Last month, I visited the annual wine fair in Verona, Italy called VinItaly. It’s the second most important wine fair in Europe (ProWein in Dusseldorf, Germany is a bigger deal), and it is always fun and informative.
Now, since I am lucky enough to live nearby (in fact I lived in Verona for six years!), I am a pretty frequent visitor to VinItaly. I think this year must be somewhere around the 14th or 15th time I have gone.
Usually, I drop by to say hello to some old wine friends, then I go exploring. This year was no exception. I stopped to chat with Maddalena Pasqua, who owns and runs the Musella Winery (just outside of Verona. She has moved her production to almost 100% biodynamic over the last 8 years or so, and the results are fantastic.
Next stop was to see my dear Tuscan friend, Susanna Crociani. She came back to the family business maybe 12 or 13 years ago, when her father took ill. About 6 years ago, her brother Giorgio suddenly passed away, leaving Susanna to run everything. She’s done a terrific job. Her wines are better now than when she took over, she has a wonderful country B&B just outside Montepulciano, and she continues to enhance her reputation as a world-class winemaker.
Finally, I went to the Piedmont pavilion to find Giuseppino Anfossi, who owns the Ghiomo winery in the village of Guarene, very near Alba. If you have read my novel “The Salome Effect,” you’ll recognize the Ghiomo name – I mention one of his wines, called “Ruit Ora.” Go get some!
Visits over, I then decided to explore (meaning taste, of course) the wines from the Italian region of Marche. This little known region lies quietly on Italy’s central east coast. For now, Marche is not especially recognized as a top wine producer, but based on my tastings, that is about to change.
I’ll single out two wines from Marche, as I was very impressed with what I tasted. The first is from Cantina Le Caniette. “Veronica” is a light in color but structured in aroma white made from 100% use of top quality Pecorino grapes. Yep, that is pecorino, just like the terrific cheese, and yes they do pair quite well!
The other excellent wine from Marche was called LiCoste from the Domodimonti cellars. This is also a Pecorino grape wine and it is superb. The color is like honey, the nose has flowers and tropical fruit tones, and the taste is an event you’ll want to repeat – I got banana, tangerine, and peaches.
My take away from VinItaly is that you should start looking for white wines made from the Pecorino grape. Right now it is not one of the superstar grapes in Italian wine production, but it makes excellent wine, and I expect it will become well respected in the next few years.