Mingling with the stars: Vinitaly highlights day 3

arianna occhipinti

Writing in a hurry, as always, this morning as I prepare to head to Verona for the last day of Vinitaly, the annual Italian wine trade fair.

My yesterday was star-studded: I caught up with über cool Sicilian winemaker Arianna Occhipinti (right) while tasting with one of my favorite Abruzzo producers, Francesco Cirelli (far left).

emidio pepe anniversary

What a treat to have been invited by the Pepe family to attend their 50th anniversary vertical tasting of Emidio Pepe’s wines (post forthcoming; very interesting stuff)!

All the top Italian wine writers were there and the tasting was phenomenal (1967-2007). Thank you again, Sofia and Chiara, for including me.

cascina gilli

Chiara Gilli told me that her delicious sparkling Malvasia di Schierano is on its way to Texas. This is going to be a huge hit in the U.S. Loved the wine and was geeked to finally meet Chiara, whom I’ve followed through social media for some time now. She’s super groovy.

aldo vajra

The boys were back in town hanging with one of my favorite Piedmontese winemakers, Aldo Vajra (far left). Those are my buddies Nathan Smith from Houston (center) and Justin Gallen from Los Angeles (right).

The 2010 Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole was smokin’ good.

passerina best abruzzo

Very stoked about this Passerina — probably the best I’ve ever tasted — from a new entry in Abruzzo, the Abbazia di Propezzano.

Look for this by-the-glass at Sotto in the fall of 2014. Another big winner for me.

vigne alice prosecco

One of the most fun things about the fair is running into fellow U.S. wine professionals. Shelly Lindgren recommended that I taste Cinzia Canzian’s Le Vigne di Alice Prosecco. Beautiful, focused wine, fresh and bright, with lovely mineral notes.

My friend Lars Leicht of Banfi likes to say, you haven’t experienced Vinitaly until you’ve been “vinitalizzato” (Vinitalized).

As any veteran fair-goer will tell you, the experience is always stressful and exhausting, in part because of the sheer number of wines and people, in part because of the haywire logistics.

One more day to go… See you on the other side.

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