On Saturday 10 May, at London's Lancaster hotel, wine lovers and Decanter readers will have the opportunity to taste some of Italy's greatest wines and meet the men and women who make them. Read Ian D'Agata's preview of the main highlights in what he says is the most impressive Italian Fine Wine Encounter yet.
The Fine Wine Encounters are unusual in bringing onto the same tasting floor both very large and very small estates, some quite famous and others destined to become tomorrow’s stars, and Decanter’s upcoming Italian event is no different.
For example, Prosecco lovers need to look no further than Bisol and Col Vetoraz, benchmark producers for this very typical Italian sparkler. Though unfortunately a lot of uninteresting, somewhat insipid Prosecco is still being made, you simply can’t do much better than Bisol’s Crede bottling, arguably Italy’s best Brut Prosecco. And there’s no argument at all with the Cartizze from Col Vetoraz, recognized as the country’s best by every wine expert worth the ink in his or her pen. Both wines will give you an appreciation of why Prosecco, with its pristine white flower and white peach aromas and flavours, can be one of the world’s greatest, and not just simply fun, sparkling wines anywhere.
Should your tastes veer to the more complex, weightier aroma and flavour profiles typical of Champagne, you can’t beat Ca’ del Bosco or Bellavista, universally considered the quality leaders in Franciacorta. If you don’t know Franciacorta, these very serious wines will impress.
Should you prefer big, full bodied reds, Barolo, Brunello and Amarone are all well represented. Barolos by Elvio Cogno will allow a glimpse in to the wines made around the hamlet of Novello, altogether different from those made by Rocche dei Manzoni, an estate located in Monforte d’Alba, where bigger wines are usually the norm. Ceretto, which owns vineyards in many other townships, offers still different takes on this great wine; once again, the Fine Wine Encounter allows wine lovers to meet three of Barolo’s very best producers and to learn more about this iconic production area by tasting their wines.
Similarly, all those who love Brunello will be thrilled to taste the steely, flinty wines from Il Marroneto in Montalcino’s cooler northern microclimate and compare them to Col d’Orcia’s Brunello, a much bigger, fleshier wine made in Montalcino’s southern reaches. Valpolicella and Amarone enthusiasts will have a field day with the likes of Masi and Tommasi, and there are no better Chianti Classico producers in Italy than Isole e Olena and Felsina, or better Chianti Rufina efforts than those by Frescobaldi.
This years’ masterclasses are an especially impressive trio. Wine lovers will rarely get a chance to enjoy a better series of Barolos from different vintages than those of Ceretto (11am masterclass), made from wildly different sites such as Brunate and Prapo’.
The Tuscan masterclass (1.30pm) is quite simply a standout collection of Italy’s finest producers with benchmark wines for each appellation chosen: for example, of Suvereto (Tua Rita), Carmignano (Capezzana) and Vino Nobile (Boscarelli). This is where you’ll taste world-class Merlots such as Redigaffi (a super expensive cult wine) or the original Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon mix, Carmignano,
Last but not least, the Italy’s Vintage Masterpiece masterclass (4pm) is a once in a lifetime opportunity to taste old, rare and very expensive wines: for example, the 1990 Rancia Riserva by Felsina, considered one of the 30 greatest Chianti Classicos ever made, or the 1990 Poggio al Vento Riserva Brunello by Col d’Orcia, also justly believed to be one of the 30 or so all-time great Brunellos. On a more academic note, the Vigna Elena Barolo by Cogno will allow a taste of the rare Nebbiolo Rose’ variety, which gives a similar but yet very different wine from the Barolo wine lovers are most familiar with. Last but not least, the Verdicchio Balciana, a single-vineyard wine reminiscent of late harvest Alsatian whites, and the oak aged La Rocca Soave by Pieropan will show just how accomplished Italian white wines can be, and with a little age on them, a further treat.
Great Discovery Theatre seminars:
For those looking to discover an array of new Italian wine stars on the scene, look no further than the Discovery Theatre, hosted by award-winning Italian retail specialists Vini Italiani. Three fascinating tastings will take place, including a Sangiovese comparison and a tasting of volcanic wines produced around Mount Etna.
Though Fine Wine Encounters always provide a wonderful moment in wine tasting, it’s safe to say there has never been a more impressive Italian Fine Wine Encounter yet. Book your tickets today at decanter.com/events
Written by Ian D’Agata