by Raimondo Boggia, Contributing Editor
Vinitaly is an immense show. This year from April 15 to 18 in Verona, 128,000 people (of which 32,000 were professional buyers) from 143 countries came to taste more than 15,000 wines from 4,380 producers.
Many producers presented an anticipation of their 2017 vintage: the right proportion of rain and sun. A warm vintage—and almost everywhere in Italy a great one.
For many DOCG and other wines that need four years or more of aging, producers announced what’s going on with the 2014 release. Let’s face it, this was a challenging vintage in almost every micro-region of Italy. But before enjoying this vintage, buyers and customers should know how the best winemakers reacted: Almost all producers reduced their production by 25 to 40 percent and many of them are not producing Riserva, single crus, and other top-of-the-class labels. Therefore, they put the reduced (in quantity) selection of their best grapes into the entry-level labels of their wineries. I have tasted some great 2014 entry-price Barolos and Barbarescos, Chiantis and Super Tuscans, even if the Riserva and other premium labels will skip the 2014 vintage.
It is not my intention to make a synthesis of Vinitaly, but to discuss some positive surprises, share the emotions and appreciation I felt in tasting a few of the many wines I tasted, and explore some interesting stories behind their Denominations of Origin, grapes, and producers.
Compared to the hundreds of years—if not a millennium—of history of the celebrated aristocracy of Italian viticulture, most of the wines I have chosen are produced by quite recent winemakers, and many of them belong to the Heroic Viticulture Association, which unites wineries nested in unbelievably steep lands where hand-made stone drywalls hold terraces built to plant vines.