Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vinitaly 2016: Tasting the 50th Vintage

The 50th edition of Vinitaly was popular as usual, with several people, events and wineries represented the cost of the ticket for a non-trader was 80 euros for one day (75 euros if bought on-line), quite pricy and more expensive than previous years. In a way, it prevented people just willing to “get drunk” to come at the fair. The Vivit stand, which I discussed extensively two years ago in my blog, represented wineries whose purpose is to fully express their terroir. It was extremely busy and filled with several small producers.
The sign of the 50th edition
Among the larger wineries three were particularly good: Gulfi from Sicily, D’ Alfonso del Sordo from Puglia and Cantina Valle Isarco from Alto Adige. The former makes top organic wines like Nero D’Avola and Cerasuolo di Vittoria. D’Alfonso del Sordo produces some of the finest whites (try their Bombino Bianco for aperitif) and great reds such as the rich Dammitempo, made with Negramaro grape. Cantina Valle Isarco makes extremely good whites (e.g. Kerner, Riesling, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Grigio and Gewurztraminer from their Aristos selection are among the best whites in Italy).
Gianfelice D'Alfonso Del Sordo (left) with sales assistant Claudio Pedone (right) and myself.

There were two main highlights of the event. The first was learning from and trying the wines of Emidio Pepe from Abruzzo. I was lucky enough to have his granddaughter Chiara present me the wines.Emidio Pepe is an organic family-owned business whose savoir-faire comes from grandfather Emidio, who still works and manages the winery with the help of the whole family.
Emidio

The selection of Montepulciano from Emidio Pepe
Tasting a selection of their Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and Trebbiano from different vintages was a unique experience and one that I’ll never forget. These wines are pure expressions of terroir and they tell different stories, also according to how the vintage ended up. The 2010 Montepulciano is rich, tannic, concentrated and with a great ageing potential. For Emidio, it can be used to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the winery in 2064! Seeing Chiara and her grandfather share their passion for wine was a joy to see. I was glad to hear that they also export a lot of older wines overseas. As Chiara noted, they are exporting to the world their finest vintages and this is something to be very proud of. They are also keeping the family traditions of winemaking alive, which is unique and exemplary in the modern world.

The wines, Emidio and me
The other highlight of this years' edition was the tasting “Irpinia a Tavola”: a tasting of foods and wines from the Irpinia territory, which is found in the inland of the Campania region and offers an incredible array of high-quality ingredients. The menu offered a choice between two different kinds of pasta - one more classic with tomato sauce and Caciocavallo cheese and the other with the extremely rich “Genovese Sauce” made with stuffed onions. Both were a delight for the palate. After a selection of charcuterie and cheese (including great ricotta and mozzarella), the meal finished with some dried sweets made with organic hazelnuts.
Spaghetto
Fusillone
The whole tasting, which lasted for an hour, was well organized and also saw the participation of famous foodie and traveller Patrizio Roversi. I thought that the idea of inviting young chef Mirko Balzano, who has a passion for his land and using local ingredients, was great. The dishes were well made and the story behind the single ingredients (e.g. artisanal pasta) was explained by the producers themselves. After all, is there a better way of promoting a territory other than through food and wine?
The menu
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