Vinitaly 2016

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Chuck Bishop, Logistics and Purchasing Manager

True passion.  I know it’s something that flows through every winemaker’s veins, but I can’t imagine there are many places in the world where that passion is as visually and viscerally evident, than in Italy.  My first experience of Vinitaly was something I will surely not forget, and it was mainly due to the individuals involved.

Before the fair, I was fortunate enough to visit two of my favorite wineries in the Kindred Vines portfolio, The Tuscan estate of Moris farms and Ronco Calino in Franciacorta.  Within an hour of landing in Pisa, I was driving up the Cypress lined dirt road that leads to the Moris property outside of Massa Marittima.  Upon arrival I was greeted by the resident pack of Wild Boar and the always affable Giulio Parentini, a man I have known for many years.  He was a different person while walking the grounds of his family’s historic estate.  So proud of the land and its history, his sheer enthusiasm made it feel like it was the most important tour that he had ever given.  At lunch I was able to taste the fresh and fantastic 2015 vintages of Vermentino and Mandriolo Rosato, as well as revisit the rich and powerful 2010 Avvoltore.  The 2015 Mandriolo Rosato was crisp, sharp,  and elegant  and it opened my eyes to one of the most enjoyable trends that I experienced during this trip.  The incredible range of styles and quality of the 2015 Italian Rosatos.

Next stop was Ronco Calino in Franciacorta, the region of Lombardy known for its sparkling wines.  Lara Radici, wife of founder Paolo Radici, took us on a tour of their property which resides in one of the few wine growing regions of the world where the wine is named after the place, joining the only slightly more famous Champagne and Cava.  The Metodo Classico sparkling wines of Ronco Calino are wonderful and certainly just as beautiful and refined as the products of that aforementioned appellation in France.

The fair itself was certainly a spectacle in the best sense of the word.  I had heard stories of the “Italian way of doing things” when it came to a massive event like this, and that was the part I enjoyed the best.  Even though there were attendees from all over the world; the Italian flair, style and passion was definitely at the forefront.

The first highlight of the convention was an in-depth tasting with the quiet and intensely purposeful winemaker, Antonio Fattori.  The wines of Fattori have also been in our portfolio for years, but after an hour with Antonio, I saw everything in a whole new light.  We started with an extended sampling of Metodo Classico Durello, worked through his intensely layered Soaves and red wines, and finished with the incredible Recioto de Soave.  A memorable experience for sure.

The wines of Vini Montauto, made by the gregarious Riccardo Lepri, were also showing very well.  His maiden vintage of Rosé was phenomenal (50% Ciliegiolo 50% Merlot) as were the 2015 Vermentino and 2015 Gessaia.  We also tasted a 100% Metodo Classico Sangiovese which was interesting to say the least.

Positive family atmosphere certainly filled the booth of Antico Colle, which was a much needed sentiment at that point in the day.  Three generations of the Frangiosas welcomed me in and each took turns walking me through the lineup.  This Tuscan estate is producing some high QPR wines, and I see a breakthrough year for Kindred Vines right around the corner.

I would have to say that my most “Italian” experience of Vinitaly was when Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made a very public and orchestrated pass through the Friuli / Alto Adige building while I was tasting with Alan Gaddi and Marta Locatelli of Tenuta di Angoris.  Now the 2015 Villa Locatelli whites were shockingly good, but not as shocking as the fervent chants of “Buffone!  Buffone!  Buffone!” that appeared out of nowhere as Renzi made his appearance about 15 feet from the table I was sitting at.  Now whether or not I have any opinion on if the Italian Prime Minister is actually a “Buffone”, I certainly enjoyed the spontaneous and intense emotion that seemed to erupt out of nowhere, and then fade back into business as usual.  All with no punches being thrown and feelings being hurt like we might see at similar demonstrations here in the United States, especially those involving copious amounts of alcohol.

Vinitaly was definitely an incredibly eye-opening and educational journey for me personally and I see great things ahead for the Italian portfolio of Kindred Vines Import Company.  The energy, focus and, of course, passion behind the Italian wine industry is unavoidable and quickly gets into your bloodstream.

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