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En Route to Italy…

Photo credit.

There’s lots going on at TEW next week, leading into our French Portfolio Tasting. The ladies are heading to Burgundy, and Greg, our Italian Portfolio Director, and Ryan are leaving for Italy!  With Vinitaly 2012 now scheduled for March 25-28, Sunday through Wednesday, as opposed to the usual weekend, Greg and Ryan are able to extend their trip to include visits with many of our producers.

Spending three days at Vinitaly itself, which is located in Verona, Greg and Ryan will meet here with our current producers and taste their most recent vintages.  And because a majority of our producers make under 100,000 bottles a year, it is at Vinitaly that they will determine our year’s allocations.

Speaking of artisanal producers, the dynamic duo will begin their trip at Frascole in Tuscany, a producer that recently joined our book, after Greg met them at last year’s Vinitaly. A small estate  that’s been practicing organic agriculture since 1998, Frascole, which is just outside of Chianti Classico in Rufina, has vineyards at great elevations.  Here, their 15ha of vineyards sit at 500m on the hill of Frascole, alongside 9ha of olive groves.  Practicing old school blending techniques, Frascole includes 5% White Tribbiano and White Malvasia in their Bitornino, a Chianti DOCG wine.

Map source

The next morning, they’ll drive back north to the heart of Valpolicella, Veneto, to visit with the brothers Umberto and Guiseppe Zaconte of Ca Del Monte, whose family has been producing wine for six generations.  With some of the highest vineyards in Negrar, that are planted with 20-40 year old vines of Corvina, Rodinella and Molinara, their 20ha of vineyards sit right above the property of Quintarelli, the classic Amarone producer.

Driving through the mountains to the northern most point of Alto-Adige, Ryan and Greg will next visit Erste e Neue, one of the area’s first wine co-operatives that was established in 1900, and currently has over 500 growers.  Tracking the quality of their wines over the years, Greg says that in the past 3-4 years, the quality of wines made under Gerhard Sanin has gone through the roof.

From here, they’ll drive down to the eastern side of the Adige River, just north of Trento, to meet and taste with Giuseppe Fanti, who Greg describes as a “mad-scientist kind of guy”.  Producing approximately 30,000 bottles a year, Fanti makes some of the highest elevation whites in the area. Employing sustainable farming techniques, he was the first to yield the white varietal Manzoni Bianco at 600m.

Spending three days at Vinitaly, where the Piemonte pavilion is as large as the Javits Center (and there are around 20 different such pavilions), Ryan, who’s visiting Vinitaly for the first time, is eager to explore specific areas, while meeting up with our producers and connecting with a few customers.

And as if all this fabulousness weren’t enough, they’re ending their ten-day journey with a trip to the coastal Friuli/Carso area, where Italy meets Slovenia.  Ending where neither have travelled before, Greg and Ryan will visit old varietals and ancient sites, perhaps taste a few skin-fermented whites along the way, before heading home, when I expect they’ll have news of new additions to our Italian portfolio.

Buon Viaggio Gents!

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