The 45th edition of Vinitaly, one of the longest running international wine exhibitions, concluded in Verona, Italy, on Monday April 11th. Vinitaly is different from the other big trade exhibitions (Prowein, London International Wine Fair, Vinexpo) in that it is not international in its exhibitor profile and is dedicated almost exclusively to Italian wines, reports Gaurav Anand who makes the most of the opportunity to ‘taste Italy’.
The exhibition set records midway, with over a 100,000 visitors recorded in the first three days. The crowds were evident everywhere – in the exhibition halls and outside. While cars jostled for space on roads and in parking lots, inside people milled around the halls – tasting, chatting, doing business and, often, just making merry. “Vinitaly is for fun”, as one Canadian visitor announced.
For me Vinitaly was an excellent opportunity to get off the beaten track and try Italian wines which are not well known in India, or even in any other countries besides Italy. Italy is often associated with its red wines – the Barolos, Chiantis, Super Tuscans and Amarones. However, it does have plenty of exciting whites (and I’m not referring to Pinot Grigio).
This is where I decided to start my tasting. Campania offered excellent whites from Fiano, Falanghina and Greco di Tufo. Full-bodied, balanced and often with a savoury edge not common in the ‘international’ varieties, these wines were a refreshing change from the usual run of Chardonnays and Sauvignons. From Sardinia (and occasionally from the coastal areas of Tuscany) came very interesting wines from the Vermentino grape – with the grassy-green Sauvignon Blanc character tinged with a tangy, savoury edge that makes these the perfect wines for seafood.
Staying off the beaten track for reds, the stand-outs in my opinion were ‘Aglianico’ based wines from Campania (especially Taurasi DOCG), Negroamoro and Primitivo from Puglia. Aglianico is used to produce serious red wines – blackberry and violet scented, with concentration and a firm tannic structure. Negroamoro and Primitivo from Puglia based wines were more plump and fruity, with especially the delicious Negroamoro having a silky softness. The reds from Puglia will definitely find appeal with the Indian palate and a good match with some Indian cuisine, so I hope to see more of them in India in the future.
Having enjoyed the lesser known Italian varieties, I then veered back to the familiar terrain of Tuscany, the Piedmont and Veneto. The Consortium of Chianti Classico producers (Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico) provided an excellent opportunity to taste all their top wines at one stand. ‘Taste Italy’, a collection of over 100 selected wines from Italy in one room provided a quick tour of wines from around Italy. The usual stars – the Barolos and Brunellos were obviously well represented with the challenge being for the visitor to prioritise, navigate and taste. Each day ended in the same way: with palate fatigue and delight in equal measure!
A large proportion of international visitors (over 40% of the total) from around 100 countries is testimony to the popularity of Italian wine around the world. Interest in selling to India is strong among Italian producers across the board, with many actively seeking an Indian importer. The southern parts of Italy (Campania, Puglia) are an excellent hunting ground for Indian importers looking for value.
As of now, the dates for Vinitaly 2012 are Sunday, April 1 to Wednesday, April 4