You would think that a 4 day wine festival would drag on, but it doesn't. It goes very fast. And before you know it Day 4 arrives and you feel that there is so much more still to do.
One of the things I really needed to do was find a Pinot Grigio. I am not a fan of jumping on bandwagons, but distributor extraordinaire, Nick Butler, suggested strongly to me that it was a "must have" in the portfolio.
Normally wines find me rather than the other way around. There is only one occasion when I went looking for a wine, a Chardonnay. I was referred to a producer whose Chardonnay...... I hated. But the maker was the infectiously happy Augusto Zuffa, and he had a boatload of wines that were great....and a business relationship was born.
My process is to look for a good label first, then try the wine and see if it is ok. Then it comes down to price etc. So I went to the Fruili Venezia Guilia Pavilion and started from ground zero. There is a bar in the centre of the pavilion that has a couple of hundred bottles representing the producers inside the Pavilion. You can scan the labels, taste them and then head off to the producer stand to talk some business. But in this Pavilion the usually friendly member of the Assocazione Italiana Sommelier fraternity was not playing ball. He gave all of his attention to one guy and apart from the odd arrogant glance in my direction refused to engage. This went on for a full 5 minutes......I was getting a little testy. Oh well I thought, who needs the sommelier. I just scanned the labels that I liked and went in search of their makers.
Ironically this led me to 3 entirely different producers. One, a small humble husband and wife owned business, the second a very arty, sharp medium size group and the third was owned by 2 legends of the US wine & food industry, Lidia and Joseph Bastiniach. All were very friendly and accommodating, all had completely different versions of Pinot Grigio and all were at different price points. In true wine snob fashion my favourites went from most expensive to less so. But as I continually remind myself, I am not buying for me....I am buying for my clients. And the wine which would have the broadest appeal turned out to be the wine at the lowest price point. It's packaging wasn't the best of the three but it was more than acceptable. The people that owned the winery were a terrific couple who wanted to give me samples there and then. I took a bottle to stash in my suitcase to put to the taste test back in Australia with the right palates. Let's hope that I have chosen well.
After lunch on Day 4 you can feel the event winding down. The crowds thin, there is a scramble for half empty bottles by some tipsy locals and the producers start the tedious "pack up" tasks. I find it a sad time. That this outer worldly convention of 4500 producers in some of the most cutting edge stylistic architecture will soon be gone for another year.
I wander the pavilions and say goodbye to the producers who are clients, and those that I hope one day I can accommodate. They are all wonderful people...friendly, respectful and full of passion and energy. It is a great honour to represent the wineries that I do and VinItaly is a great spur for to me grow my sales so that I can bring more of their wonderful produce to our country.
If you love wine a visit to VinItaly must be on your bucket list. A day is too short, a couple maybe just right. Day 2 & 3 would be my pick. Then experience the beautiful small city of Verona.......Osteria del Bugiardo, Piazza Delle Erbe, the pasta, the gelato the wonderful wines.....and yes, maybe even Romeo and Guilietta. A wonderful event in a wonderful town......Ci vediamo prossimo anno!