The theme for the 2009 edition of Vinitaly, a well recognized and esteemed international wine exhibition, was “This is the world we love”.
What better place to demonstrate our love for wine, its terroir, and environment than Verona, the city of legendary Romeo and Juliet?
17th International Wine Competition Sponsored by the Organization Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin, the Union Internationale des Oenologues, and the Italian Republic Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policy and Ministry of Industry, this competition preceded the 43rd Vinitaly exhibition. Its purpose is to focus on the best wine production and to feature typical wines from the various wine producing countries, and ultimately rewarding the winning wineries thus encouraging them to continue(and improve) their products.
Each producer can submit only five wines in each of the categories. In the end, over 3,600 wines, representing thirty-four countries, were submitted. The wines were swirled, sipped and tasted by twenty-one panels, each comprising five judges.

Broken down into two categories – denomination of origin, and wines with geographical indication – the samples were further placed into a total of 28 categories. The wines were assessed and the score calculated using the arithmetical average of five evaluation sheets, after removing the highest and lowest scores. The process required 24,000 glasses and almost 22,270 evaluation sheets.

In And About Verona

Cantina Valpolicella Negrar
What began in 1933 as the Cantina Sociale Valpolicella,founded by seven partners so as to defend and protect the character and quality of Veronese wines, is today Cantina Valpolicella Negrar. This co-operative advises approximately 200 grape growers, proprietors of over 500 Ha of vineyards situated on the hillside ofthe Valpolicella Classico region in northwest Verona. Implementing a green philosophy, the cooperative practices integrated viticulture by minimizing the number of treatments to the vines and handpicking the grapes during harvest.
The winery produces over 8 million bottles a year, predominantly Amarone, Recioto and Valpolicella. Given their sound working relationship with growers in other Veronese viticultural zones, the company is able to offer other varieties such as Bianco di Custoza, Bardolino and Soave. As part of their “Domini Veneti”
project, that identifi es the best location of quality grapes, we were introduced to their special edition Amarone di Valpolicella made from Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes grown in the Jago zone. An inviting deep garnet colour, the wine goes on to reward your mouth with sheer pleasure that continues to a lingering and magnificent  finish. The label, designed by famed cartoon artist Milo Manara, is a clear reflection of the elegant wine that is to be found inside the bottle. Il Cenacolo, an elegantly rustic restaurant located at Via Teatro Filarmonico, 10 (and the site for the closing dinner in honour of the judges), is an experience not to be missed. Don’t expect a menu when you arrive as your server will inform you of fabulously delicious items from which you can make your selection. The fixed price for the multi-course meal is not cheap, but certainly reasonable given the quality and portion of the bill of fare. The cuisine, described as traditional northern Italy, focuses on grilled meats all of which is pleasingly presented. Of course, a selection of wine from their noteworthy list, and some tempting desserts, will beautifully complement an unforgettable dinner.

Cantina di Soave “Borgo Rocca Sveva”
This co-operative winery encompasses 4,200 Ha of vineyards, is owned by over 700 associates, and produces over 50,000,000 bottles that include Soave Classico DOC, Soave Classico Superiore Castelcerino DOCG, Recioto di Soave DOCG, Recioto di Soave Mida DOCG, and Amarone della Valpolicella. Together with the agricultural faculty of the University of Verona, the cooperative explores various methods, plantings as well as test the new grapes. At their large boutique,
visitors can purchase not only wines but also local products such as grappa, oil, and honey. Closed on Sunday, you should call ahead for tours, or visit

Colli Orientali Del Friuli
Abazzia di Rosazzo and Vinai Dell’Abbate, Manzano As an adjunct to the competition, a three-day tour to introduce us to Consorzio di Tutela Vini DOC “Colli Orientali del Friuli” was organized for a small group of journalists and judges. My own informative and education excursion began with a stay at the wellappointed Agriturismo Villa Butussi situated at Visinale dello Judrio.
After settling in, we were welcomed by the Consortium’s president and producers at the impressive Abbazia di Rosazzo in Manzano, founded in the eleventh century by Augustinian monks and later taken over by the Benedictines. Not only was it the birthplace of winemaking in northeastern Italy, but is still today instrumental in the preservation of Friulian enology such as Ribolla Gialla, Picolit and Pignolo varieties, the last of which is the estate’s signature grape and also called the “Barolo of Friuli”. Top marks go to Vinnai Dell’Abbate Pignolo Riserva, aged 22 months in barriques, with candidature for further aging of at least 10 years.

Balsameria Midolini Founded in 1969, Midolini produces approximately 2,000 casks of balsamic vinegar from its 34 Ha of land in Manzano, Udine. It is considered to be the largest producer of balsamic vinegar in the world, and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for its production of “Asperum”. This highly regarded product is made by baking white grape musts which is then aged for at least 25 years in a variety of wooden barrels. The Asperum 50 ml sells for 45 euros, and 100 ml. for 75 euros. Be assured, the palate will sing praises to this sensuous and exquisite product. Il Roncal In Friuli, ‘roncal’ loosely means “terraced estate on a hill”. This family owned small estate, with just 20 Ha of vineyards, prides itself in harmoniously blending traditional methods and modern technology to create exceptional wines. Of note is their Ploe di Stelis, made from Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and aged 5-6 months in oak for a truly exemplary white wine. Their “Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso” is a rich rubyred colour that teases the palate with hints at blackcurrants and berries and a lingering finish.

Consorzio Tutela del Ramandolo D.O.C.G
Next time you’re in the mood for relaxation and meditation, consider opening a bottle of ‘Ramandolo’ a dessert wine made from south-facing vines in the towns of Nimis and Tarcento – land of ancient Celts and Longobards. Made from the oldest grape
varieties in Friuli, Ramandolo was the region’s fi rst wine to acquire DOCG designation. It makes a stimulating accompaniment to
cured ham, smoked trout, foie gras, and seasoned cheeses, not to mention such regional desserts as biscuits, Ramandolini, Guvaba cake and Epiphany tidbits.


Ristorante Costantini
With a menu that changes with the seasons, this high-end restaurant serves mouthwatering menu items that begin with inspiring antipasto and pasta dishes, and progresses to a range of meat, fi sh, cheese and dessert choices. Come with an appetite, as you’ll want to savour many of the marvelously prepared fare with wines from their ample wine list. The restaurant, located in Collalto di Tarcento, is closed Sunday evening and Monday.
Among the many producers attending the dinner at the restaurant was Pierluigi Comelli, of Comelli winery. I was interested to learn more about their products, and had a chance to sample the intriguing “Ronc de Madelene Romandolo”, with scents of orange and dried apricots, that complements both prosciutto and dried biscuits alike.

The Association Schioppetino di Prepotto also conducted a special tasting of their product line, hosted at Vini Grillo winery.
This little-known grape variety (also called “Ribolla nera” or “Pokalca” ) survived both political and economic events in a region that embraces Italian, German and Slavic agricultural traditions. Its enticing bouquet of berries and cherries is enhanced with hints of spice reminiscent of green pepper, and it lends itself wonderfully to all types of meat and game dishes. A supple meditation wine, it possesses all the earmarks for greatness.
Our last day in Friuli began with a guided tour of Cividale Del Friuli, hosted by its mayor Attilio Vuga. The city, which requested inclusion in the World Heritage List UNESCO, is an historical treasure trove. In addition to its monuments, basilica, churches and other archaeological points of interest, it is the repository of
art, architectural and cultural records of the Longobards, a Germanic race that occupied the Italian peninsula between 568 and 774 A.C. Azienda Bastianich concluded our visit to Cividale del Friuli. Founded in 1997, the 28 HA of vineyards are all located in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC area, within two distinct zones. The original vineyard, Brutto/ Premariacco, produces powerful wines thanks to the warmth of the sea. The second property, located in Cividale del Friuli, is infl uenced by a north wind and provides wines of greater aromatic intensity in addition to the signature ‘minerality’ of all their wines. The 2005 Vespa Rosso, named after the ever present wasps attracted to the ripe grapes, is still young and features a delicate bouquet and strong tannins that make it perfect for future aging. Memorable was the 2008 Sauvignon “B”, with aromas of fresh cut grass and hints of mint and tropical fruit, leaves a clean mouthfeel that gives way to a lingering and pleasant fi nish.

Since our visit, Pierluigi Comelli, President of Colli Orientali Consortium and Paolo Comelli, of the Ramandolo Consortium, announced that an accord was reached to unite the two
consortiums into one entity. Once merged, the consortium will encompass 2,300 Ha of vineyards, include 208 associates, and entail a production of 115,000 hectolitres per year. The new consortium will feature three denominations: DOC Colli Orientali del Friuli; DOCG Ramandolo; and DOCG Picolit.



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