I was in Verona at the beginning of April for a couple of days to attend a dinner organized by Masi at Serego Alighieri estate and visit Vinitaly – the biggest Italian wine fair. It is my first visit to a wine fair outside Romania. There were about 11 huge hangars with hundreds of booths, each representing one or more wine regions in Italy. There were a few producers from other countries too but very poorly represented. At the end of the day Vinitaly is only about the Italian wine.
Our group, the same that attended the dinner organized by Masi, arrived at the fair’s entrance early in the morning just when the wine fair was about to open and there was already a huge queue of people waiting to get in. As there was only one day reserved for visiting the fair I tried to see and taste as many wines as possible. Even though I was at the fair from 9:30 and left at 19:00 running on those corridors from one booth to another, and from one hangar to another, tasting over 300 wines, I would say that I probably visited about 20-25% of the fair. I tried to focus on the big and known producers and unfortunately some of them were very restrictive about tasting their wines and accepting your visit unless you were their partner. But on the big ocean of producers that was just a small percentage. The rest of them were gladly presenting their wines.
I attended the presentations and the tastings of all the wines of Masi, Piccini, Planeta and some producers of Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmont. There was very little time to write tasting notes for most of the wines as I was literally running from one hall to another, however I did manage to get notes for some top Masi wines while I spent more time there resting a bit and enjoying some good wines.
Deep dark ruby red color. The nose is rich, complex and developed, with rich layers of cocoa powder, black and red cherry liquor, caramel and prunes. The taste is full body showing a velvety structure, concentrated, with flavors of black and red cherry jam and mint. The finish is long and intense with mint and cocoa flavors in the aftertaste. Young wine that already offers a great drinking pleasure. 91-92 points
Masi Mazzano 2004
Deeper ruby red color. A balanced nose, round and developed with earthier aromas, mushrooms, dark and red cherry liquor and mintier aromas, sandal wood and cocoa. A full body wine, with a much sweeter sensation in the mouth than the Campolongo, very minty, with more aggressive tannins, flavors of red cherry liquor, mocha and earthy tones. The finish is long, the powerful tannins drying the mouth. A closed wine that comes a bit more rustic at this stage but having plenty of potential. 91 points
Masi Amarone Costasera Riserva 2006
Dark red velvet color. A sweet, round and developed nose. Taste is full body with plenty of ripe red fruits, black cherry liquor, mint, firm tannins and a long minty finish. A better value now that the 2004 Mazzano and a real favorite for most of the people tasting it. 91 points
At Planeta’s booth, the Sicilian wine producer, we tasted all their wines and the olive oil. I enjoyed the white Chardonnay and the red Bordeaux blend – Burdeos. The olive oil is spectacular as well.
At Piccini we tasted many Brunello’s and IGT wines from different vintages, including a new wine made in an commercial International style from grapes coming from several geographical regions in Italy and blended as a table wine, that was just launched at the fair. The 2004 Brunello Riserva stood out in the group.
wines from Tenuta di Trinoro – they also sell their wines en-primeur,
Castello dei Rampolla – stunning 2003 d’Alceo,
Bricco dell Uccellone – all their wines are really good and the owner was priding herself with the Romanian skilful workers she employs both in the basic labor, as in the management and wine making process. I felt really good hearing such kind words coming from an important Italian producer about Romania and Romanians.
The most inspiring wines for me were the Barolo’s I tasted in the Piedmont section. Overall there is great quality and homogeneity in most of the wines tasted from the vintage 2004. This is an area I would surely love to visit and explore during a vacation.
There are a few important things to say after this experience. Any wine lover should seriously consider visiting any of the big International wine fairs that take place every year in Europe: Prowein in Germany, Vinitaly in Italy, Vinexpo in Bordeaux or the one in London. It is a great experience that is worth living. However, more than just a day should be allocated in order to properly and peacefully taste most of the wines and visit all the producers. For me spending only one day was a real marathon but I am still grateful I managed to taste, as mentioned before, over 300 wines.
Italy is a country with hundreds of years of history in wine making and that is a fact. The size of this fair, the big number of producers and visitors that attend this fair each year are a clear proof of how important the wine is, in this country. Hopefully, Romania will manage to emulate the same culture for wine widespread among its citizens as the Italians have at a certain point in the future. Let’s hope that future is close enough.
For more pictures from my Vinitaly 2011 experience please go here.
Thanks for reading!