BY RICK RIOZZA
Verrrroooom! Winds the engine as I’m off in my 5-speed Lancia rental car for an impromptu espresso & wine tour around the entirety of Lake Garda. I’ve got my James Bond on while whisking in an out of quaint and charming ensconces of lakeside villages. This large beautiful lake still appears as emerging from the immense craggy and rugged Alps crashing in upon it. The two-lane highway ride is exhilarating, and, probably one of the best ways to close out Vinitaly 2018.
At my last writing, I was just getting into Verona, where the famous VinItaly 2018 Wine Exhibition was being held. A wine event for a lifetime; incredibly, the four day affair showcased over 4,200 wine exhibitions, tastings, seminars, including all of the prominent Italian wineries along with their wines.
The Verona venue, known as the Veronafiere Exhibition Center, is almost as large as Disneyland with at least ten aircraft-sized buildings—or exhibition halls—with the fair indeed seeming like a Disneyland for wine drinking adults. Travelers from all over the wine world mixed and mingled with all the vino cognoscenti. At times, with a dazzling crowd dressed to the nines, in and out of wine stations set up and appearing like expensive storefronts on El Paseo, it was like we were part of a cinematic setting in an Italian Vogue Magazine layout.
Even a full four days wasn’t enough time to ferret out all of the Italian wines that we dream of. Every wine area of Italy (and yes the world knows that l’Italia is simply one elongated vineyard!) from the barreling Barolos and Barbarescos of Piemonte, through the gorgeous Tuscan Sangiovese, across the Sangrantinos of Umbria, covering Campagna’s intense Aglianico del Vulture, Apuglia’s promising Primitivo and settling in on the scintillating wines of Sicily—I’ve got enough material to inundate this column throughout its entire tenure. But of course I’ll be judicious!
A fascinating aspect to this Italian expo, was its full stamp of approval of organic and biodynamic wines. We’ve all known that the European wine community has forever and a day embraced general biodynamic wine farming. As wine stewards, we hear all the time of folks complaining of headaches and other ailments that prohibit their enjoyment of domestic vino. So we’ve been quick to recommend
European wines that utilize a minimal amount of pesticides and fungicides—if they use any at all.
It was my pleasure to attend a series of wine seminars at Vinitaly 2018, under the name and aegis of FederBIO- Italian Federation of Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture. Here we enjoyed a varied line-up of 100% organic wines from almost every wine area of Italy. How wonderful an effort that combined a stellar selection of organic wines brought and poured at our seminar tables. There’s nothing like being waited upon.
A large area in the exhibition hall was designated for Bio tasting stations which included seventy Italian wineries professing biodynamic policies and producing Certified Organic wines. At the seminar tastings, we met and heard from the winemakers and winery representatives. As one would expect, this group was made up of a conglomeration of famers, investors, scientists, agronomists, et cetera, that all bespeaks the nature of the game of wine—and they rightfully claim that organic is now & forever!
Of particular interest to our desert wine community, I desired to link up in Italy with a couple of wise wine folk who have previously brought their wines to our valley and thrilled us with their lively wine portfolio: Marina Elettra Snow, owner of DOCG Imports, and Brian Cuddy, owner of The Organic Cellar.
You wine fans will remember Marina and her DOCG wines that she poured at the inaugural Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival. We especially loved her Sardinian wines, and, I couldn’t wait to interview her at a later date for an article on her company and entire portfolio. When I called her to schedule, we both found out we’d be at Vinitaly! Va bene! How fun would that be to interview her here!
Previously, at an Italian wine tasting in Los Angeles, I met Brian who I heard about from our local organic wine gal, Annie Arnold of the Organic Wine Exchange, who is always pouring her portfolio at winemaker dinners around town. I had heard Brian was off to Vinitaly as well, and, I hoped to check-in with him there. I recently recommended in these pages his Spanish brand Intruso, produced
from the Monastrell grape; it’s from the 2011 vintage, quite delicious, and a box wine to boot!
Unfortunately, my luggage was lost when I arrived in Italy and it never showed up. Fortunately I lived out of my carry-on and that’s got me by: But hey! I’m in Italy!—nothing’s getting me down!
However, no longer having Marina’s nor Brian’s number, I missed their contact. Stay tuned for their fun experiences and their portfolio coverage in the up-coming columns.
In a visual juxtaposition, Verona still feels like a Romeo & Juliette Shakespearean town, where strolling the streets you can almost feel the romance in this “Italian City of Love”. Dante, the famous Italian poet who wrote The Divine Comedy, fleeing from Florence, found hospitality in Verona, as so did us wine hound group of somms, wine pros, and vino buyers enjoying the good graces of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Texas. Thanks to all and great getting to know our American band of quaffers; looking forward to perhaps yet another vino entrancing escapade.
Saluté!—and here’s to you . . . from Verona with love.