Very few wine producing nations bring as much panache to their tastings as do the Italians.
The Italian Trade Commission recently sponsored its ninth annual tasting in Vancouver..
The Italians have sponsored tastings in Toronto and Montreal for 19 years; those cities are the major Canadian markets for Italian wine. In the last decade, Italy has made more of an effort in Western Canada as well, trying to win away consumers that buy most of their wine from Australia, California, South America and British Columbia.
Perhaps half of the 37 wineries at the Vancouver tasting have no wines in the market. Those wineries were looking for agents and listings in the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.
The LDB currently lists 460 Italian products, including multiple sizes and fortified products. Sales of Italian wines in British Columbia in the 12 months ended September 30 totalled $59.2 million, up five per cent from the previous 12 months.
It is a sliver of the market. The LDB’s total sales in the same 12 months were just under $3 billion.
But the Italian sliver is worth exploring, to discover the excellent “new world” styling of the wines. In the past decade or two, Italian producers have really raised the bar. And they are doing it with varietals that grow primarily in Italy. The taste profile of Italian wines is a refreshing change to palates that may have become jaded with Merlot and Shiraz.
Their edge comes from using varietals not even grown in much of the rest of the wine world. When you add those novel flavours to modern wine making, you get crisp, fresh whites without a trace of oxidation and you get juicy and appealing reds without the hard tannins of yesteryear.
Italy still offers the familiar brands that have been on the market for years and years, but made to improved quality standards. One example is a 45-year-old brand, Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio Classico ($14.99), a crisp, refreshing white still being sold in the green hourglass shaped bottle. Many of us bought it initially because the bottles, like the Chianti in the “fiasco” served well as candle holder.
Fazi Battaglia is an example of why the Italians are competitive. Verdicchio is an ancient variety that is planted widely in central Italy but hardly anywhere else. The LDB’s tasting notes speak of flavours of baked apple, hazelnut and ripe melon. The wine is light but it has its own personality...
...The bottom line is that the Italians, by adopting cutting edge winemaking techniques but not jettisoning their traditional varietals, are producing wines that are unique.
Via Mariano Pallottini