Vinitaly International Tour has launched the Vinitaly International Academy which is an innovative educational initiative about Italian wines. Master Classes on various Italian wines are being presented so that members of the wine trade can deepen their knowledge of Italian wines for sale, promotion and enjoyment purposes. This initiative was successfully launched at Vinitaly International Tour’s largest wine event in the U.S. in NYC on February 3rd at the Metropolitan Pavilion. And the initiative will continue as Vinitaly International Tour goes around the world to mainland China, Hong Kong, Russia and back to Italy’s largest wine event in Verona, Italy on April 5th.
The first of the Master Classes was on Barolo’s Cannubi. These wines are Italy’s oldest and most famous Grand Cru. This designation taken from the French means great vintages from specific areas, terrains and vineyards. Ian D’Agata, Vinitaly’s Scientific Director of the VIA (Vinitaly International Academy) presented at the tasting of these Barolo Cannubi wines and highlighted which ones were upcoming and which were more established producers. The tastings and information were a great way to find new Italian wines to love and to ask for.
Thsee wines are Nebbiolo grapes grown in the Piedmont and specifically the Barolo region. Some producers add other grapes like Muscatel or San Lorenzo. As for Barolo Cannubi? Cannubi is a long hill with a gradual slope lying in the heart of the Barolo area. The soils are rich in magnesium and maganese carbonate that are enhanced and weathered to richness by the air and unique microclimate. Surrounded by higher hills, Cannubi hill is protected from storms and extreme wind. Soil and exceptional microclimate give Cannubi a completeness and balance melding perfectly the structure and aromas and very elegant tannins making it an imminently drinkable wine.
Many of the wines we tasted were absolutely lovely, full bodied and elegant. deep- some with hints of red cherry others with raspberry notes, others spice. Aged in wood barrels, the spice and wood notes blend beautifully. Garnet-red in color, they cast ruby reflections. D’Agata asserted that the colors vary from a bright red that deepens with aging. The color is never inky black as some would want to claim. They offered a fine nose of penetrating clean scents: roses, vanilla, licorice, spices, toasted oak. Certainly a perfume of graceful power.
The Barolo Cannubi achieves maturity after 6 years from the harvest. As it ages well, it can be enjoyed throughout its life between 6 and 25 years. The prestige of the wines are site specific depending on the vintage and history of the vineyard. The bottles of Barolo Cannubbi can run $100 more at auction than a Barolo, again site specific with the reputation of the vineyard and vintage determining price.
This is a list of the wines presented:
Brezza Giacomo E Figli (Cannubbi)
Cascina Bruciata (Cannubi Muscatel)
Ceretto (Cannubi San Lorenzo)
Chiara Boschis (Cannubi)
Michele Chiarlo (Cannubi)
Scavino Paolo (Cannubi)
Virna (Cannubi Boschis)
If you, like me, are in a gastronomic paradise like New York City, San Francisco or Chicago and are always looking for lovely wines to go with fabulous cuisine, try one of these Cannubis. You can have them with cheeses and with fine (preferably free ranged, humanely slaughtered and anti-biotic free) red meats,like braised short ribs, steak, veal, roasts, game dishes. If you are in the wine trade, then get the word out about Italy’s oldest and finest “Grand Cru.”
Friends had introduced me to Amarone, but frankly it was a few years ago and I was not really informed about the wonderful Amarone wines. My friends were unfamiliar with it beyond being introduced to it at cursory tastings, one of the way wines are introduced but not really known.
Vinitaly International Tour has innovated a better way for wine aficionados to become familiar with lovely Italian wines. This innovation will not only increase familiarity with Italian wines which are gradually becoming known in America. The best benefit will be to further encourage our visits to wineries in Italy where we’ll be able to experience the wines on “their own turf” and spend more time savoring their flavors and understanding the terroir, production and their best years. With that knowledge, we can come back home and demand an increase in the wines’ availability.
The Vinitaly International Academy established this year provided an invaluable exposure to Amarone for those like myself who were familiar but not particularly knowledgeable about Amarone wines. Presented were the Amarone family of wines. Their quality and standards are exceptional because the association of producers has set the highest standards for their Amarone. Because of the popularity of Amarone, vintners have hopped on the train to cash in on the trend. The problem has been a diminution of the offerings and a lowering of quality. To ensure that this beloved and increasingly popular wine is not diminished or diluted in its power of enjoyment the association has adopted strict standards so the Amarone’s beautiful, riches are maintained. The association intends that Amarone’s history of greatness continue and that the wine NOT be treated like a commodity, but more as an appreciation of the art of fine wine making. Assembly line wines and lowered quality? These producers have an important point that few would argue with. What can I say? After the tasting, I was thrilled to add this wine to my list of favorites.
A bit about Amarone. Some is produced in the Valpolicella region which is near Verona. The finest grape growing region is in the hills which can be up to 700 metres high. The better vineyards are in the hilly region; the impoverished wines are in the alluvial plane which is not particularly advantageous to growing the grapes found in the traditional Amarone.
Amarone is composed principally of the Corvina grapes and Corvinone (bigger grape…and unrelated to Corvina). The Corvina grape is an ancient grape used by the Romans. To produce the wines, there is a meld of various percentages of Corvina or Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara and Oseleta grapes. Oseleta has fallen out of favor with vintners because it has a thick skin and little juice, though it is indigenous to the area. There is a much smaller percentage of Oseleta and Molinara, especially Oseleta simply because there is little juice yield. Usually an Amarone will have about 5% of either the Molinara or Oseleta.
Amarone is rich, smooth and depending upon percentages of grapes. there are spicy notes or black cherry savor on the tongue. Most of the wines we tasted had an interesting, memorable or lasting finish. A fine feature of Amarone is that it ages really well and actually benefits from aging.
The below list covers a few of the wines we sampled and my notes and Ian D’Agata’s informative Master Class, “Amarone, the Velvet Underground” are the first step to understanding this wonderful wine if you are not already familiar with it.
Begali / Amarone Classico 2008 The grapes are air dried. There was a subtle 17% alcohol content that was not readily noticeable. Notably rich tasting with 30% Rondinella and the rest of the main Corvina or Corvinone grapes and a small percentage of another grape (not Oseleta).
Brigaldara / Amarone Case Vecie 2008 This hadd a beautiful velvet mouth feel and lovely tannins. Again the grapes are air dried. The vineyard is in the high hills and they are harvested late and dried into February.
Musella / Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva 2008 This wine held the usual blend with less rondinella. Interestingly the wine was balanced with a fresh taste. What I liked was that the grapes were organically certified.
Speri / Amarone Classico Vigneto Monte Sant’Urbano 2009 This wine from a famous vineyard was delicious. It was composed of 75-80% Corvina and Covinone, 15% Rondinella and the rest from Molinara. It had a spiciness from the Molinara and nice finish. It ages well.
Tommasi Viticoltori / Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2010 This wine is a typical blend with 5% Oseleta. It is a deep, rich red color typical of Amarone. It is imminently drinkable, not opulent, a big red wine. It has an alcoholic strength that is subtle.
At a later date, I will feature the rest of the Amarone we tasted. Look for the article.
Once again the international Vinitaly Tour graced NYC and the turn out despite the snow was huge. Vintners, producers, retailers, distributors, exhibitors wouldn’t miss the largest Italian wine event of the year. Present were key figures for Vinitaly, Stevie Kim, Managing Director at Vinitaly International and Ian D’Agata, Scientific Director of Vinitaly International Academy. Both Stevie Kim and Ian D’Agata were present for a number of the Master Classes and Ian D’Agata’s expertise proved invaluable in relating the notable details about specific wines from the highlighted production regions.
The Master Classes provided by the Vinitaly International Academy are designed to familiarize patrons, American distributors and sommeliers with specific Italian wines. Particularly informative classes were on Barolo’s Cannubi flight presented by Ian D’Agata and his discussion at the tasting of the Amarone family of wines. “Amarone, the velvet underground: treasure to be shared” was a memorable session that garnered applause at the conclusion. Other exceptional Master Classes where on Franciacorta and wines from Puglia.
Friends kept friends who were unable to make it connected via Social. Yangbo Du captured many great pix and snippets on Storify. More stories to follow on this blog.
CIAO and remember to check out the great Italian wines coming your way.