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Vinitaly 2005: Verona, Italy. Day 2 & 3

trentino.jpgAs I mentioned before, this year at Vinitaly I am paying particular attention to "alternatives" - new and different ideas in the marketplace. When you visit such a big show, with more than 4,000 exhibitors and an estimated 20 to 30 thousand wines at your disposal, certainly you have to make choices. So we have a plan. And every good plan has to anticipate surprises.

This year seems to be the year of the rediscovery of autochthonous wines, a.k.a. indigenous grape varieties. Italy has an enormous variety of native grapes. In recent years, many proud wine growers, often assisted by local universities, have done deep research to uncover several new indigenous varieties, and have begun producing these wines for the market. Be prepared to see these names (among many others) on wine bottles in the near future: Ansonica, Bellone, Bonvino Bianco, Caricante, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Cesanese, Chiavennasca, Coda di Volpe, Corinto Nero, Croatina, Falerno del Massico, Frappato, Fumin, Malvasia del Lazio, Muscat de Chambave, Nerello Mascalese, Pelaverga, Petit Rouge, Piedirosso, Pignola, Priè Blanc, Rossola, Sagrantino, Terrano, Timorasso, Trebbiano Giallo, Verdicchio, Vespolina, Vitovska. Many of them are made and consumed locally, especially as individual varietal wines due to small production quantities, or sometimes their quantities are so small they must be only components of interesting blends with others.

I explored several of these new varietals here at Vinitaly, and I'll share with you some of my favorites:

Azienda Agricola G. Papa
Based in Falciano del Massico (Caserta, north of Naples, region Campania) Contact: Antonio Papa.

2003 Papa "Campantuono" (Falerno del Massico Primitivo DOC). Only 3,000 bottles from 80 years old vineyards, aged 12 months in French oak. Score: 8.5. Cost: $12,50.

2003 Fastignano Rocca Monfina V.T. (late harvest Falerno del Massico Primitivo DOC). Only 1,000 bottles made. Score: 9. Cost: TBD.

Azienda Agricola Antonino Caravaglio
Based in the village of Malfa, in the wonderful scenery of Salina, Eolie Islands, North of Sicily. Contact: Antonino Caravaglio.

2004 Malvasia delle Lipari Passito di Salina DOC (Malvasia delle Lipari 95% and Corinto Nero 5%). Score: 9.5 Cost: $13 (half liter bottles).

2001 Salina Rosso IGT (Nero d'Avola 70% and Corinto Nero %). Score:8.5 Cost: ?
Contact: .

These wines may be difficult to find in the US, but believe me, they're worth a trip to Italy.

In addition to new grape varietals I also focused my tasting on three important italian DOCGs which provide excellent price-quality ratios, and are often not difficult to find in the US. Here are my favorites from these three regions.

Sparkling Wines " Franciacorta DOCG Traditional Method (Lombardia)
Fraciacorta is a small area between Bergamo and Brescia (North of Italy). The DOCG refers to sparkling wines (white and rosè) exclusively bottle-fermented with the traditional method of Champagne, based on Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco. You probably know in the US brands like Bellavista, Berlucchi and Ca del Bosco. Here we have an alternative producer, Contadi Castaldi, recently acquired from the same owner of Bellavista, Mr. Vittorio Moretti.

2000 Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut Rosè DOCG (Pinot Nero). Score: 9. Cost: $38-40
2001 Contadi CastaldiFranciacorta Brut Satèn DOCG (Chardonnay & Pinot Bianco). Score: 9. Cost: $38-40
2000 Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Zero DOCG (Chardonnay-Pinot Bianco-Pinot Nero). Score: 9. Cost: $38-40

Red Wines - Carmignano DOCG (Tuscany)
The town of Carmignano was one of the first "Comuni" of Tuscany and its thousand year history is entirely connected to the production of wine. Wine production in this area dates back to 1,200 years ago. In 1716 the Serenissimo Granduca Cosimo III dè Medici established the first set of laws and regulations for the production of wine including control and fraud repression measures. Carmignano in rightly proud for being selected by the Granduke as one of the first four DOC. appellations ever. And After several vicissitudes in past century, finally Carmignano obtained the further refined DOCG appellation in 1990. Carmignano is a red wine (45-70% Sangiovese, 10-20% Canaiolo nero, 6-15% Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon).

Tenuta di Capezzana:
2001 Tenuta di Capezzana "Villa di Capezzana" Carmignano DOCG (Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot). Score: 8.5. Cost: $18.00
2000 Tenuta di Capezzana "Trefiano" Carmignano DOCG (Sangiovese, Cabernet, Cannaiolo Nero). Score: 8. Cost: $20.00.
1999 Tenuta di Capezzana Vin Santo Riserva Carmignano (Trebbiano & San Colombano). Score: 7.5. Cost: ?
2003 Tenuta di Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC (Sangiovese, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Cannaiolo) Score: 8. Cost: $5.00.

Enrico Pierazzuoli
2003 Enrico Pierazzuoli "Tenuta le Farnete" Barco Reale di Carmignano. Score: 8. Cost: $ 10.00.
1998 Enrico Pierazzuoli "Tenuta Le Farnete" Carmignano Riserva. Score: 8. Cost: 20.00.
2000 Enrico Pierazzuoli "Tenuta Le Farnete" Carmignano Riserva. Score: 8.5. Cost: $ 20.00.
2001 Enrico Pierazzuoli "Tenuta Le Farnete" Carmignano . Score: 8. Cost: $ 10.00.

Fattoria di Bacchereto:
2002 Fattoria di Bacchereto "Terre a Mano" Carmignano. Soft and spicy. Score: 8. Cost: $14.00.

Villa Artimino:
1999 Villa Artimino "Vigna Grumarello" Carmignano. Score: 7.5. Cost: $15.00.

Sweet Wines, Ramandolo DOCG Verduzzo Giallo Friulano, Friuli Venezia Giulia).(
Ramandolo is set among the hills of Colli Orientali del Friuli, in the North East of Italy. Around this small village, for nearly 500 years locals have traditionally grown grapes to create Verduzzo Giallo and the well known Picolit, both sweet wines.

Dario Coos:
2001 Dario Coos Ramandolo V.T. DOCG. Botrytized (aka Noble Rot)with 10 months in oak. Score: 8. Cost: $11 (half liter bottle).
2001 Dario Coos Ramandus DOCG. Air-dried and then fermented in steel. Score: 8.5. Cost: $16 (half liter bottle).

di Lenardo:
2004 Di Lenardo "Pass The Cookies" V.T. (Verduzzo). Partially air-dried, 10,000 bottles produced. Score: 9. Cost: 5,50 ($12 in US).

Lis Neris:
2003 Lis Neris Tal Luc (Verduzzo 95% & Riesling 5%). Only 1,500 bottles produced. Score: 9. Cost: $40 (half liter bottle).

Aquila del Torre:
2000 Aquila del Torre Picolit. This wine has got class! Raisining Botrytized and the loft-dried. Score: 9.5. Cost: $ 25 (half liter bottle).

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud