Critical Wine Verona Canceled

Wine blogger and Wine & Spirits Senior Editor Wolfgang Weber reports that Italy’s 2008 Critical Wine fair has been canceled. The fringe fair was to be held in Verona beginning April 3, 2008, to coincide with the Italian mainstream wine and spirits trade fair, Vinitaly (April 3 – 7).

According to Weber, who cites an email message from one of the fair’s organizers, the event was canceled after the mayor of Verona Flavio Tosi ordered the host venue closed. The event was to be held at the Centro Sociale La Chimica.

Critical Wine was founded in 2002 by food and wine writer and activist Luigi Veronelli. Its first fair was held in 2003 at the Centro Sociale Leoncavallo in Milan.

See this post by blogger Alan Toner for a history of Critical Wine.

Brunello Trademarked in US since 1994 according to Brunello Consortium President

According to a report published Wednesday by WineNews.it, the term Brunello was trademarked in the U.S. by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino in 1994.

“The Brunello trademark,” says Brunello Consortium president Stefano Campatelli, “has been registered in the U.S.A. since 1994 and the name Brunello is a denomination allowed by the European Union solely for Sangiovese Grosso grapes grown in the Township of Montalcino.”

Campatelli issued this statement in response to a press release circulated on Tuesday by Lorenzo Petroni of Petroni Vineyards. According to Petroni, he has received three letters from the Brunello Consortium asking him to stop labeling his wine as “Brunello” and he has vowed to fight the Consortium’s action through legal channels.

Brunello Consortium Asks California Winery to Cease and Desist

According to a press release issued yesterday by Petroni Vineyards (Sonoma, CA), the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello di Montalcino Consortium) has asked winemaker Lorenzo Petroni to stop labeling his wine as “Brunello.”

“The name Brunello refers to the grape and not the place where it is produced,” writes Petroni in the release.

When contacted by VinoWire, a winery spokesperson said that Petroni has been producing a wine called Brunello since 1998. The winery was first contacted on December 10, 2007 by the Consortium. A second letter was received on February 10, 2008 and a third on March 18, said the spokesperson.

Other Californian wineries label wines as “Brunello” and Californian nurseries sell “Brunello” rootstock, noted the spokesperson, and it is not clear if the Consortium has contacted other companies.

Florentine Officials Continue to Consider Controversial Plan for Selvapiana Mega Incinerator

On Friday, March 14, Decanter.com reported that Florentine government administrators will announce their decision on whether or not to allow the construction of a controversial so-called mega-incinerator in Selvapiana (Chianti Rufina) in June, 2008. Many believe that the planned expansion of the current incinerator (above, left) will threaten winemaking in Chianti Rufina by overwhelming the zone with pollutants and creating an eyesore that would hinder wine tourism.

The proposed mega-incinerator would lie literally a stone’s throw from the famed Bucerchiale vineyard, where one of Chianti Rufina’s most famous crus is sourced by the Selvapiana winery.

Nicolas Belfrage and VinoWire’s Franco Ziliani published this editorial in Harpers on November 10, 2006.

Barbaresco Santo Stefano 2004 Castello di Neive

When you mention Santo Stefano, the first wine that comes to mind is one of the greatest wines ever produced: Bruno Giacosa’s Nebbiolo della Langa Albese, which he produced for many years. But few remember that the entire Santo Stefano property (8 hectares, of which 6.72 are planted with Nebbiolo and just over 1 hectare of Barbera) is owned by the Stupino brothers, owners of the Castello di Neive winery, a beautiful estate, known for its Roero Arneis, Dolcetto d’Alba Basarin, and their fantastic Barbaresco Santo Stefano.

Castello di Neive first produced its Barbaresco Santo Stefano in 1967. 24,000 bottles were produced from the 2004 harvest, a great vintage.

Some call Santo Stefano a “magic vineyard”: southern exposure, 270 meters a.s.l., calcareous marl subsoil, vines 30-40 years old, planted mostly with Nebbiolo Lampia and a reasonable amount of Nebbiolo Rosé. The grapes were picked in October, maceration and fermentation lasted 15 to 20 days. Fermentation was carried out in stainless-steel fermenters with automatic punching down of the cap. The wine was aged in 30-50 hectolitre oak casks and then in bottle for at least 6 months before release.

I tasted the wine in London in December 2007 and made the following tasting notes:

    Color of medium intensity. The bouquet is very particular and fascinating: cocoa powder, dried roses, aromatic herbs, licorice, tobacco, and talc. Great freshness, lively, vibrant, fleshy fruit, solid tannins, great structure, large, full of energy, very satisfying, with a long finish. A great Nebbiolo expression, a true vin de terroir! Good aging potential: buy and lay down in your cellar!

– Franco Ziliani

What If All Tuscans Became Super Tuscans?

Does the world really need another Super Tuscan? This question plagued me as I tasted through the wines on display at the Gambero Rosso “Top Italian Wine Roadshow” at the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center in downtown San Diego where I was asked by many presenters to taste this or that “new” Super Tuscan.

Some believe that the term Super Tuscan was coined by Nicolas Belfrage and was first used in print in Life Beyond Lambrusco (1985), co-authored by Nicolas and Jancis Robinson. The early Super Tuscans were generally made with international grape varieties and the wines generally saw some time in new wood. Because the wines — most famously, Sassicaia and Tignanello — did not meet standards for any existing appellations at the time they were first released, they were officially classified as vini da tavola or table wines, even though they were marketed as high-end wines.

According to usage, a Super Tuscan is a Tuscan-made wine that 1) does not meet requirements set forth by local appellation laws (in many cases, this is due merely to the fact that a given wine uses grape varieties not allowed by the appellation); or 2) has been intentionally declassified by the producer. While barrique aging is often used for Super Tuscans, barrique is not a sine qua non.

One of the reasons why the term Super Tuscan helps winemakers to sell wines in the United States is the moniker itself: it just sounds good and it implies that the wines are somehow better, that they surpass the rest of the field.

But because the term Super Tuscan is now applied to wines made in Bolgheri (on the Tuscan coast), Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, Chianti Colli Fiorentini (and other subzones), Montalcino, Montecucco, Montepulciano… and the list goes on… it has became a de facto über-classification that eclipses the personality of those places and the character of the persons who make those wines.

Tuscans are a highly diverse group of people and their language, their food, their traditions, and their wines change from city to city, town to town, from village to village (and from principality to principality, we would have said in another age). Just ask a Florentine what s/he thinks of the Pisans and you’ll see what I mean (and I won’t repeat the colloquial adage nor the often quoted line from Dante here). I’ve traveled extensively in Tuscany and have spent many hours in its libraries, its trattorie, and wineries. I would certainly be disappointed if the Tuscans, like their wines, all became Super Tuscans.

– Jeremy Parzen

Click here to see VinoWire’s Jeremy Parzen video tour of the Gambero Rosso Roadshow tasting in San Diego (including interviews with Darrell Corti, Daniele Cernilli, and Marco Sabellico).

Franciacorta DOCG Tasting, March 19, Florence

The Grand Hotel, Florence (Piazza Ognissanti 1, entrance on Via Montebello), will host the Franciacorta Consortium tasting on March 19, 4:00 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Giardino d’Inverno Room).

Participating wineries: Antica Fratta, Barone Pizzini, Bellavista, Berlucchi Guido, Bosio, Ca’ del Bosco, Ca’ del Vent, Cantina Chiara Ziliani, Castel Faglia, Contadi Castaldi, Conti Bettoni Cazzago, Cornaleto, Faccoli Lorenzo, Ferghettina, Fratelli Berlucchi, Gatta, Il Mosnel, La Montina, Lantieri de Paratico, Longhi de Carli, Majolini, Mirabella, Monte Rossa, Montenisa, Ronco Calino, Tenuta Monte Delma, Uberti, Villa, Villa Crespia Fratelli Muratori

At 6:30 p.m., registrants can attend a seminar entitled “Franciacorta, un territorio, un vino” (“Franciacorta, a Region and its Wines”).

To register, contact Francesco Ruchin at the Tuscan chapter of the Associazione Italiana Sommeliers at (011 39) 055 8826803 or Ass.toscana@aistoscana.it.

This touring tasting will also visit Padua, Parma, Erbusco, and Berlin. For details, visit www.franciacorta.net.