The "Doctor Wine" European Capitals Tour 2013

An update from London on the wonderful world of Italian wine.

While beer sales, partly driven by financial considerations among younger consumers, have been rising markedly within Italy, wine consumption in the country is declining, hitting an all-time low, according to latest reports. In excess of 50% of Italian wine production is now exported, notably to the U.S. and Germany, with interest from China also growing strongly, an increase of nearly 30% over the last 13 years. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see many Italian wine producers marketing their wines abroad, especially in the key London market. The taste for Italian wine in the UK capital has been growing for several years, with Prosecco, in particular, finding itself a fashionable drink of choice for many Brits. Indeed, as a report in the drinks business recently highlighted, sales are increasing 50% every year, outperforming both Cava and Champagne. However, quality levels vary immensely and consumers are not always being given a truly representative choice of what is available.

Italian wine styles are hugely diverse, from light sparkling whites to heavy, tannic and spicy reds. In an effort to showcase quality, terroir-driven wines from his country to a larger European audience, Italian wine expert, Daniele Cernilli, organised the Doctor Wine European Capitals Tour 2013 in three cities – Berlin, Amsterdam and London. The following is a review of the last of these trade fairs, which took place on October 29th at The Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington, London. The wines listed here do not represent an exclusive list of Italian regions or styles, but I think they do give a flavour of some of the more intriguing expressions of the country’s international and indigenous grape varieties.

Veneto
Italian Sparkling Wine

Villa Sandi brought along some of their sparkling wines, available in the UK from Annessa Import Limited. Not just for drinking on their own, these are all good palate-cleansers, as well as having enough acidity to cut through fatty dishes.

Trentino Alto Adige
Italian Wine

Elena Walch is a family-owned winery with plantings of international and local red and white grape varieties in the heart of the Alto Adige winegrowing region. Their wines are available in the UK from Bancroft Wines.

Innovative co-operative group, Cavit, provides 60% of this region's wine production. The company brought four wines to the show from their Bottega Vinai range, which are available in the UK from Boutinot Limited, but two of these stood out for me.

Friuli Venezia Giulia

Castello di Spessa’s DOC Collio wines come from 25 hectares of vineyards near the Slovenian border. With a long tradition of winemaking, dating back to the 1550s, they produce a range of red and white wines from several grape varieties.

Basilicata

Elena Fucci is a young family-owned company, currently producing one wine only from the renowned Aglianico grape variety. The vineyard is located by an extinct volcano, Monte Vulture, in the south of the country, which benefits from a unique terroir with lava-based soils, plenty of sunshine during the day and cool temperatures at night.

Sicilia

Cottanera is another company influenced heavily by terroir. With 65 hectares of vineyards growing around Mount Etna, the wines have their own distinctive style, flavour and freshness.

Piemonte

The world-famous Gaja Winery has 250 acres of vineyards in the Piemonte region, known for some of Italy’s most renowned wine styles. The company had three wines represented at the show, which are available in the UK from Vinum or Armit Wines.

Italian Wine

Award-winning Marchesi di Barolo presented one white wine and four reds at the show.

Toscana

Mastrojanni are an award-winning producer of Brunello di Montalcino, whose wines are available in the UK from FortyFive 10° Ltd..

Casanova Di Neri brought along three examples of Brunello di Montalcino, available in the UK from Eurowines. All were good, but my favourite was the last of the ones I tried.

Chianti Classico

Castello Di Volpaia produce Sangiovese-based wines with good ageing potential. Grapes are harvested by hand and are used to produce a mixture of traditional and more modern styles of Chianti Classico.

Sassicaia

Perhaps the most famous Italian wine is Sassicaia, the legendary "Supertuscan" from Tenuta San Guido. Fortunately, for the attendees at the tasting, Armit Wines brought along not only this classic, but one of the other delicious reds from the same winery.

This article was first published on The Alcohol Professor website.