Vinitaly Presents World Premier Tasting of Two New Wines Made from Endangered Italian Grape Varietals
Visitors to the 48th edition of Vinitaly, the world’s largest wine event held each April in Verona, will experience a rare moment of wine history; attendees of the Executive Wine Seminar on indigenous grapes, on Monday, April 7th at 3:30pm, will witness the ‘rebirth’ of two nearly extinct native varietals as the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) proudly presents the world premiere tasting of two brand new wines. As VIA scientific director Ian D’Agata explains, “These are the first single-variety expressions of two indigenous grape varietals that have been almost completely forgotten - the Roussin de Morgex from the Valle d’Aosta, and San Lunardo from the island of Ischia in Campania - which will see the light for the first time in centuries, at Vinitaly in Verona, thanks to the VIA.”
“Ian has dedicated more than 20 years to the study of the native grapes of Italy, and has travelled with us to share that research with the VIA Executive Wine Seminars in New York and Chengdu,” explains Vinitaly International Managing Director Stevie Kim. “When it comes to Italian grape varietals, Ian D’Agata is an expert on an international level – at Vinitaly he will present his new book, The Native Wine Grapes of Italy, which represents the most extensive study of the subject.”
The Roussin de Morgex is a long-forgotten traditional grape from the Valle d’Aosta that was revived by the cooperative winery Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et La Salle, and the Institut Régional Agricole (IAR), an organization that safeguards native grapes of the valley. Under Dr. D’Agata’s encouragement, enological director of the Cave Nicola Del Negro attempted a first vinification in red wine with the 2012 harvest. “Unfortunately 2012 turned out to be a difficult year from a climatic point of view, and the rain came with the Roussin de Morgex still on the vines. Rain at the time of harvest is a real disaster for this varietal, since its skin is so thin and delicate,” says Del Negro.
“I still remember when Nicola brought me the samples of the new wine at the Merano Wine Festival in November of 2013,” D’Agata laughs. “It certainly was a disappointment, but at the same time we were both really excited about the prospect of reviving an ancient varietal and a new wine, a piece of history of this valley and of all of Italy.” They decided then to make a sparkling wine instead, given the winery’s expertise in spumante. During this Executive Wine Seminar, Ian D’Agata together with Del Negro, current president of the Cave Mauro Jacod, as well as several members of the IAR will lead a presentation of the project and tasting of two samples obtained with maceration, which to date have given the most interesting results.
The second wine – testament to the power of Italian food and wine to attract even the most unlikely of players – is the pet project of Giancarlo Carriero, owner of the Albergo Regina Isabella, on the island of Ischia off the coast of Campania. Even with the many daily concerns of a luxury five-star hotel, Carriero dreamt of producing unique wine that would be available only in the restaurants of his hotel. Although the project remained a dream, Carriero was fascinated by wine, and each year hosted Ischia Vintage, an international wine fair now in its twelfth edition. This brought Carriero in contact with Ian D’Agata.
“I had been coming to Ischia Vintage for years, and so I had had the chance to visit the many great wineries on the island,” D’Agata remembers. “Ischia is lucky because it has two wonderful varieties of white grapes that produce excellent wine, Biancolella and Forastera; but there are many others including San Lunardo, Coglionara and Arilla. But talking with various producers on the island no one wanted to make a single-variety wine with any of these grapes, either because they get sick easily or because they aren’t very productive. So I suggested that Carriero produce these wines himself, even in small quantities, for use only in his hotel’s restaurants.”
Carriero was fascinated by the idea of producing not only something new, but also something useful for the island he loved. “It’s obvious that we don’t intend to become wine producers,” explains Carriero. “But this was a real chance to protect the biodiversity of the island. And if the wines turned out well, it could also create new jobs for young people on the island, which might help reduce the depopulation of our countryside.”
This is how the project of Le Vigne dell’Indaco – Indigo Vines – was born. Enologist Franco Mattera, together with Dr. D’Agata, chose to make a single-variety wine out of San Lunardo because it is abundant on the island, and has unique characteristics which distinguish it from the other native varietals. The result is a wine with complex structure and a long finish, which will join the Roussin de Morgex for a world premiere tasting with the Vinitaly International Academy in Verona.
Veronafiere is the leading organizer of trade shows in Italy including Vinitaly (http://www.vinitaly.com), the largest wine event in the world. The 47th edition of Vinitaly counted some 148,000 visitors (+6%), of which 53.000 were international attendees (+10%) visiting from 120 countries. On 95.000 square meters, 4.200 exhibitors welcomed trade professionals, media and producers alike. The next installment of the fair will take place on 6th- 9th April 2014. The premier event to Vinitaly, OperaWine (http://www.vinitalyinternational.com) “Finest Italian Wines: 100 Great Producers”, will unite international wine professionals on April 5th 2014 in the heart of Verona. Veronafiere also created Vinitaly International in 1998 to develop a global platform for the promotion of companies in the Italian wine and food sectors.
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