This is the last of three posts on my experience at VinoSummit 2019, the one-day seminar for wine professionals, hosted by Florida Wine Academy on March 18th. If you’d like to read my first post featuring a tasting of Champagne from Charles Heidsieck, click here. For the post on the biodynamic wines of Gerard Bertrand, click here.
Only at a wine conference will you be offered a taste of liquid gold from Italy’s Lugana region, or a sip of Cannonau from the wind-swept coastline of Sardegna, during the coffee break! Don’t worry – plenty of us enjoyed the delicious coffee prepared by the Biltmore staff after we had tasted (and spit) each wine. We are professionals, after all!
2017 Cà Maiol Lugana: 100% Trebbiano di Lugana; aromas/flavors of apple and pear with bright acidity on the palate. A light wine of character, I’d pair this with mild cheese or simply prepared fresh trout.
2016 Cà Maiol Giomè: an intriguing blend of Gropello, Marzemino, Barbera, and Sangiovese, each of which is vinified separately in stainless steel tanks. The final blend is a fresh, berry-scented wine that is perfect for charcuterie, grilled salmon, or roast chicken.
Cantina Mesa Primo Bianco Vermentino di Sardegna: Crisp and light, just the way you want Vermentino to be! Lots of citrus and white flowers on the nose; more of the same on the palate, with a clean, zesty finish. Perfect wine for south Florida’s humid summers!
Cantina Mesa Giunco Vermentino di Sardegna: A little riper than the previous wine, this has a hint of tropical fruit on the nose and palate. Peach and lime, a little herbal note on the finish.
Cantina Mesa Primo Scuro Cannonau di Sardegna: Cannonau (aka Grenache) full of those cherry aromas and flavors that Grenache lovers adore. Tannins are mild, but there’s nothing shy about this wine – full-bodied, ripe fruit, and great mouthfeel. Calls out for a simple, grilled steak and a watermelon-feta salad.
Lunch Wines (Sponsored by Folio Wine Partners)
2016 Bibi Graetz Casamatta Bianco, IGT Toscana: A blend of Vermentino, Trebbiano, and Moscato, the grapes come from 15 year-old vines in the Maremma region. Fermentation and aging occurred in stainless steel, giving rise to a fresh wine with bright citrus flavors and notes of Granny Smith apples. The perfect wine to welcome spring!
2016 Bibi Graetz Grilli, IGT Toscana: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah from vineyards averaging 20 years old. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, and was aged first in stainless steel tanks, then in bottle. A mix of red and black fruit on the nose, this wine serves to cleanse the palate: there’s a ton of acidity and tannin that are up to the task. It’s light on its feet and would be great with grilled pork or beef.
2015 Bibi Graetz Testamatta Rosso, IGT Toscana: 100% Sangiovese, from 50-80-year-old vines, fermented in open barriques, with manual punchdowns several times per day. The wine was aged for 24 months in French barrels, followed by an additional six months in bottle. All the things I love about Sangiovese: red fruit, dirt, and leather, held in balance by silky tannins and bright acidity.
2015 Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG: 80% Sangiovese, with Merlot (15%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), this wine was fermented in stainless steel, then aged for nine months in second- and third-use barrels. A “classic” Chianti Classico, with juicy red fruit, fresh herbs, and meaty/savory aromas. The palate is a delicate balance of fruit, earth, and savory, making me wish I had some of this at home – it would pair well with just about anything!
2015 Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG: Mostly Sangiovese (90%) with a little Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) and Petit Verdot (5%) thrown in for good measure. As with the previous wine, it was fermented in stainless steel, but was aged for 18 months in a mix of first- and second-use barrels. I like the 90% Sangiovese in this wine “recipe.” There’s beautiful cherry fruit and mouth-watering acidity, with an interplay of fresh-tilled earth and grilled meat. A beautiful wine!
Panel Discussion: Trends in the Wine Industry
Our panel of experts shaped up as follows:
- Kristina Sazama (DipWSET; FWS; Wine Educator for Santa Margherita, USA)
- Raffalle Benassi (Director, European Business Dev., Breakthru Beverage FL)
- Lisa Airey (CWE; FWS; Education Director, Wine Scholar Guild)
- Dave Rudman (DipWSET; Executive Director, WSET America)
- Celeste Bailey – Moderator (WSET L3; FWS; Educator, Florida Wine Academy)
The discussion centered around a few themes:
- Marked increase in the number of people seeking official wine certification;
- Climate change and its likely effects on specific wine regions;
- The use of technology to engage wine consumers.
Both Dave Rudman and Lisa Airey attested to the growing numbers of folks seeking wine certification, especially at the introductory levels. Each also commented on the fact that, when the economy takes a nosedive, there is a spike in the number of wine professionals who enroll in classes. Certification, or improving one’s level of certification, is regarded as a way to distinguish oneself from others in the workforce; there is a belief that credentials from an esteemed organization might make someone more attractive as a job candidate.
The panel then turned to the issue of climate change, touching on the growing concern that some areas historically associated with wine production may, one day, become too warm to make the same types of wine they make today. Eiswein from Germany may become a thing of the past: if temperatures continue to rise, it’s less likely that grapes will experience the freezing conditions necessary.
Cognac is another spot that will suffer adverse effects in warmer conditions. Base wines for Cognac (usually made from Ugni Blanc) rely on grapes with low sugars levels and high acidity – exactly the opposite of what happens as the mercury ticks upward.
On the other hand, rising temperatures in traditionally cooler regions mean that a wider variety of grapes is available for winemaking. Think about the number of red wines coming from southern Germany or British Columbia.
Rounding out the discussion was a presentation on how some wine companies (with big budgets!) are luring consumers to their products with technology. Interactive apps you can download to your phone offer entertaining ways to learn about the wines, accumulate points, and – if the marketing geniuses are correct – become a loyal purchaser of the company’s products. Treasury Wine Estates is seen as a pioneer in this arena. Not sure what the staying power of these (in my opinion) rather gimmicky tactics will be but, then again, I’m not a millennial who’s new to the wine scene!
Panel Wine Tasting
NV Cà del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Franciacorta, Italy: 75% Chardonnay; with the balance made up of Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero, this sparkler had lovely aromas of apple and pear, and a hint of petrichor. On the palate there was also citrus and bitter almond. Very bubbly! Organic certification – which allows the limited use of Copper Sulfate – is in the near-future for this appellation. The winery mitigates any potentially negative results by washing the grapes to remove any residue.
2012 Château du Moulin-à-Vent Beaujolais: From one of the top crus in Beaujolais, this Gamay-based wine undergoes a natural yeast fermentation as opposed to the carbonic maceration method by which most Beaujolais Nouveau is made. A nice introduction to the better wines of this region, especially for those whose only experience with Beaujolais has been on the third Thursday of November.
2015 Tornatore Etna Rosso, Pietrarizzo; Sicily: A blend of Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Capuccio, and Catarratto, this wine comes from the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Fermentation took place in cement tanks, and the wine was racked to large barrels to soak up a little bit of oak influence and be exposed to a bit of oxygen. The nose is all ripe cherry, with supporting notes of vanilla, rosemary, and wet rocks. It’s less ripe on the palate, but chock-full of the same influences as the nose. The 2015 vintage was the first to carry a biodynamic/organic certification.
2015 Weingut Robert Weil Riesling Spätlese; Rheingau, Germany: Ripe aromas of white peach, yellow pear, and lime zest, with a whiff of petrol that blows off shortly. On the palate there is white tea, orange and lemon zest, and pear compote. Medium bodied, with less acidity to balance the super-ripe fruit. The panelists pointed to this wine as an example of how cool-climate areas are warming; maybe so, but I found it to be a hedonistic delight!
That’s All, Folks!
Thanks for tagging along through my VinoSummit 2019 adventures. Maybe I’ll see you next year, at #VinoSummit 2020?