More than 155,000 wine-industry professionals poured into Verona last weekend April 6–9 for Italy’s massive trade fair, Vinitaly—a six-percent increase in overall attendance compared with last year’s event.
Some 56,000 foreign buyers tasted the latest vintages of 4,100 exhibitors from across Italy. Other producers presented their notable older vintages, and there were also some vertical tastings.
Historical Amarone Classico producer Santa Sofia featured a vertical starting with 1977, and natural-wine producer Emidio Pepe showcased select vintages of his cult favorite, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, beginning with a 1967 bottle. Both verticals revealed the remarkable aging potential and stunning evolution of Italy’s classic wines.
Marco Caprai of the Arnaldo Caprai estate also poured some older wines, including a 1996 and 1999 Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni—both still surprisingly youthful. Meanwhile Trentino-based Lunelli family stunned attendees with their 1993, 1996 and 2002 sparkling Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore, proving that the country’s top Metodo Classicos can hold their own.
But that wasn’t the only Italian bubbly getting attention at the event—sparkling wines were trending big at Vinitaly, with standing room only at many Prosecco and Franciacorta booths. Meanwhile another popular area of the fair for the third year in a row was the Vivit stand—which means “Wines, Winegrowers and Terroirs” in Italian—where artisanal producers showcased their organic and biodynamic wines. And this year’s floor plan also included a new space, Vintalybio, dedicated to featuring organized tastings of certified-organic wines.
“We had a great turnout, and based on the number of visitors we received, the interest in natural wines continues to grow,” says Brunello producer Florio Guerrini, of Il Paradiso di Manfredi.
When it comes to food at the fair, grabbing a bite is not an easy feat—unless you were lucky enough to be invited to lunch with producer Marco Caprai. He brought his mobile restaurant, where Italy’s star chef and TV personality Gianfranco Vissani wowed the winemaker’s guests with updated renditions of classic cuisine from Umbria—one of Wine Enthusiast’s 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2014.
This year’s Vinitaly also had its fair share of politicians make an appearance, including the new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
“Wine is a relevant part of culture, lifestyle and above all our economy,” he announced at the event. He also launched an industry-wide challenge to increase international wine exports another 50 percent by 2020.
Wine Enthusiast also celebrated its Italian Editor Kerin O’Keefe’s one-year anniversary in her role at an aperitivo and cocktail party at Verona’s historic Due Torri hotel on April 6. Sixty members of the Italian and international vintner and media community gathered to toast O’Keefe, who is responsible for all Italian tasting and editorial for the magazine, and who attended Vinitaly for the full week. Earlier that day, O’Keefe participated in a Vinitaly press conference discussing why she chose Umbria as a Top 10 wine destination for the magazine’s February 2014 issue; she also received a Best Communicator of the Year award from Veneto producer Carpenè Malvolti for her overall coverage of Italian wine.