The 2018 Vini d'Italia tour was an invitation-only gathering to sample wines from some of Italy's best small-production wineries. After Philadelphia and Austin, the last stop was Terra, Eataly's rooftop dining room in the revitalized Century City Mall.
Marilyn Krieger works for the Winebow Group which organized the tour. She said that the event was an opportunity to taste premium Italian wines distributed by Leonardo LoCascio Selections (LLS) and to talk with the winemakers. The wines we would taste that afternoon would evoke the location of their cultivation and the winemaker whose palate guided the creation of that year's bottling. Each wine was unique. Each winemaker had a story to tell.
I understood completely what Krieger meant. I love visiting vineyards and enjoy meeting winemakers, like Shawna Miller at Luna Vineyards in the Napa Valley and Mélanie Weber in her vineyard overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
The wines served at the afternoon event traversed Italy.
Four rows of tables stretched the length of the large dining room and outside on the covered patio where winemakers and representatives of vineyards from all over Italy poured their vintages and talked about their wines.
To stimulate the palate, a table was set with fine cuts of charcuterie, rough-hew chunks of aged Parmesan, small plates of calamari fritti in a spicy marinara sauce, crusted mashed fingerling potatoes heavily seasoned with flake salt, pasta with fennel sausage and spring salads with burrata, English peas and fava beans.
Some of the wines poured that afternoon were not yet available. Those would be shipped in the fall, available for the holiday season. And, many were so prized, their small productions would sell out before their release dates.
For me, the best adventure as a travel and food writer is to visit wineries as I did in Napa and Switzerland, to spend time with winemakers, explore the area around the vineyards and enjoy the fruit of the vines.
At the Vini d'Italia event I did the next best thing. I traveled from table to table, criss-crossing Italy from north to south and along the way tasted a Brunello, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Barbera, Chianti, Barolo and a Soave Classico. Every wine was unique. Every winemaker had a story to tell.
I wish you could have been at the event. At the very least, look at the website and check with your local wine shop. Maybe you will find one of the wines we tasted. I hope so.
I look forward to enjoying the wines in a restaurant and seeing them in wine stores and I look forward to visiting the wineries in Italy to complete the experience.