Thursday, April 15, 2010

VinItaly, Valdobbiadene, Venezia & Valpolicella

Let the Games Begin!

It was whirlwind 4 days filled with wine, meetings, learning, more wine, markets, interesting people, more wine, great contacts, beautiful countryside (and some not) and oh, did I mention wine?!

Tasting of "Wine Enthusiast" magazine's Top 100

Little Paradiso, as known as guide and sommelier extraordinaire, was my partner in crime, so I was in very good hands when in came time to meeting so many interesting people and their wines at VinItaly.

The masses waiting to enter each morning...

For those of you who have no idea what VinItaly is (and there are especially if you do not live in Italy), it is a 4-day wine fair in which wine producers from all over the country (and beyond) showcase their product for both buyers and the public. Each region is given it’s on “hall” where wine makers have, in most cases, elaborate displays/kiosks. You can visit Sicily and enjoy the wines of Donnafugata and Morgante. Or the Veneto with its Prosecco (yum) and Amarone (even more yum). Or go for the “norm” in Tuscany, trying the latest Chianti Classico or Brunello. Additionally, there are seminars and private tastings for the wine enthusiast (at an additional cost).

As mentioned, this is open to the public, so you can imagine what the place was like by 4:00PM. But we were there for work and what fun work it was! Here are some of my “highlight” wines from this experience:

“Sherazade” by Donnafugata - a light, very drinkable red wine, a good substitute for heavier reds in the summer, made with Nero d’Avola grapes.

“Lighea” also by Donnafugata - a refreshing wine white made from the Zibbibo grapes of Pantelleria Island. Note: they also have some of the best designed labels I've ever seen.

“Costasera” Amarone by Masi - An absolutely delicious, hearty red made by one of the Valpolicella’s most famous wineries (and the descendants of Dante Aligheri!).

“Valpolicella Classico” by Begali - A perfect “table wine” for meats, chicken and pork made by a small wine producing family (only about 60,000 bottles per year).

“Rosso” by Il Monticello - Probably the biggest surprise for me. A lovely, smooth table red made in Liguria of all places (much more famous for its whites). They are a small producer, not even a web site up and running yet!

My neighbors...

After our two days at VinItaly, we headed east to explore the “Prosecco Highway” of Valdobbiadene and a day in Valpolicella for more Amarone. While the Prosecco Highway has a way to go in terms of countryside charm (too much new construction going on in an area that would benefit from restoring its many dilapidated farmhouses surrounded by vineyards), the Valpolicella was a delight.

Amarone Vineyards

Just a 15 minute drive from Verona, you are in the gorgeous rolling green hills with a patchwork of vines and beautiful villas and palaces with the Dolomites in the backdrop. Now this is Italy! It is a wonderful area to base yourself in and do day trips not just through the wine region, but also to Lake Garda (30 minutes), Verona (15 minutes), even Venice (about 1 hour). Hiking, biking, hearty food and lots of open space to enjoy a good bottle of Amarone!

Lunch among the vines...

Valpolicella Living...

What a fun and educational “field trip”.

Thanks LP and looking forward to the next adventure!

Ciao da Venezia!


erin said...

This looks like so much fun!!! I met Kate years ago in Monterosso. I'll have to make a note on some of these wines to try!

Heiko said...

I didn't make it this year to the Vinitaly, but it's always a huge event, and whilst enjoyable, always hard work too. The mileage walked alone... We always stay ourside Verona at Lake Garda. Hope you have sobered up sufficiently in the meantime. ;-)