Vini Veri participating producer list (public service announcement)

March 30, 2010

Above: The dearly departed Baldo Cappellano (right), one of the founders of the Vini Veri movement, with his son Augusto, who now manages their family’s historic winery.

In the wake of my post on the Vini Veri tasting details for April 2010, a lot of folks have written me asking where they can find a list of participating producers.

My good friend Marisa Huff, one of the organizers of this year’s event, has graciously shared the recently published link.

I wish I could be there: it is my favorite tasting of the season. But I’ve just been on the road too much already this year and there are more travels ahead.

Buona lettura e buona degustazione!


The red, white, and sparkling carpet at Vini Veri 2009

April 6, 2009

Posting hastily this morning as I head out for another day at the fair and then tasting later today at Dal Forno in Valpolicella… Here are some quick highlights from the “red, white, and sparkling carpet” at the 2009 gathering of Vini Veri, the “real wine” movement, “wines made how nature intended them,” as the group’s motto goes.

If ever there were a winemaker who looked like a movie star, it’s got to be Giampiero Bea of Paolo Bea. I finally got to taste his 2006 Arboreus, an Etruscan-trained 100% Trebbiano vinified with extended skin contact. In a later post, I’ll write more about the wine and what Giampiero had to tell me about the 2005 vs. 2006 vintages of his Santa Chiara. The 2004 Sagrantino was the best I’ve ever tasted.

Last year, I tasted Maria Teresa Mascarello’s 2005 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo out of barrel (literally, when the cellar master brought it up for her to taste for the first time). I was excited to taste it again a year later in bottle. She’s carrying on her father’s tradition of artist labels with polemical messages. Her “Langa Valley” label (left) is pretty hilarious.

I really dig Adelchi Follador’s natural Prosecco, which he ages on its lees and bottles in magnum. His winery, Coste Piane, also makes a still Prosecco. The wine is great, probably the best Prosecco you can find in America (imported by Dressner).

Franco turned me on to the Barbaresco Montestefano by Teobaldo Rivella. I tasted the 2004 and 2005 and was entirely blown away by how good this wine showed. It reminded me of Giacosa in style and caliber and its power and elegance made me think of an Arabian filly in a bottle.

Marco Arturi is a truly gifted writer who marries wine and literature. He posts often at Porthos. He is a steadfast defender and promoter of natural wine. We had never met before but we write to each and check in from time to time on Facebook: when we met in person it felt like we knew each other well. The whole Facebook thing is pretty cool.

Getting to taste with Franco Ziliani is one of the highlights of any trip to Italy for me. I admire him greatly for his writing, his integrity as a wine writer, and his palate, and I am proud to consider him my friend and colleague. When Franco point me in the direction of a wine, I know I’m not going to be disappointed.

Vini Veri without its co-founder Teobaldo Cappellano reminded me of the Lou Reed song “What’s Good”:

Life’s like a mayonnaise soda
And life’s like space without room
And life’s like bacon and ice cream
That’s what life’s like without you

Baldo was a wonderful man and even though the fair was great this year (and expanded to include the Triple A and Renaissance du Terroir tastings), it just didn’t feel the same without him.

The image of Baldo with his son Augusto (above) hovered over the room where he would have presented his wines.

I’ll write more on my experience at Vini Veri when I get home. Off to Valpolicella and then Alto Adige… Stay tuned…

*****

Life’s like a mayonnaise soda
And life’s like space without room
And life’s like bacon and ice cream
That’s what life’s like without you

Life’s like forever becoming
But life’s forever dealing in hurt
Now life’s like death without living
That’s what life’s like without you

Life’s like Sanskrit read to a pony
I see you in my mind’s eye strangling on your tongue
What good is knowing such devotion
I’ve been around, I know what makes things run

What good is seeing eye chocolate
What good’s a computerized nose
And what good was cancer in April
Why no good, no good at all

What good’s a war without killing
What good is rain that falls up
What good’s a disease that won’t hurt you
Why no good, I guess, no good at all

What good are these thoughts that I’m thinking
It must be better not to be thinking at all
A styrofoam lover with emotions of concrete
No not much, not much at all

What’s good is life without living
What good’s this lion that barks
You loved a life others throw away nightly
It’s not fair, not fair at all

What’s good?
Not much at all

What’s good?
Life’s good
But not fair at all

— Lou Reed


On the eve of Vinitaly, a push to create a Montalcino DOC (and reflections on a year past)

March 31, 2009

Above: Franco Ziliani (left), my friend and co-editor of VinoWire, and Mauro Mascarello, winemaker and producer of one of the greatest expressions of Nebbiolo, Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo. We tasted at Vinitaly last year together. This year, Franco and I will be tasting together at Vini Veri.

Passover and Easter will shortly be upon us and the who’s who of Italian wine is preparing to descend on the province of Verona for our industry’s annual trade fairs: Vinitaly (the largest and most commercial), Vini Veri (a gathering of natural winemakers and the most interesting in my opinion), and VinNatur (an assembly of winemakers who broke away from Vini Veri some years back). I’m particularly excited for Vini Veri because this year’s tasting sees the unification of Vini Veri with the Nicolas Joly biodynamic and quasi-biodynamic tastings, Triple A and Renaissance du Terroir (Return to Terroir).

Above: The Banfi Castle at last year’s Vinitaly. There were rumors — unfounded and untrue — that Banfi’s wines were seized on the floor of the fair last year. I am looking forward to tasting the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino by Banfi. Charles Scicolone and Tom Hyland — whose palates I respect greatly — have both told me that it’s classic Brunello, 100% Sangiovese, and one of the best wines Banfi has ever produced.

It’s remarkable to think that at this time last year, the world of Italian wine was gripped by the breaking news of the Brunello scandal: at least five major producers were accused of adulterating their wines from the 2003 vintage. A year has passed, a large quantity of wine has reportedly been declassified, and no indictments have been issued by the Siena prosecutor who supposedly launched the investigation in September of 2007.

It’s not surprising, however, that there has been a new push — albeit weak — within the association of Brunello producers to create a Montalcino DOC. Last week, a proposal to create such an appellation was put to the floor at the consortium’s assembly. (I haven’t been able to find out the results of the vote but according to most observers, it was unlikely that it would be ratified.)

Above: I am always geeked to taste Paolo Bea Sagrantino with Giampiero Bea at Vini Veri (I snapped this photo at last year’s fair). Tracie B and I have been enjoying his Santa Chiara 2006. It’s radically different than his 2005 and I hope to ask him about the vintage variation. (Is it the result of climatic differences or differences in the cellar? I imagine — knowing Giampiero and his radical belief in natural winemaking — that the former is the case.)

Currently, Montalcino producers must label their wines as Toscana IGT or Sant’Antimo DOC if they contain grapes other than Sangiovese. If approved, a Montalcino DOC would allow them to exploit the Montalcino “brand” in their labeling of so-called Super Tuscan wines. The proposed DOC is part of a greater push to create new Italian appellations before OCM reforms take effect in August 2009 and the power to issue new DOCs shifts from Rome to Brussels.

Above: This year, the world of Italian wine mourns the loss of Teobaldo Cappellano (photo courtesy of Polaner). Baldo, as he was known fondly, was one of the founders of the Vini Veri movement and one of Italy’s most zealous defenders and promoters of terroir-driven wines and natural winemaking. He was a truly delightful man and is sorely missed.

There’s a reason why the fairs are held at this time of year: historically and traditionally, the spring marks the moment when winemakers unveil their cellared wines. Long before the hegemony of the Judeo-Christian canon, spring was observed as Mother Nature’s moment of renewal and rebirth.

The ancient allegory — and it is an allegory, not a metaphor — could not be more apt this year.


Memorial to Baldo Cappellano

February 25, 2009

Franco and I have posted this memorial to beloved winemaker, activist, and Barolo producer Baldo Cappellano (1944-2009) at VinoWire.


Memories of Baldo Cappellano

February 21, 2009

Above: Teobaldo Cappellano in his cellar (photo courtesy of Polaner).

I met Teobaldo Cappellano on a number of occasions and enjoyed his wines immensely. He was a staunch, vocal defender of traditional winemaking and his Barolo was aged in large, old-oak casks. He fought tirelessly against the homogenization and over-commercialization of wine and was a steadfast opponent of the use of international grape varieties in Italian wine. His uncle, a pharmacist, was the creator Barolo Chinato, and Cappellano’s chinato was widely considered the best. It was a treat to get to taste with him over the last few years at Vini Veri and I felt honored to report on his contribution to the Brunello Debate in October 2008. If you speak Italian (and even if you don’t), I encourage you to watch the archived stream of the debate at Franco’s blog (just visit the blog and you’ll find it embedded to the right). His cadenced authority is matched only by his emboldened passion.

In his post today at Vocativo, Luigi Metropoli reminded us of Baldo’s motto: io evolvo all’indietro, “I evolve backwards.”

The world of wine has lost one of its great rabbis — if not the greatest.

Today, the blogosphere is flooded with tributes and memories of Baldo, as he was known. I’ve collected and translated some passages below.

The world of wine — and not just Piedmontese wine and not just the Barolo and Langa community (which he represented with authority) — is in mourning today for the sudden and cruel passing of Teobaldo Cappellano. He was a tireless activist and an advocate of lost causes — causes even more worthy for the very fact they were lost — because when you know that you have no chance to prevail, defending your beliefs is even more righteous.
—Franco Ziliani, Vino al Vino

Langa and the entire world of Italian wine are orphans today. Everything will be more complicated now that destiny has shown us high noon.
—Marco Arturi, Porthos

One of those gentle giants, long and weedy, he is winemaker, jokester, philosopher.
—Alice Feiring

The last of the Mohicans.
—Gigi Padovani

Barolo has died.
—Consumazione obbligatoria

Someone like Baldo Cappellano cannot die.
—Divino Scrivere

He was a winemaker philosopher.
—acquablog


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