During the week-end 18-19 October 2008 has taken place the annual "Giro d'Italia" organised by the Belgian wine importer "Licata" in its premises, closed to Hasselt.
It is the major event for Italian wine in Belgium, due to the excellent organisation of Calogero Licata and his son Laurent, who bring to Belgium some of the best Italian wine producers for a presentation of their wines during a three-day event. The stands in the main room are organised by region so that it is very easy to move across the stands and follow a precise program.
I went there with Anne, a French friend who was also able to taste much better than I who was still suffering from a big cold. The following is a list of the impressions of the day on the basis of the producers that we visited:
- Bisol (Veneto). Prosecco di Valdobbiadene "Crede" is pleasant and fresh, while the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene "Vigneto del Fol" is more complex on the palate with some dry fruits flavour. The Riserva Brut Millesimato 2001 (pinot bianco, chardonnay and pinot noir) is very well done and of good complexity.
- Ronco Calino (Lombardia). The Franciacorta Brut Millesimato 2003 has a good structure and complexity and is a good representative of Franciacorta quality.
- Alois Lageder (Alto Adige). Moscato Giallo 2007 shows some spicey and lavanda scents and a very dry pleasant finish. Sauvignon 2007 has good flavours of dried fruits but lacking complexity on the palate. Pinot Grigio 2007 is rather disappointing with short finish and lacking structure. Pinot grigio "Benefizium Porer" 2007, instead, has an intriguing nose with strong white fruits (pear) and powerful taste with long finish. Finally, Chardonnay "Coreth" 2007 reveals good complexity and freshness.
- Pieropan (Veneto). Unfortunately this time Pieropan did not bring an old vintage of his Soave "La Rocca", a wine that improves strongly with ageing. We tasted Soave Calvarino 2006, showing intriguing strong flavours but losing power on the palate with a rather short finish, and Soave La Rocca 2006, a great wine showing great complexity both in terms of flavours and taste. This latter will only improve with 3-4 years ageing.
- Livio Felluga (Friuli venezia Giulia). An historical producer of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Livio Felluga arrived with a large range of wines. We only tried Friulano (new denomination for the Tocai) 2007, with good flavours but lacking power on the palate, and the Illivio 2006 (blend of pinot bianco, chardonnay and picolit), a powerful fruity wine spending 10 months in oak.
- Feudi san Gregorio (Campania). It was the last serie of white wines tasted, starting with Fiano di Avellino 2007, showing pleasant white fruits with very long finish, and Greco di Tufo "Cutizzi" 2007, a complex wine showing good acidity and long finish.
- San Leonardo (Trentino). A producer always keeping a great coherence during the years. We started with the Villa Gresti 2004, showing some vegetal character (green pepper) and good balance. The San Leonardo 2003 is in the classic style of the house a very well balanced wine with a very expressive nose, very good structure and finish.
- Avignonesi (Tuscany). Rosso di Montepulciano 2007 represents one of the best quality/price ratio, with good red fruits aroma and lenght. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2005 was not particularly expressive, while Grandi Annate 2004 shows an expressive cassis nose combined with a good balanced taste. Desiderio 2005 (Merlot 80% and cabernet sauvignon 20%) is one of the best merlot-based wine of Tuscany, very powerful and deep.
- Fanti (Tuscany). Sant'Antimo 2006 is an easy-to-drink pleasant wine with good aromas of red fruits. Rosso di Montalcino 2006 has additional complexity and represents a very good quality/price ratio.
- Mazzei/Castello di Fonterutoli (Tuscany). One of the historical houses of Chianti Classico, they presented here a good Chianti Classico 2006 and a very good Castello di Fonterutoli 2005 (90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet sauvignon). Siepi 2005 (50% Sangiovese and 50% merlot) is a reference for Supertuscans with power and complexity..
- Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona (Tuscany). Brunello di Montalcino 2003, not a great year for Brunello, has a good long finish and expressive aromas but it is still rather tannic.
- Piaggia (Tuscany). Carmignano Riserva 2005 is pleasant and with long finish even if rather mono-dimensional.
- Michele Satta (Tuscany). I spent some time here because I remembered last year a long conversation with Michele Satta (who did not come here this year) on the true natures of his wines and tha passion that he is able to transmit. The two white wines, Costa di Giulia 2007 (65% Vermentino, 35% Sauvignon) is very good and Gioven Re 2007 (Viognier 100%) is even better, a very good example of an experiment with a rather difficult grape. Also very pleasant is the simple Bolgheri Rosso 2006, while in the Cavaliere 2003 we find more complexity and a slightly vegetal nose. But it is Piastraia 2004 (Sangiovese, Merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah) that reaches the top, with an expressive black fruits nose, very good acidity (uncommon for the wines from Bolgheri), good structure and long finish.
- Altesino (Tuscany). Its Rosso di Altesino 2006 (Sangiovese 80%, cabernet sauvignon and merlot) represents a good price/quality ratio with good aromas and freshness. The Brunello di Montalcino 2003 is a good effort for a not happy year for Montalcino, with very good aromas and balance.
- Tenuta di Ghizzano (Tuscany). The wines of Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini have been very successful in the last years and this is confirmed here with Veneroso 2004 (70% sangiovese, 30% cabernet sauvignon) showing spicey and fruity aromas with good acidity, and Nambrot 2004 (70% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petit verdot) extremely balanced and powerful with black fruit and cassis aromas.
- Tua Rita. While I was not convinced by Rosso dei Notri 2006 (vegetal nose not really corresponding to the grapes used: 60% sangiovese, 30% merlot, 10% syrah) and Perlato del Bosco Rosso 2005 (rather impersonal), Giusto di Notri, both in the vintage 2005 and 2006, is a good wine with expressive aromas of cassis and prune with good finish.
- Villa Sparina (Piedmont). The two Gavi wines presented by villa Sparina were extremely different. Gavi di Gavi 2007 has good aromas of spices and cinnamon with great acidity and lenght, while the Gavi di Gavi "Monterotondo" 2006 shows a minty nose but a not well integrated oaky element.
- Braida (Piedmont). Bricco dell'Uccellone is as usual a representative of modern winemaking. This barbera is extremely powerful, with a strong structure and balance. The Bricco della Bigotta looks slighty closer at present but on the palate has a similar power and structure.
- Elio Altare (Piedmont). Elio is in Piedmont a symbol of modern winemaking in the Barolo area. He started three decades ago to experiment with shorter skin maceration and small barrels against the traditions of Barolo with the aims to create long ageing wines that were more drinkable in the short term and did not need the strong tannic component of long maceration. It was a pleasure discussing with him about the current situation in the wine world (for example the whole discussions about the future of Brunello). His wines were all remarkable, starting with Dolcetto d'Alba 2006 showing a perfect dolcetto nose. Barbera d'Alba 2006 is an example (opposite to Briada) of traditional barbera, and one of his best examples. Vigna Larigi 2005 (Barbera) is a very complex wine, powerful and long ageing.
- Paolo Scavino (Piedmont). I only had the time to try the Barbera d'Alba 2007, an excellent barbera, showing very good fruits.
- Parusso (Piedmont). The barolo's 2004 (Barolo and Barolo Bussia) while showing a very expressive nose, with the classic floral nebbiolo scents of violets/rose, are both a bit short on the finish.
Finally it was a big marathon and I needed some rest but as usual a big applause to Licata for organising such a wonderful opportunity for tasting an impressive range of good Italian wines and discussing them with their creators.