No Need to Complicate Matters. Just Keep It, “Simply Italian.”
If you’re a seasonal Italian wine lover, it’ll soon be time to switch bold wines like Barolo for lighter ones like Spumante. The time for summertime sips is near and the Simply Italian Wines Tour 2020 offered members of the trade and some lucky consumers too, a sneak peek of some new Italian wines that you should look for this summer. However, could our accessibility to those ‘yet to be discovered’ wines soon be threatened?
While I was delighted to attend and learn from some well-respected wine gurus, the whisper of an industry that may have its future threatened seemed to linger in the air. Not by climate change, but the threat of tariffs. Looking around at the many areas of the wine world present (like importers, wholesalers, retailers and sommeliers), I couldn’t help but wonder if the simple love of Italian wine could become simply complicated? Today, more than ever, seemed like a call to action.
What is I.E.E.M.?
The 2020 Simply Italian Great Wines Tour is an annual trade tasting event organized by International Event & Exhibition Management (IEEM) They have offices in Miami and Verona, Italy, and was founded in 1999 by Giancarlo Voglino and Marina Nedic, the company’s directors.
The 2020 tour kicked off at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale with the seminar rooms and walk-around tasting areas flanked by gorgeous ocean to blue skies views. Did you know that Florida is one of the top five states responsible for almost two-thirds of Italian wine imports?
Throughout the day, the Enjoy European Quality Program provided food such as deli meat and cheese to increase the awareness and recognition of European quality products within the food and wine sector.
The Sit-Down Seminars
James Beard Award-winning writer and WSET wine educator Lyn Farmer led two seminars: “One Denomination, Three Great Wines: Asti, Asti Secco, Moscato d’Asti DOCG” presented by the Consortium per la Tutela dell’Asti DOCG and “The Sparkling Life—Fresh & Fun Wines from Friuli” presented by the Consortium Tutela Vini DOC Friuli Grave.
Master Sommelier, Laura DePasquale directed, “Verdicchio, The Essence of a Land” presented by Instituto Marchigiano di Tutela Vini (IMT). Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, President of Federdoc presented, “Federdoc: Traceability & Regulation of Italian DOC Wines & Ricci Curbastro: Heritage & Innovation.” Charlie Arturaola, sommelier and the main actor in two wine-themed, fictionalized documentaries, led a food and wine pairing, “DOC delle Venezie, Pinot Grigio Stile Italiano” presented by the Consorzio Tutela Vini DOC delle Venezie.
Wine preference of course, is subjective but from the twenty-five upward wines tasted, here are my personal favorites:
Moscata Mongioia Moscato D’Asti 2019: It’s difficult for me to appreciate Moscato. However, keeping an open mind and being educated by the winemakers themselves really did help change my perceptions. Riccardo and Maria Bianco of Mongioia introduced us to this amphora-aged wine. Maria encouraged us to pursue a different way to live with Moscato and drink it not just as an aperitif, but experiment with pairings such as shrimp and oysters. You can read more about their wines here.
Moncaro Verde Ca’Ruptae Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi D.O.C. Classico Superiore 2018: Images of future wine pairings popped into my head as I sipped on this gem! After hearing Laura’s suggestion that Verdicchio pairs well with fried chicken, you may just find me in a drive-through spot sometime soon. I loved the yeastiness, but you can read the full tasting notes here.
Dal Cero Corte Giacobbe Pinot Grigio Ramato D.O.C. 2019: This wine’s coppery color is appealing, and its perfume of tropical fruits and wildflowers is scrumptious—making it perfect for poolside sipping or paired with summer dishes such as pasta salads or with nibbles of Parmesan cheese. Learn more about this wine here.
Fossa Mala Ribolla Gialla Brut: This wine is a festive one. It’s traffic light yellow bottle and spritely persistence make it great for a summer party. It’s perfectly fine as an aperitif and with this great value Spumante, you’ll be dancing through summer for days! Read more here.
Star of the Show
The most inspiring presentation was delivered by Riccardo Riccci Curbastro. The history of Federdoc through the tasting of five wines by Ricci Curbastro electrified my intellect and palate.
Established in 1979, Federdoc is the Voluntary Consortia National Confederation for the Protection of the Italian Wines Designations. Simply put, they oversee and protect all of the denominations of origin in Italy (including IGT, DOC and DOCG) and provide a comprehensive and updated educational resource for anyone interested in Italian wine. Curbastro is the president and you can watch his explanation of Federdoc here.
“The geography of Italy has been creating this great richness,” explains Curbastro. “We must find a solution of protecting the richness, but still be on the market and also effective.”
Curbastro is also the owner of the Ricci Curbastro Estate in Franciacorta.
While all of the other wineries were new to me, I was already familiar with Franciacorta from his estate and drank the 2006 Franciacorta Satèn Brut Museum Release (100% Chardonnay) for New Year’s Eve.
Of the five Ricci Curbastro wines I tasted, my favorites were the Franciacorta Extra Brut (50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay); Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero “Gualberto” (60-70% Pinot Noir and 30-40% Chardonnay); and Curtefranca Rosso DOC Vigna Santella del Gröm (30% Cabernet Franc, 12% Carmenère, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 10% Barbera.)
A Caveat and Conclusion
The caveat is that none of the wines just mentioned has yet reached the South Florida market. I hope now more than ever, consumers will be able to enjoy them.
One can only fear the long-term impact of possibly a 100 percent tariff on European wine. The effects of now four months of a 25 percent tariff imposed on some French, Spanish, British and German wines have already taken its toll.
All of the wines presented had very reasonable retail prices. However, would a consumer be willing to pay for example, double for a $10 Pinot Grigio and then $40 for that same wine in a restaurant?
It won’t be just the European wine industry that suffers because the impact on American counterparts will be devastating.
Most likely, the lesser known and boutique wineries could face a long term disconnect from a rapidly growing, wine savvy audience who want to learn more about what’s in their glass—the region; terroir; the growing interest in indigenous grapes and biodynamic wines. Wine tourism could also be impacted.
The conclusion? For now, Italian wines (and food) have been spared from the crossfire of this tariff war. However, the World Trade Organization has granted the United States permission to tax as much as $7.5 billion of European exports each year—an amount that could cripple any given industry.
We’ll have to wait and see and hope that our love for Italian wine won’t become just simply more complicated.
Do you work in the wine industry? Feel free to comment about how your business could be affected by a 100 percent tariff.