#winelover’s and VinItaly

Umbria is for #winelover's

Umbria is for #winelover's

Just about a month ago I was in Verona with a group of friends to work on and participate in the first live #winelover project. Up till Vinitaly 2012, #winelover had been an online community of people who love wine and wanted to share this love through the twitter #winelover hastag and the facebook #winelover group. But once Luiz Alberto had negotiated a space and wifi with the Umbrian Wine Consortium for Vinitaly and asked Andre Ribeirinho, Onne Wan and yours truly to help him organise the event we embarked on a crazy but fun journey to make #winelover also a tangible off line experience!! In a mere two weeks we put together quite an impressive program for “Umbria is for winelover-s” hosting 2-3 events every day which included 2 MW guided tastings, a natural wine tasting and a few very animated debates. We were very fortunate to have the full support from Umbria, Vinitaly and Opera Wine (who all actively promoted our events) and I am more than a little proud to say that we had a good turn out for everything we had organised! Through live streaming at winedefender.tv we were able to share all the offline fun with our wider online community and even have some online participation into our debates. I think that this event turned #winelover into a real (rather than virtual) brand and we all have the T-shirt as proof! I am not sure what will be next for the #winelover brand and the community but I really enjoyed being part of this hectic but very pleasurable offline launch!! Especially as it meant sharing lots of special and fun wine moments together with some dear friends, meeting some amazing new people and attending my first VinItaly :-)

Vinitaly is different from any other international wine fair I have ever attended. Firstly it is mainly Italian focussed: the bulk of the exhibitors and a little over 2/3 of the fair goers are Italian. This is very different from say the London International Wine Fair, where the bulk of the trade is indeed British, but exhibitors are from all over the world, and Prowein, which is totally international.
Secondly it is huge – in fact it is the worlds second largest wine fair, there are 12 different halls covering 95,000 square metres with 4321 exhibitors and more than 160,000 visitors attending over 4 days. With that many producers and events going on and vast distances to cover one has to me more than a little organised and carefully plan one’s days including a few back up plans in case of the inevitable delays. And even if one does not naturally associates Italians with being very organised, at this event they really are as business is the only thing on everybody’s mind. According to the press dossier an average of 33 leads per exhibitor were made during the event, that is more than double the average (15) for most other events. Therefore I believe Vinitaly is a must attend event for anybody selling Italian wines (in Italy or abroad) as well as anybody wanting to sell wine in Italy.

OperaWine and Wine Spectator Grand tasting

OperaWine and Wine Spectator Grand tasting

This year Opera Wine officially opened Vinitaly with the lively press conference in collaboration with the Fondazione Altagamma:“Italian Icons: From Fashion to Wine”, where wine was firmly placed next to fashion and design as one of Italy’s luxury exports. The press conference was followed by “Finest Italian Wines:100 Great Producers”, an unprecedented tasting of the TOP 100 Italian wines in collaboration with the Winespectator. There were 2 sessions restricted to 500 guests each and this tasting definitely was one of my highlights of the fair. The quality of the wines was truly outstanding and it was wonderful to be able to talk to the producers in a fairly quiet atmosphere. I cherished the opportunity of being in a room with some of the best winemakers in the country and fell in love with the following wines:
Cantina Terlano Quarts Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Azienda Agricola Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca
Paulo Scavino Barolo Rocche dell Annunziata Riserva 2005
Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalicino Poggio al Vento Riserva 2004 (my favourite wine of the night:-) )
Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri-Sassiscaia Sassiscaia 2008

Michel Rolland at Vinitaly

Michel Rolland at Vinitaly

The actual fair started with a bang for me as Robbin Gheesling invited Onne and I to join her in an interview of Michel Rolland. We were lucky enough to taste 4 of his wines with him (Chateau le Bon Pasteur 2007 from Pomerol, Campo Eliseo 2004 from Toro, Bonne Nouvelle Cape Blend 2004 and the Mariflor Malbec 2010 from Mendoza). I really enjoyed the tasting as the wines were excellent, yet I was intrigued by how different the wines were especially when I compare them with wines of other famous flying winemakers.Michel explained that he feels a wine should be an expression of the terroir rather than the winemaker, something I whole heartedly agree with! Michel also spoke about how the wine world has changed and the quality of wine in general improved significantly during his career. He told us that times have never been as good for #winelover’s - and he knows as he’s a long time winelover and he now also has the t-shirt to prove it :-) However as we left he reminded us that drinking a glass of wine should be pleasurable – so we need to drink what brings us pleasure rather than follow the lead of others. Some excellent advise from a genuinely nice wine rock star!!

Debra Meiburg guided Woman and Wine tasting

Debra Meiburg guided Woman and Wine tasting

The other person I had the pleasure of meeting at Vinitaly was Debra Meiburg MW. Debra is an amazing #winelover ambassador – and our most active participant the the #winelover activities. She volunteered to be a panel member for both of our debates and contributed very graciously but actively in both discussions. Debra has a wealth of experience in wine and in social media where she actively shares some of her knowledge. I had read about her tongue and cheek approach to wine tasting but I have to admit to have been spell bound in the guided “Woman and Wine” tasting she hosted for us. Debra has the perfect knack to break down something that can be quite complicated into easy to understand bit parts and to make you feel totally at ease. We tasted 4 wines, 2 from Piedmont (a Barbaresco and a Barolo), one from Tuscany (a Brunello) and one from Umbria. All wines had been made by female winemakers and all four wines were outstanding. It was extremely interesting to taste these 4 wines side by side as it gave me a good overview of the regions and grape varieties.

These were my highlights from an amazing 5 days with fellow #winelover’s at Vinitaly. I have been racking my brains to find any disappointments and the only one I can think of is having missed the Peter Koff MW guided Italian wine tasting. Unfortunately our lifts back home left a little early and Onne and I had to forgo the tasting. We have, however, heard that the tasting was amazing! So I hope to meet Peter at another fair or wine event and to be able to attend one of his tastings at that time – who knows maybe even on Georgian Kvevris (amphora) wines :-)

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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  • Onne

    Wonderful article and great memories Caroline! Well done!

    • http://www.missinwine.com/ Caroline Henry

      Thank you Onne!