, was the simple, humble, and affordable, everyday wine of the Piedmontese people: the Barbera. The urban legend says that people were drinking Barbera while waiting for the Barolos to age, well that was not the only reason. Elio’s Barbera is a fantastic wine that delivers much more than its price tag suggests. A super elegant wine, refreshing yet complex and age worthy, capable of amazing food-parings. A revelation, hands down the best Barbera I have ever tasted. Try it out!
I tasted Petrolo
wines and met the winemaker for the first time in Vinitaly. I was so impressed with the whole range and the different expressions of the terroir, really world class wines, Super-Tuscan definition. But the one that left me wondering, was the only white of the flight, the infamous Boggina B. An organic certified wine, 100% Trebbiano Toscano, native yeast fermentation in old big tonneaux barrels and aged on the lees for 15 months. After a lot of battonage, the wine is bottled unfiltered and then: wow. On the nose, a Burgundy Cru. On the palate though, a different story! Elevated acidity, full body, tropical fruits, salinity, herbs, sour cream and a long list of descriptors as this wine’s complexity is endless. A unique gem of a wine from a cult winery that every wine lover must try at least once.
Bibi Graetz is a wonderful person to start with. A colourful personality, a visionary man that creates amazing wines, while being so simple, humble, and sincere. We had the privilege and the opportunity not only to visit him at his stand but also to be invited to his party, after the fair, in the city of Verona. Colore 2019, was a revelation of a wine, a Tuscan wine unlike other Tuscans. Bibi’s vision was to produce a Burgundy style Sangiovese
and in 2019, it seems this idea translated into a legendary wine. Elegant and paler, fruity and spicy, herbal and mineral, this wine comes with layered complexity and balanced structure, fine velvety tannins and high acidity, that makes it super enjoyable now, but with a limitless ageing potential. The definition of elegance!
I won’t lie! We visited Tasca’s
stand twice! And we did well, since the second time we had the opportunity to taste not only the amazing new vintages that Tasca has released from all Tenute, but also some treats of older vintages. Among these great wines, the one that really blew my mind was the Riserva del Conte 2010, a wine made of perricone and nero d’avola, produced in less than 8,000 bottles. Old vines from 1959, produced this gem of a wine, bold, inky and full-bodied red. Despite twelve years of ageing, the wine is still very youthful, indicating a very long ageing potential. Certainly, a collector’s wine, one of the Sicily’s bests. A limited number of bottles are currently available at Farsonsdirect.
Poggione is certainly one of the first names that come to mind when you say Brunello. An iconic producer, whose wines are always in fine establishments’ lists, private collector cellars and award ceremonies. They can also be everyday treats for wine lovers though given the fact that the prices of the wines are very reasonable for what’s in the bottle. While the whole range of new vintages delivers the usual high quality, the 2017 riserva is certainly a wine to invest to, a wine that will continue the legend of previous great vintages, a wine to keep for decades. Extremely complex, yet still shy. Very youthful, yet very enjoyable. Tannic, acidic but very balanced with the fruit. Get some now, as the prices will go up for sure, and keep for at least 5 more years.
Last but not least, Clos Roareti.
A wine you wouldn’t believe it’s a 17€ wine on the shelf and most probably you would never guess is comes from Veneto, if tasted blindly. If you like warmer Pomerol wines or maybe Napa, you have a surprise coming from Guerrieri Rizzardi
with this amazing Merlot. The Roareti vineyard is enclosed by a stone wall (clos) and the vines are even 100 years old. It produces a rich, full-bodied, complex wine, full of plums, spices and chocolate. Great use of oak and a very balanced structure, with endless finish. A wine to keep next you your finest Bordeaux.
We had also the pleasure to dine with the winemaker, Giuseppe, and his family, in Bardolino. A wonderful evening with great company and amazing wines, was the perfect epilogue for Vinitaly 2022.
The Journey Back
On our way to the airport though, we had some spare time to spend! We were lucky enough to be able to visit Marco and his amazing wines in Dal Forno Romano
. I don’t have to say anything about Dal Forno
, the reputation of these wines is beyond any comments and tasting notes. Every bottle was a masterpiece of winemaking and a unique delicacy. It was my first time tasting the Valpolicella and the Amarone and it was certainly a unique and memorable experience.
A bit tipsy, but with a big smile in my face and a lot of experiences and tasting notes in my notebook, I took the flight back to Malta. Until the next one, cheers!