I headed back to the fair and bumped into Venetian restaurateurs Cesare, Luca, Gigi, and Albino, who'd been tasting all morning. They introduced me to some of their favorites—murky, old-style Prosecco from Costadila; well-priced, easy-drinking sparkling Malvasia and astounding ice wine from Croci; Dolcetto and Barbaresco from Serafino Rivella; Barbera from Reginin; Nebbiolo and Barolo from Giuseppe Rinaldi. I took a break, and visited with Manfredi and Francesco Guccione, Benjamin Zidarich, and Arianna Occhipinti. And concluded with a Sicilian tasting—Baracco Grillo, Bonavita Faro, and Salvo Foti's group I Vignieri and their Etna Rosso. No more Il Cantante—owner Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) pulled the plug.
I checked into the comfortable, reasonably priced Hotel Villa Bartolomea
and had dinner at Antica Trattoria Bellinazzo (no website)—lovely
salumi, baccalà and polenta, bigoli with donkey ragu (translated as "ass
sauce" on the menu). The room was packed with wine makers who shared
their wines with us—we drank Dario Princic, Zidarich, and Podere Le Boncie.
always rains during Vinitaly, which makes hikes between pavilions a
pain, but this year was the exception, with hot summery weather. I met
hotelier friends Leonardo and Luciano (Hotel Shalai, which you'll read about in my upcoming Sicilian series--stay tuned!) at the Sicilian pavilion, tasted Etna Reds from Graci and Girolamo Russo, said ciao to the Tasca and Planeta clans, and met new friend journalist Fabrizio Carrera, who shepherded me to Porta del Vento and Caravaglio. The rest of Italy beckoned and I was thirsty, so we went to Cavicchioli for some Lambrusco on the rocks and an Ivan sighting. He introduced me Emanuele from Pizzavacca,
insisted that I sample fruit juice (delicious) and then cotecchino with
Emanuele's green sauce, also delicious. Fortified, we cut through a
mixed pavilion to meet Piermario Cavallari, who was very excited about
his new wines from Elba, Vermentino, dry Agliatico rosé, and a fruity young red, all worth purchasing.
I had to take the Sicilians to the Tuscan pavilion to taste Brunello and greet my pals from the Brunello Consorzio—we sampled at Maroneto, Collemattoni, and Mastrojanni. Completing the Tuscan experience we chatted with Giovanni Manetti from Fontodi and tasted Chianti Classico and Flaccianello. I searched for Bettina Rogosky's Caberlot and recognized Renato de Bartoli nearby, son of Marco, who put modern Marsala on the map (he died last month). We had to taste, and toast his father.
In the Friuli pavilion we encountered Valter Sgarbolo, who directed us to his friend Joe Bastianich's stand, where we ran into Lidia Bastianich. We tasted at Lis Neris, said hi to Brigitte and Silvano at Le Vigne di Zamo, then went to Livio Felluga for a glass of Friulano with Maurizio, Elda, and Andrea Felluga. Vito always has time for a grappa from Domenis.
Was this why he was able to avoid most of the heavy traffic leaving the
fair? We went back to the Cerea fair for dinner. I'm always suspicious
about any meal billed as "gala," but Dario was presiding, cooking a
whole-cow dinner, showing the same kind of respect for the animal that
the winemakers have for their grapes and territory. Service was
family-style, enlivened by lots of wine-toting table hoppers. Everyone
had a fantastic time.