Va, pensiero! A Chorus of Italian Wine

Since Vinitaly kicks off each year with the Wine Spectator-sponsored event, Opera Wine, I thought it would be appropriate to choose an operatic soundtrack for this post. Crank up the volume, because the chorus we’re talking about is Verdi’s famed Va, pensiero!, a quiet storm. Many voices, and glasses, raised together and together make a difference.

100 Great Producers – Opera Wine 2017

The Wine Spectator’s Italian specialists, Bruce Sanderson and Alison Napjus presented, along with Thomas Matthews, the 100 Finest Italian Wines for 2017. These wines are tested blind by these eminent experts on Italian wine. What do you say, can we trust their picks? You bet! What I found interesting this year was that fourteen winners were first-timers, and it seemed to me that there was greater variety in the typologies of wine represented.

It’s time to taste….  Guess what my first sip was!

So I made a vow to myself: for this year’s Vinitaly, my quest is going to be to sample and report about some of the lesser-known Italian grape varieties and regions. Take note: Italy has over 440 different grape varieties, 330 DOC wines and 73 DOCG wines. So why are we always talking about Barolo, Brunello, Amarone, and Chianti?


Bet you didn’t guess that my first tasting at Vinitaly 2017 was going to be a Lambrusco! This is Tenuta Pederzana’s Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro and it is Semisecco (2008 vintage –  a 9-year old Lambrusco!) Delightfully dry, I would have loved a piece of mortadella or some other Emilia-Romagna fatty cold cut to pair with it. But we are on to some serious tasting here…


Have to admit my ignorance: somehow I missed Cantina Odoardi of Calabria — this is why it’s hats off to Wine Spectator for sniffing out the best from the top to the bottom of the boot. Odoardi’s Calabria GB is a blend of some grapes indigenous to that region: Magliocco, Gaglioppo, Nerello Cappuccio and Greco Nero. Here is yours truly with Gregorio and Barbara, the heart and soul of this winery.

Here are two of my absolute favorites for the day: Elena Fucci pouring the wine she makes, and Lorenzo Piccin, holding his prize bottle. Both these young producers are making wine in Basilicata: Aglianico del Vulture. If you haven’t had Aglianico del Vulture, then go out and get yourself a bottle. You can thank me later. Right now, we have to thank these two young producers for bringing their enthusiasm, dedication, and determination to making a quality product. Elena Fucci calls her wine Titolo, and she was decanting before pouring. Young Lorenzo studied in Alba, but headed back south to Basilicata to integrate what he learned with his family’s philosophy in wine-making. Kudos to thIMG_8508ese two!

What I find intriguing are the young winemakers in regions not particularly well-known, on-the-map wine-making regions (i.e. not Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto or Sicily). Here from Puglia, Masseria Li Veli’s Falvo family, originally from Tuscany, but since the late ’90s making wine in Apulia from indigenous varieties. This Negroamaro Cabernet Sauvignon blend weighs in at 15.5%. All that sun in the South!

IMG_8513Talk about young winemakers! This is how family traditions are born.  Zýmē is the name of the winery, Kairos is the name of the wine. Not immediate in the communication area, but if you read and contemplate, there is a design to it all. Love the creative label!

In fact, these people know Greek, history, art, architecture. Take a look at the winery – definitely worth a visit if you get to the Verona area.architettura_005Kairos is an IGP red blend, and at 15% packs a punch. When I say blend, I mean blend: it’s got a little bit of everything: Garganega, Trebbiano toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syraz, Teroldego, Croatina, Oseleta, Sangiovese, Marzemino. Whew! Did they leave any grapes out? Some of the grapes used for Amarone are there – can you name them? (see below)

My last serious taste was Vie di Romans 2011 Chardonnay from Friuli (nice geographic distribution to my day, huh?) This is a Chardonnay to write home about, and another new entry in the top 100 Italian wines. I spoke with Gianfranco Gallo who proudly displayed his bottle.

Lots of people enjoyed sampling Wine Spectator’s choices for the top 100 Italian Wines 2017, but the flow to pedestrian traffic was good. If Opera Wine is any indication, this is going to be one stellar Vinitaly!

Does this picture look blurry to you? or have you just drunk as much wine as I did today?

Grapes used for Amarone include Corvina, Rondinella, Oseleta, Corvinone

One thought on “Va, pensiero! A Chorus of Italian Wine

  1. Very impressive, instructive and FUN! Sounds like you had a BLAST!! And you look absolutely GORGEOUS!!! Love and hugs, Audrey (Off to Marc and Eileen’s tomorrow through Wednesday, for Passover seders…….. Manischewitz just won’t do anymore!)

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