The 54th edition of the Vinitaly International Wine and Spirits Exhibition concluded April 13 in Verona, Italy, and Wine Spectator was there, kicking off the festivities with the 11th annual OperaWine: Finest Italian Wines tasting starring 130 of Italy's leading wineries. The four-day Italian wine fair featured dozens of conferences, epic tastings and thousands of wine lovers from around the world. Our editors on the scene have shared just a small sampling of their Vinitaly 2022 highlights ….
Historical Super Tuscans Committee Makes Its Vinitaly Debut
On April 10, the Historical Super Tuscans Committee hosted an inaugural tasting at Vinitaly. The group was recently founded to protect and enhance the value of super Tuscans by disseminating the history and the vision of the winemakers who created the category. The wines we know today as super Tuscans were originally classified as simple vino da tavola (table wine) because, in the interest of achieving higher quality, they did not conform to the established practices and grape requirements of the region's DOCs and DOCGs.
Most of the early super Tuscan production was centered on the Chianti Classico region, and the Historical Super Tuscans Committee focuses on those created prior to the introduction of the Toscana IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) category in 1992. The 16 founding members are San Felice, Antinori, Montevertine, Castello di Monsanto, Castellare di Castellina, Isole e Olena, Badia a Coltibuono, Querciabella, Castello di Fonterutoli, A&G Folonari, Riecine, Felsina, Castello di Volpaia, Castello di Ama, Castello di Albola and Brancaia. Piero Antinori is the Founder of Honor; Paolo Panerai, owner of Castellare di Castellina, is the committee’s president; and Davide Profeti, CEO of San Felice, serves as vice president. San Felice made the first super Tuscan, Vigorello, in 1968.—Bruce Sanderson
Joe Bastianich Takes the Stage
It’s not all work and no play at Vinitaly. Wine lovers and industry professionals alike took to the fairgrounds April 10 to catch The Third Class, a bluegrass-influenced band helmed by winery owner–restaurateur Joe Bastianich. The concert was held in the Cortile Mercato Vecchio, just off the historic Piazza delle Erbe, as part of the “Vinitaly and the City” event series in Verona’s historic center.
“Music and wine are the two passions of my life,” said guitarist–lead singer Bastianich. “And after a lifetime of wine and food … at 50-plus years, I’m lucky I get to combine my two passions, and any chance I get to put them together, I do.”—Alison Napjus
Pasqua Vini’s ‘Amygdala .n’ Lights Up the Palazzo Maffei Casa Museo
The Baroque façade of the 17th-century Palazzo Maffei in Verona’s Piazza delle Erbe was bathed in a captivating projected light show on the nights of April 10 and 11. Veneto’s Pasqua winery sponsored the art installation, titled Amygdala .n. Under the creative direction of Fuse* studio and curated by Reasoned Art, it was a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new.
Employing an algorithm that scans 30 tweets per second and interprets their emotional content as pictures and sounds, Amygdala .n “records the emotional temperature of the world through the analysis of what is happening on social media and transforms the flow of data into a work of art,” read a statement from Pasqua winery.
“It’s a project that started long ago,” said Pasqua CEO Riccardo Pasqua. “The artists saw Palazzo Maffei as the perfect spot to make this installation—the most beautiful palace of the most beautiful square of our city. And the narrative, the substance behind the spectacular effect on the face of the palace—it was amazing.”—A.N.
Antinori Introduces Single-Vineyard Chianti Classico Project
Tuscany’s Antinori will soon be releasing a new lineup of single-vineyard Chianti Classicos from new property acquisitions.
San Sano was purchased in 2014. At 1,400 feet above sea level, its shallow soils are very rocky, a mix of limestone-based alberese and clay-based galestro. “I love this place, as it is able to produce wines very refined, intense, vertical and mineral, with plenty of red fruit,” said Antinori CEO Renzo Cotarella.
The Capraia estate (not to be confused with an independent Chianti Classico property of the same name) in Castellina was acquired in 2017 and sits at an elevation of about 1,100 feet. “Probably we will not be allowed to use the name Capraia, but it doesn’t matter,” explained Cotarella. “The vineyard has great potential and its grapes are able to produce a wine that is deep, expressing a touch of dark fruit together with red ones.”
Villa di Cigliano is in the municipality of San Casciano Val di Pesa. This estate actually belonged to Antinori until the late 19th century, when it was acquired by another branch of the family, but was purchased back by Antinori in early 2020. The style of wines is rich and deep and it’s one of the earliest-ripening sites in the appellation.
“We bought [these vineyards] to be fully self-sufficient in the Chianti Classico appellation, in order to fulfill the need for grapes for our Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva,” said Cotarella, “but then we realized that these three vineyards all have a strong identity because of the place, elevation, exposure and soil characteristics.”
Cigliano and San Sano may be available with the 2020 vintage, while all three were made in 2021, albeit in limited quantities.—B.S.
Veneto’s Tommasi Winery Hits the Slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna
The Tommasi family, which this year celebrates 120 years as producers of Amarone in Veneto’s Valpolicella area, announced the acquisition of a 36-acre property in the town of Linguaglossa on Mount Etna. The agreement was signed with the Bambara-De Luca family, longtime hoteliers in the nearby seaside town of Taormina, and it includes a 16,000-square-foot cellar facility as well as vines planted to Etna’s distinctive Nerello Mascalese and Carricante grape varieties.
“Etna is an area that has always fascinated us,” executive director Pierangelo Tommasi told Wine Spectator. “It is almost mystical with the presence of the volcano and the breathtaking views that reach the sea of Taormina. [It is] a territory marked by different lava flows, where we want to test ourselves as winegrowers, more than as wine entrepreneurs.”
With this expansion to Sicily, Tommasi Family Estates now owns over 1,900 acres of vineyards spread among estates throughout Italy, with much of that growth taking place in the past 25 years. Along with Tommasi in Veneto and the yet-to-be-named property in Sicily, the family also produces wine from two different winery locations in Tuscany, a winery each in Lombardy, Basilicata and Puglia, and an upcoming project in Umbria scheduled for 2023. Of their new Sicilian estate, Tommasi added, “We will respect the characteristics and traditions of the territory of Etna, but we are the first Venetians to arrive there and we will certainly bring an entrepreneurial impulse inherent in our nature that will be a stimulus for everyone in the region.”—A.N.
Soave’s Leonildo Pieropan Opens New Eco-Friendly Winery
Leonildo Pieropan winery, a historic leader from Veneto’s Soave region, continued the innovative spirit of its late winemaker, Leonildo Pieropan (named for the winery’s founder, his grandfather), with the official launch of a groundbreaking new winery on April 14. While the much smaller, former winemaking facility was housed across the street from the medieval-age, crenellated Castello di Soave, the new facility boasts an eco-friendly footprint and is integrated into the hillsides above the town.
“Yes, it is beautiful,” says winemaker Andrea Pieropan, son of Leonildo, “because it is 107,000 square feet, [much of which] you don’t see—they are inside the hill—and because the materials used are all local.” The energy-efficient winery was designed by architect Moreno Zurlo of Verona’s A.c.M.e. Studio and used construction materials that will further blend into the hillside with age.
A new wine, Calvarino 5, was also presented at the inauguration. A blend of five vintages (2012 through 2008) of Pieropan’s single-vineyard Soave Calvarino, the wine was aged on the lees in cement tank for 10 years before bottling last year.—A.N.
Timorasso’s Time to Shine?
Timorasso, Piedmont’s trending white grape from the Colli Tortonesi, may be getting its own Denominazione di Origine Controllata. Currently under the overriding Colli Tortonesi DOC, if the 2021 proposal is approved, the new Derthona DOC would be exclusively for Timorasso. The defined production area would include a minimum altitude guaranteeing production from the hills of the proposed DOC and include additional designations of Derthona Riserva and Piccolo Derthona, based on yield per acre, aging and release dates. In a nod to sustainability, the bottle weight for Derthona DOC wines would not be permitted to exceed 600 grams (21.2 ounces).
Derthona is the historic name for Tortona, the town that lends its name to the region. Currently, there are fewer than 500 acres of Timorasso planted in Colli Tortonesi. In the past five years, several major Barolo producers have added Timorasso to their range, including Borgogno, La Spinetta, Oddero, Pio Cesare, Vietti and Voerzio Martini.—B.S.
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