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Vinitaly 2023

Updated: May 22, 2023

This was the 55th version of the largest wine trade fair in Europe and one of the most important in the world.

The facts are interesting: 140,000 attendees, 4,000 wineries exhibiting, 70 countries of major overseas buyers attended; including more than 1000 ‘Super Buyers’.

During Vinitaly the glorious city of Verona welcomes wine producers, buyers, press and wine lovers to showcase amazing wine, extending wine marketing globally and sharing wine conversation over 4 days.

On offer are conferences, tastings, masterclasses and roadshows, in addition to Vinitaly courses for wine professionals and wine ambassadors.

One of the finest parallel events is Opera Wine which showcases the “best of the best” Italian wines according to Wine Spectator. The list of wines is drawn up during the previous wine forum Wine2Wine 2022 held by Bruce Sanderson and Alison Napjus and consists of 130 labels. The wines are chosen mainly from the latest releases, as well as a few older vintages.

On a personal note, I was pleased to see this year’s very special selection included 17 wines from Chianti Classico among which:

Vecchie Terre di Montefili Anfiteatro 2015, Rocca di Montegrossi San Marcellino Gran Selezione 2018, Castello di Albola Santa Caterina Gran Selezione 2015, Istine Levigne Riserva 2018, Poggerino Bugialla Riserva 2016; as well as Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2013, Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2020 and G.D.Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2012.

I arrived late morning Sunday April 2nd, to avoid the initial traffic, parked easily and 5 minutes later I was in the halls.

Tasting started with the wines of Tunella. The vineyards of this famous winery are situated in a territory called Colli Orientali del Friuli Venezia Giulia, famed for white wines of elegance.

Next was the stand of Marchesi Antinori, where I was greeted by the Marketing Director Enrico Chiavacci, who then introduced me to the CEO of Marchesi Antinori the multi talented and celebrated Renzo Cotarella. Other introductions included Chiara Borchi, Brand Manager of wine estates under the Antinori banner including Le Mortelle, Fattoria Aldobrandesca and La Braccesca.

Le Mortelle Botrosecco 2021 from Castiglione della Pescaia, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Le Mortelle Poggio Alle Nane 2020 a blend of both Cabernet’s with Carménère. This wine shows it has class from the off: aromatics of ripe black fruit, liquorice and dark chocolate. Beautifully put together, showing elegance, persistence and energy.

Fattoria Aldobrandesca Vie Cave IGT 2021 An amazing Malbec (…yes Malbec!) from Sovana, Grosseto, Tuscany.

La Braccesca Maggiarino Vino Nobile DOCG 2018, from near Cortona: Dark cherry, plum, blackberry, pipe tobacco, new leather, violet and hyacinth floral aromatics, fine tannins, balanced, inviting, almost exotic for a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano! And a definite pointer to a change of direction for this denomination.

Another two wines from Antinori:

Prunotto Nizza Riserva Costamiòle 2020 The first of these wines Is 100% Barbera, heady aromas of blue florals, vanilla and ripe red cherry. Rich, agile and linear.

Prunotto Secondine Barbaresco DOCG 2019 is glorious: red fruits of pomegranate, red berry and rose petal awaken the senses. On the palate, rich, deep texture, smooth with fine tannins, balanced.

Both these wines are in the upper echelons of Langhe wines, with the “Secondine” coming out first! ;-)

Next up was a visit to Secondo Marco and his wines from Valpollicella:

Secondo Marco Valpollicella Classico 2019 has very expressive aromatics, a light texture and saline infused energy.

Secondo Marco Valpolicella Ripasso 2017 is well into its stride, the ripasso technique is paying huge dividends with texture and persistence.

Secondo Marco Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG 2016 Not overly sweet, helped by an early harvest, not excessively drying, a trait that generally prevails in the wines of this estate. Lead by Corvina 60% and Rondinella 25%. Dark cherry, violet floral aromas. Rich, smooth, velvety in texture. A touch under full bodied.

Next tasting was Colesel. These spumante produced by Charmat Method (Martinotti) are a welcome relief to the palate:

Colesel Tridik Quota 430 Valdobbiabene DOCG: Fresh with fine, persistent perlage. Intense. Zero sugars.

Colesel Prato Scuro Valdobbiadene DOCG: Nuances of bread crust, salty minerality, persistent and linear. (8g/l)

The wines of Tommasi are always a joy. To catch up with Pier Giorgio Tommasi was very welcome and long overdue. We tasted:

Valpollicella Ripasso 2019, very expressive, good balance, red fruits, sweet tobacco and black pepper notes. Elegante and long on the close.

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2018, This is a wine of great depth with wide shoulders, rich, forward, red fruits submerged in alcohol, balsamic notes, dark chocolate and slate minerality.

Amarone della Valpollicella Riserva Ca’Florian 2015 Red cherry, boysenberry, liquorice, dark chocolate. Bold. Juicy. Deep broad structure. Built to last.

Then I moved into a private room dedicated to Tommasi De-Bvris Amarone della Valpollicella Classico Riserva DOCG their top Cru wine. There I tasted three vintages of this wine:

De-Bvris Amarone della Valpollicella Classico Riserva DOCG 2009 and 2010 showed great form but I really enjoyed…

De-Bvris Amarone della Valpollicella Classico Riserva DOCG 2011

Intense ruby red in colour with dark garnet undertones. Blackberry, blackcurrant, dark cherry, salty liquorice, blonde tobacco and balsamic notes, dark chocolate.Warm entry, expands at glacier speed across the mid palate showing textural depth. Complex, multi layered minerality. Agile. Juicy. Tons of energy. Pin point balance. Loiters on the close. Wow.

Although this wine was a touch closed, it was still very expressive. Long cellar life and patience will bring just rewards.

Then on to see my friends at Bertani. After jovial greetings, it was suggested that we try only one wine, as another meeting was booked shortly after. Our host disappeared briefly returning with…

Bertani Recioto Amarone Valpollicella Classico Superiore 1967

This vintage was perfect weather wise: a very rainy spring season, followed by very dry July and August, low rainfall in September. Dry and sunny October.

Garnet red in colour with bright highlights. Seductive on the nose, dried plum, prune and fig, pipe tobacco, balanced and integrated tannins and acidity showing refinement in bottle age. A total joy to taste. The glycerine level obtained underpins the richness and elegance of the aromas as well as the mouthfeel. Still alert and critical, even after starting its journey 56 years ago!

A huge thank you to Bertani for their generosity.

Next joyful tasting, was Speri. We started with:

Valpollicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2021

Fresh aromatics of rose petal, floral underbrush and liquorice. Lightly toasted blonde tobacco, youthful forward tannins and zesty acidity need to play out.

Feeling totally spoilt when their Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1988 was offered: Dark cherry, humus, redcurrant, cinnamon, dried plum and liquorice. Silky tannins, juicy, spice tray with dark chocolate dusting.Terrific presence and balance. Slight orange peel nuances on the close. Such a memorable experience.

Thank you all at Speri.

Finally to relax the palate I tasted the complete range of Franciacorta from Fratelli Berlucchi. Their Blanc de Blanc Brut 25 was most refreshing and quaffable: Lovely floral bouquet, citrus character fragrance on the palate, clean, crisp mouthfeel. Fine, persistent perlage.

A quick return to the hotel before a wonderful dinner invitation at the spectacular historic Villa Della Torre, home of the Allegrini family. Two of the wines served at the gala dinner were: Poggio Al Tesoro Dedicato a Walter Bolgheri Superiore 2019 A rich, potent and very quaffable Cabernet Franc. This was followed by their exceptional Amarone della Valpollicella Classico DOCG 2019.

The second day started early, albeit the traffic from our hotel into the city centre was a nightmare, taking 50 minutes, twice the usual time. I have attended Vinitaly on five occasions, not as a press invitee, but as a private visitor, this is my second review I felt obliged to write because the event has become such a sleek showcase, professionally staged and a pleasure to attend.

First tasting of the day was Marchesi Migliorati:

Pecorino Terre di Chieti IGP 2022: Green apple, honeydew melon, almond shell. Citrusy character, oyster shell minerality, creamy texture. Here you get a lot of wine for your money.

I then sampled their Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC 2021: Aromatics of white and yellow florals, bone dry, medium bodied and savoury. Fresh, clean, crisp and linear.

These wines are very well priced, but a word of warning: They are best not served too cold because half the nuances will be left in the refrigerator or wine cooler!

Next, two white wines from Tombolini:

Doroverde Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC 2020 Offering fresh, heady floral aromas. These vines benefit from the range of day and night temperatures variations due to the sea breezes from the Adriatic Coast.

Castelfiora Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC 2020. Whilst the Doroverde wine is a simpler and fresher wine, the Castelfiora is broader, carries more weight and makes a deeper statement. Again white aromatics and citrusy notes. Persistent with a more pronounced bitter almond finish, typical of these wines.

Moving to the Langhe, the fabulous Brandiní winery is little known, on the International stage. Situated in La Morra, Piedmont. Brandini produce 4 Cru’s: Annunziata, Meriame, Cerretta and R56:

Brandini Barolo R56 DOCG 2018 Still in its infancy and yet is in total harmony. Aromatics of rose petal, red cherry, redcurrant. Serious tannin structure but soft and rounded. Balanced and poised with textural depth and spice notes on the close.

Also from the Langhe, Casa E. Di Mirafiore from Seralunga D’Alba. Both wines are showing the quality that is 2019. I have always been a fan of their Riserva, only made in exceptional vintages: 2007, 2010 and 2015.

Mirafiore Paiagallo Barolo 2019 was a joy, concentrated, smokey, dark fruit, liquorice. Tons of energy. Persistent on the close.

Mirafiore Lazzarito Barolo 2019, Rich aromatics, red fruits including dark plum Mediterranean herbal notes, spices and fungi. Huge textural depth. Compact and concentrated. Full bodied.Long broad finish.

From Fontanafredda, I tasted 3 wines: Fontanafredda La Villa Paiagallo Barolo 2019, Fontanafredda Lazzarito Barolo 2016...and a glorious Barolo Riserva 2016 Red berry fruits, violet florals. Fresh forward tannins will relax in time. Savoury and earthy. Leather and gunpowder. Salty liquorice. Broad close.

Next, the wonderful expressive wines of Conterno Fantino. I sampled 6 wines in total.

The first two:

Ginestrino Nebbiolo Langhe 2020 I liked this because of its freshness and honesty…

...but I most enjoyed their more approachable:

MonPrá Rosso Langhe DOC 2020

Dark cherry, raspberry, dewberry, tobacco and dry leather. Agile. Textural depth. Juicy and very rich. Notes of spice on the back end.

…and then two sensational Barolo:

Mosconi Vigna Ped Barolo DOCG 2019

Towering florals, rich, beautifully crafted body, harmonious, balanced. Totally Outstanding. Showing class from the start.

Points 97 TW

Ginestra Vigna Sorì Barolo DOCG 2019

Another exceptional wine: Lifted aromatic profile, red and black berry fruit, salty liquorice, crunchy tannins that will relax. Agile with built in elegance.

Points 97 TW

Pelissero presented five Barbaresco wines: Nubiola 2019, Tulin 2019, Vanotu 2019

All were fresh, approachable, compact and quaffable.

Their fourth wine was remarkable…

Barbaresco Vanotu Riserva DOCG 2010 Inviting from the start with primary aromatics and fruit. Beautifully put together, micron precise balance, elegant with structure and poise. Wow! Blueberry, red cherry, violet florals, saline infused energy. Slight dryness on the close did not detract.

...their fifth wine was a heavy pour!

Pelissero Langhe DOC Rosso Long Now 2000 was poured from a 5 Lt. bottle, enjoyable but far from the star of the show.

Then a truly memorable tasting with Azelia, 6 wines in total;

Azelia Riserva Bricco Volgherà 2013

Azelia Barolo 2019

Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco 2019

Azelia Barolo San Rocco 2019

Azelia Barolo Cerretta 2019

Azelia Barolo Margheria 2019

Azelia Barolo Cerretta 2019 was of particular interest to me. Produced after a thirty year wait in order to vinify the Cerretta vineyard separately and to achieve the desired result,: Dark cherry, loganberry, plum, saline energy boost, faint balsamic notes, fresh. Nuances of liquorice and menthol infused tobacco. Elegant, purity of primary flavours are compelling. Juicy with soft contours that lead to a long close.

Points 96+ TW

Azelia Barolo Margheria 2019 This is all about structure. Deep textural resonance, broad shoulders, earthy, persistent, savoury and linear. I also appreciated the core tannin skeleton that this wine is built on. When you are looking for strong personality in your Barolo, look no further.

Points 95+ TW

After sampling all that wine, what I needed of course, was a slice of the historic Flamigni Panettone! So an early evening invitation to a pre dinner, event organised by PR Comunicare il Vino showcasing a few wineries at the Merlini Design Studio of Architecture at Villa Bolla in Piazza della Cittadella was very welcome. There, I tasted a few light white wines with delicately prepared canapès which were not to be missed.

Later that evening, another invitation from Barone Francesco Ricasoli to join him in celebrating his 30 years at Castello di Brolio. The reception was at the famous Ristorante Vittorio Emanuele in Piazza Bra, and what a party it was!

On leaving Verona the following day, I recollected the new friends I had made, and thought of the many producers that I intended to meet but somehow did not manage to...

Still, there is always next time.

© Tony Wood Italian Wine 2023

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