“Giovani Produttori Incontrano Giovani Consumatori” – Part 2

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This morning, I’m back at the Young to Young bloggers’ conference at Vinitaly again. In case you missed the first part of this story, here’s the link.

The two Ronnies are back too – again sporting those dashing bow-ties. This time, however, they are shoulder to shoulder with three bronzed winemakers, but of whom, none seem particularly young either.

Anyway, we start by a group photo.

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The first winery today is Ciù Ciù, in the Marche. The estate was founded in 1970 and has been working organically since ’96. I may have misunderstood – or rather, mistranslated – but I believe I heard that their vineyard extends to over 130 hectares!

Walter Bartolomei, the winemaker, cuts a curious figure. He walked into this rigid, white-tablecloth event wearing sunglasses and looking like he had just come off the set of the latest Italian mafia film. (He’s second from the left in the photo above, if you’re interested…)

He talks about his father’s attachment to the region and their experiences with different export markets around the world. Most recently, they have been pushing the US market and are currently waiting to see if the effort has paid off.

I’m very glad to have had two coffees this morning. The specifities of his particular winemaking technique were not easy to make out through such a thick accent.

Harvesting is, apparently, done by hand. They have a special way of reducing the temperature of the grapes during fermentation. The wine then spends 6 months in medium-sized oak barrels, on the lees, followed by 3 months to in bottles.

We try his Merlettaie 2014 (13.5% ABV) an Offida DOCG from Pecorino grapes (obviously not the cheese!) which sells for approximately 10 euros in an off-license in Italy. Offida is one of thirteen DOC or DOCGs in the Marche region. It has a gorgeous, very light, white gold colour. A very aromatic wine. A lot of banana flesh on the nose, with sweet tropical fruit coming afterwards – in particular, green mango skin and some vanilla. The wine continues on the banana theme in the mouth too, off-set by a sapid salinity. Easy and excellent value for money.

The next wine is from the Azienda Agricola Simon di Brazzan, located in Fruili. The farm comprises 11 hectares of vines, which are currently being fully converted to biodynamic agriculture. Apparently, they should receive the official certification later this year.

The owner, Daniele Drius, is 40 years young and their oenologue, Natale Favretto, is apparently a true naturalista. (What thay means exactly, I don’t know… but I hope it doesn’t mean he walks around naked….)

We try the Blanc de Simon Tradition 2010, a Venezia Giulia IGT at 14% ABV, made from Tocai Friulano. The wine is made with 6 days of skin-contact maceration, then 30 months of aging in wood and finally an additional 12 months to rest in the bottle.

It has a beautiful, intense, straw-yellow colour. Aromatically, it is rich and citrusy (in particular: cedrat), with spice (saffran) and honey. Structurally, it’s a fantastic wine. Full bodied, generous, persistent. There’s a superb finish to round the whole thing off.

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And finally, we have someone who speaks with some charisma! Cataldo Calabretta, a 38-year-old Calabrian local. (He’s on the far right in the photo above – the only one not wearing a suit.) As the microphone is passed over to him, his eyes light up. He smiles as he tells us of his background.

He studied oenology in Milan and worked for ten years in different places before coming back to take the reins of the family farm. He describes the challenge of working with minority local grape varieties, about which he was never taught at school. 2012 was his first vintage and last year, he produced approx 25000 bottles.

This is the first time I’ve ever drunk a wine from the Cirò appellation down in the southern-most point of the Italian boot. As is typical for such arid climate, the vines are grown in albarello. The soil is charcterised predominantly by clay and limestone and, apparently, everyone in this area has a vineyard, but only a very few are winemakers.

Cataldo Calabretta’s Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore DOC. 2013. Grape variety: Gaglioppo. Upon getting back to Paris, I was able to read up about this variety in my Wine Grapes. “A characterful red wine grape from Calabria” apparently. There is a total of 3700 hectares planted with this indigenous grape and it is nearly always the predominant grape in the Cirò DOC.

2013 was a relatively cool year in Calabria – n.b. 2012 was hot and very difficult! The maceration lasted two weeks, roughly, and then the nascent wine was moved to cement containers for 10 months of aging.

It’s a very nice discovery. A pretty ruby red tint. It reveals subtle aromas of red fruit and black cherries. There’s a touch of balsamic too. The mouth is light, fresh and full of energy. Tannins are rustic and still very young. They gain in force as you slurp but then subsequently mingle with a spicy acidity to provide a pleasant but short-ish finish. (Retails for 10-12 euros a bottle, apparently.)

I liked all the wines today actually. Simple, young wines but with three completely different personalities.

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