Until just a few years back, come early December I’d begin counting down the days until Christmas as I imagined all the great gifts that awaited me. The anticipation has faded in correlation with a drop off in gifts, both in quantity and quality (the abyss was touched last year with the wife giving me a pair of slippers, I’m not sure what that says about the wife or me, but it feels worrying on so many levels).
So I won’t be counting down to Christmas this year (also because feigning delight at my gifts is getting progressively harder), but not too far away there is an event to look forward to – the mother of all Italian wine tastings. Mark your calendar, 24 March 2012, and if you are the compulsive type and want to know exactly far away that is, somebody has you covered (last I looked we’ve got only 114 days, 11 hours, 50 minutes and 17 seconds to wait).
The event is being organized by Wine Spectator and Vinitaly, the annual trade fair in Verona dedicated to Italian wine. The tasting will be held the day before the four-day fair, which has become an event of epic proportions where people in the industry coalesce to buy and sell bottles of every imaginable grape-derived liquid produced on the peninsula. Last year more than 150,000 buyers, distributors, and restaurant and bar owners descended on the stands of 4,000 producers. The general public also gets a chance to walk the halls though this is mostly for industry folks.
At the tasting – called Finest Italian Wines, 100 Great Producers – the crème della crème of Italian producers will offer up a wine of their choosing. The list of participants is nothing short of spectacular: Castello Banfi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Gaja, Livio Felluga, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, Siro Pacenti, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Tenuta San Guido, Umani Ronchi, and so on. Wine Spectator, specifically their senior editor and tasting director Bruce Sanderson along with two of his colleagues, put together the list with the idea of giving a large geographic cross section of Italy’s best producers.
“There is so much diversity in Italy, so many grape varietals, that we wanted to find a way to showcase that,” Sanderson said on Monday at the event presentation in Milan. “It’s a great chance for small producers to show what they are capable of.”
Only 500 non-industry people will get to take part in the tasting with tickets set to be sold online. No word yet on price or when exactly they will available, but keep an eye on the Vinitaly website for details.
Italian wine sales are doing very well despite the tough economic times, or perhaps because of it. Exports to the United States rose 16% by volume in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period in 2010, according to Italian statistics institute ISTAT. In that period the value of wine sold jumped 18 percent to 604 million euros. Total exports were 2.7 billion euros, a 14 percent increase in value.
Back to my slippers from last Christmas, has anybody gotten a worse gift than that from their significant other? Do let me know so we can compare gifts on December 26th and commiserate.