Earlier this month Kelsey and I spent 15 days in Italy, which started at Vinitaly in Verona. Vinitaly is the biggest Italian wine trade show in the world with over 4,000 vendors from every region in Italy. It’s organized chaos which is a step up from daily life in Italy which is usually just plain unorganized ( I can say this having lived there!). I do have to give the event some credit as the attendance continues to grow but yet each year they manage to pull it off. However, the small city of Romeo and Juliet doesn’t have the means to handle the large amount of people that embark on Verona for four days in April. Many Italians argue this event would be best in Milan, but don’t expect Verona to give it up. Like all things belonging to particular parts of Italy the people of Verona take great pride in hosting the event, regardless if they are in the wine industry or not. It’s like the Patriots playing in Foxboro, no one really understands why they still play there as it’s a huge pain in the ass to get to. The traffic is awful but Bob Kraft will continue to build up his shopping malls so that even if we have to sit in traffic for 3 hours at least we can stop at Bass Pro Shops on the way out.
Arriving to Vinitaly is always the first challenge. Even if you come on a shuttle bus from the train station which is just a couple kilomoters from the expo, a walkable distance, it will take you 30 minutes to arrive. Driving in from in or around the city is a nightmare but maybe a little easier than driving home after everyone has had a few glasses of wine.
On to the important stuff, the show…
I consider myself now an experienced Vinitaly veteran having attended the show the past couple years. This is a bigger advantage than one would think as the event is massive but has a constant blue print in terms of the map from year to year. Each region is more or less given their own pavilion and attendees race from pavilion to pavilion throughout the course of the day weaving in and out of different regions of Italy. It’s a cool feeling being able to taste a wine in “Sicily” and quickly move across the way to “Emilia Romagna.”
Within each pavilion the different production zones are separated so in Sicily you will find all the Mt. Etna wines together as well as those of Cerasuolo and the wines from Trapani etc. In theory it sounds very organized! However with the shear amount of producers in each pavilion it’s still easy to get lost or not necessarily understand how individual booths are numbered, if you have a specific producer you are looking for.
The event is exhausting – yes, I know you feel really bad for me that I had to drink Italian wine all day in Verona – but from a working standpoint this is important. When we taste wine we only have a certain capacity before everything starts to mesh together, this is known as palate fatigue. This can improve which lots of practice, but even mentally you can just start to check out at the end of each day.
A quick note on what I enjoyed from the 2014 show…
I spent a lot of time tasting new vintages from those I currently work with and friends of mine who I don’t. However when I did get to taste “new wines” I was really impressed with the wines from Campania and Sicily. In both of these regions I’m noticing more young producers than previous years and a continued devotion to indigenous varietals. They’re becoming more and more important throughout Italy.
With the increase in sparkling wine consumption I have also noticed, at Vinitaly and also in my travel, that many producers are taking their crack at producing sparkling wines. Not only this but they are producing sparklers from their indigenous varietals like Pecorino, Arneis or Nero D’Avola! Keep your eye out for these in the Mucci Imports portfolio soon.