Allegrini 2018

Among zoning and market, territories and more: the Italian wine for Kerin O’Keefe (Wine Enthusiast)

Reflections on “hot topics” in the sector, and the comment on the many Italian nominations for the prestigious “Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards”
Kerin O’Keefe, Italian editor of Wine Enthusiast

Among the “zoning” in development in many areas of wine, decisive for the future, “but today more geographical boundaries than anything else”, to an Asia that for Italy grows but does not run, from the name to keep an eye on the many Italian “nominations” of the “Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards”: there are many reflections discussed, with WineNews, by Kerin O’Keefe, among the most experienced foreign journalists of Italian wine, and Italian editor of the popular American magazine “Wine Enthusiast”. About the journey towards the Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive (Mga), in some territories already at an advanced stage, in others just begun, she explains: “I was among the first to write - in my articles and also in my book on Brunello di Montalcino - about the importance of zoning in the most important Italian denominations. Because in every denomination, there are zones and vineyards that are superior to the others. Therefore, for great quality wines, zoning is very important, even if at least for now they are only geographical boundaries. It will be consumers to decide whether they like the wines of one area or another of the same Docg or Doc. But the name and reputation of each producer are also very important: I still see producers with splendid vineyards today, but they don’t make great wines. So, it takes both: zoning and producers with the experience and ability to make great wines”.
Fundamental aspects to conquer the market of wine lovers, with an Italy of wine that is now a leader in many markets, but not in Asia, where, perhaps, the structure and the complex articulation of Italian wine, between vines and territories, is too complex to understand. “I’ve seen recently that Asian consumers are increasingly appreciating Italian wines. Especially red wines - underlines O’Keefe - which, however, are not always suitable for their typical foods, and I believe that it still takes some time to get the white wines off the ground. But for red wines, in China for example, I see a great desire of consumers to find out more about producers, areas, grape varieties and winemaking. At the moment, in my opinion, the interest is especially in the great reds: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico”. In other words, the great classics of Italian wine. But in Italy, there is much more, and it is always to be expected that some less famous territory will sooner or later conquer the stage. “I’m not expecting any great surprises”, explains Kerin O'Keefe, “but I can say that Barbaresco 2016, released this year, impressed me with its elegance, energy and longevity, so I have great expectations for Barolo 2016, which will be released in 2020. Upper Piedmont is still growing more and more in terms of quality and volume, and Lessona, Boca and Gattinara are among the most interesting wines at the moment. Like Etna, both with red and white wines. Among the other whites, Soave and Soave Classico are always growing in terms of quality, while for the bubbles, I am a real fan of Lessini Durello Metodo Classico, and Prosecco Superiore di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene, especially for Le Rive Brut and Dosaggio Zero”.
Yet, there are many excellences that the Belpaese can express, as evidenced by the many Italian nominations for the “Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards”, which will be unveiled and presented by the American magazine on January 27, 2020 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. And if there is a touch of Italy in the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to the producer director Francis Ford Coppola, whose family has Italian origins (the family was from Bernalda, a town in the province of Matera, Basilicata), and in the ”Importer of the Year” category, where it' s racing Prestige Wine Imports, a reality based in New York, but created by one of the leading wineries in Italy, the Mezzacorona Group, very Italian are the nominations of Tasca d’Almerita as “European Winery of the Year”, of Sicily as “Wine Region of the Year”, of Elisa Scavino, fourth generation at the head of the Barolo label Paolo Scavino, as “Winemaker of the Year”, and of Nonino, as “Spirit Brand/Distiller of the Year”.
“Tasca d’Almerita is not only one of the most historic producers in Sicily - explains O’Keefe - but the family has always focused on quality.
Today they have five estates on the island (and in Salina and Mozia) where they work mainly with native vines, but also with international grapes, always with an eye to the particular history of the estate, respecting the place, the vineyards and vines. In addition, the journey of sustainability that Alberto Tasca took a few years ago is fundamental: not only for the environment and for those who work for them, but also for the quality of the wines that today I find higher than ever. On Sicily, then - she continues - by now everyone knows that it is a magical, beautiful place, where you eat well and where you make good wines. But today Sicily is producing not only good wines, but also really excellent wines: from east to west, from north to south, there are serious producers who are making extraordinary wines, often unique in the world, since the island has an incredible heritage of native grapes. There are wines made with Grillo in the area of Marsala, Syrah in the area of Menfi, Nero d’Avola from the area of Noto, Frappato a Vittoria and Nerello Mascalese and Carricante from Etna, but also many other wines that are “world class”, with great elegance and complexity. Elisa Scavino, together with her father Enrico, is making some wonderful wines, especially the Baroli of the individual vineyards, such as their Bric dël Fiasc (I gave 100 points to the 2010 vintage) and Monvigliero. Elisa is always looking for elegance and she, like her father Enrico, likes to experiment but without ever losing the typicality. Elisa has always understood from her father, who also learned from his father Paolo, that working in the vineyard is fundamental”. Finally, the thought about Nonino, the historic distillery in Friuli led by Giannola Nonino with his daughters Cristina, Antonella and Elisabetta: “not only it is a historic house that created grappa from a single vine in the seventies, but it continues to do a lot of research and experimentation, and to produce new products, such as their Amaro perfumed with herbs that has captured the attention of the new generations”. So many stories related to Italian wine and talent, which keep the name of Italy high in the world.

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