To Life, To Life, L’Chaim!

Today I participated in the Young to Young tasting for up-and-coming winemakers. It was a morning filled with emotions. Three heavy hitters: a Brunello di Montalcino, a Barolo and an Amarone. All this before noon!

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Yours truly swishing that Brunello. This is hard work!

At this 50th annual Vinitaly, we’ve been talking about traditions and family and the land (more than the ‘terroir’). This meeting was filled with the pride of knowing where you come from, of recognizing your roots. The producers, and the wines, talked.

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Jessica Pellegrini of Fattoria del Pino loves nature and new adventures. She produces 6300 bottles of Brunello, mostly destined for export. “It isn’t work,” she says, “it’s a passion.” In the glass, it has all the characteristics one would expect of Brunello, starting from the color. On the palate, it has the fruit and spice and body one expects from a Brunello.

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This one was young, like its producer, and will certainly not disappoint in the future. Let’s hope it’s an indicator of what is still to come from Jessica Pellegrini. The Brunello actually got applause, and it was the Barolo producer who started it. “That’s a first!” commented Paolo Massobrio of Il Golosario, who along with Marco Gatti is responsible for the Young to Young tastings.

The next producer was Nicola Oberto of La Morra, who makes Barolo. His label is Trediberri. He is so proud of his origins that he brought along the map of the 11 towns that produce Barolo and explained just why his plot is so special.

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His enthusiasm and love of the land filled the room. Oberto, a graduate of the prestigious Italian Bocconi University specialized in finance, considers himself a lucky guy to have been born in that special corner of the world. And is he wrong?

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They make 35,000 bottles of which 10,000 are Barolo. At the end of his speech, Nicola teared up describing how he and his father work together to make a dream come true. When they poured the Barolo, we knew it would take time to really enjoy the bouquet, but we have a mission here, so on to the tasting. The strong tannins remind you that this is a young Barolo, but one that promises well, like its producer.

The last producer, Gabriele Righetti, is so young he’s still at university! The label is Vigneti di Ettore (Hector’s Vineyards) and Ettore is his grandfather. Here you have it: tradition, family, land.

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The family makes Amarone, Valpolicella Classica, Ripasso di Valpolicella and Recioto. What more do you want from a Veneto winemaker? They are using the traditional grapes, Corvina, Croatina, Rondinella, but also cultivating some of the ‘almost forgotten’ cultivars like Oseleta and Dindarella.

In the glass, this big Amarone still has the ruby red color of a wine that is going to live a long time, on the palate it is big bodied, full, fruity and… dangerous! At 16%, this is a heavy hitter that goes down so smooth you could spend a meditative moment with it… But don’t drive afterwards!

Price you say? € 45 for the Brunello, € 27 for the Barolo, € 30 for the Amarone. All of them truly a good deal!

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I had two questions for the producers: What is the biggest challenge they are facing? And what is their dream for their winemaking activity? The answers are fascinating.

Jessica Pellegrini said that the fact that she is a woman who makes wine was an enormous challenge. She is happiest on a tractor or wearing her big workboots out in the vineyard, but sitting down at the computer for marketing and sales reasons wasn’t really for her. Her dream is to create something tangible, something she can hand down to her son.

Nicola Oberto says his biggest challenge is to make a wine that truly satisfies him. He aims for quality, which for a Barolo maker means patience. “We began to make Barolo in 2011, but you have to wait 5 years to see if you made a mistake before you can correct it.” And his dream? “To get married!” Nicola wants to bring his future wife to the winery, to make it a family enterprise. “Thousands of people would like to be in my place. I’m so grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to be born at La Morra.”

Gabriele Righetti, who is still studying, realizes that in addition to his technical expertise, he needs to have experience… years of experience. Truly a challenge. His dream? “Wine is something extra, something special, it adds something nice to your day or to your life. It’s for sharing.” And he would like to share this aspect, to let people appreciate something that makes life more beautiful.

Quite coincidentally, yesterday I wrote about the great Italian families of wine. Today’s encounter with young winemakers confirmed the values that underly the success in this business: passion, pride, determination, patience, gratitude. Thank you, Young Italian winemakers and… Buona fortuna!

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From left to right: Marco Gatti, Gabriele Righetti, Jessica Pellegrini, Paolo Massobrio, Nicola Oberto

 

 

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