Vinitaly, Italy’s largest and premium wine and spirits trade fair celebrated its 40th birthday recently with a 10%-15% increase in global business. “It has been the best Vinitlay in 30 years,” commented Angelo Gaja.
“It has been a very positive Vinitaly,” echoed Sandro Boscaini, CEO of Masi- “There was a notable increase in premium foreign buyers from Asia, Central America and other far-placed countries. Finally we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and pull-out of the prevailing slump.” Read more coverage in our next print edition.
Vinitaly 2006 registered 144,000 visitors over the five days, (an increase on last year’s 143.000 visitors), a total of 4,200 exhibitors from over 30 countries and 2,600 press from over 50 different nationalities.
Seminars, guided tastings and food and wine pairings are all part of the show. This year to celebrate the 40th anniversary Veronafiere organized a unique international seminar examining the elements shaping the future of international winemaking presided and monitored by Serena Sutcliffe, MW.
Angelo Gaja, the ‘Maestro of Piedmont’
The title “The Young Lions of Winemaking…The Way to the Future”, showcased a panel of – mainly – young premium wine producers such as Jean Baptise Lecaillon of Champagne Louis Roederer; Philippe Guigal; Angelo Gaja;Peter Sisseck of Pingus; David Powell of Torbreck.
“The producers on this panel are symbolic of all those who will be making wine over the next decades,” said Sutcliffe. “They are aware of the markets and the challenges they face as winemakers.”
Sutcliffe and the panel discussed a number of current issues, such as the climate, which is getting warmer, ever fiercer competition and the changing wine styles. “Should producers be sticking to traditional methods?….should we be looking for new origins for the oak we use?….and should wines be made to drink young or cellared for years?” were some of the key issues discussed by the panel.
Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta, the owner of Sassicaia
Italy’s trade magazine Civiltà del Bere hosted an equally well-attended tasting and panel of top Italian winemakers entitled ‘Italy’s Mythical Wines’ which showcased Italy’s top ‘mythical’ wines voted by the international trade, restaurateurs and journalists. These included: Ferrari’s Riserva del Fondatore 1995; Giacomo Contrno’s Barolo Monfortino Riserva 2001: Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s Masseto 1997 and Sassicaia 1998.
Among the hype and buzz of the show’s success, words of wisdom rang out from Lamberto Vallarino, CEO of Gancia reminding Italian producers that Italy’s hottest competition comes from New World wines. “In order to compete with these markets we still need to focus on quality, terroir and geographical indication which are part of our heritage and wealth, while keeping a check on pricing.”
Though Vinitaly remains Italy’s most important wine trade fair, it is evident that its 80.000 square metres of exhibiting space is bursting at the seams. The yearly problems related to lack of parking, lack of hotel rooms, and terrible traffic congestion are ever present. It is obviously a trade fair which the sector cannot do without, yet at the same time it has many unresolved problems, including that of crowded exhibit halls that often lack proper ventialton.
Over the past two or three years the organizers of Veronafiere have made a conscious effort to curtail the entrance to the general public and increase facilities for the trade. A noted increase in foreign visitors and restaurateurs set a new record over previous years.
“A defnite new wave of hope in the wine world seems to have brought a positive trend to business, with particular focus on exports,” said Renzo Cotarella, MD to Antinori. Italy’s main export market remains USA, followed by Germany and UK, with markets such as Japan, Russia, India and China, slowly catching up.
According to ISTAT (Italy’s official statistics department), Italy’s 2005 wine and spirit exports were up by 9,2% and Italy’s exports to countries outside the EU were up by a total 269% on 2004 – from 134,000 hectolitres in 2004 to 493,000 hectolitres registered in 2005.
Michele Shah, from Italy.