Best Wines to Drink Now – Spring 2024 – Live from Vinitaly 2024

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Presented by Felix Jermann

Felix Jermann represented the younger generation of his family’s renowned winery.  Together with friends from other wineries across Italy, Jermann sought to bring contemporary wines to the audience and encourage a discussion about generational shift in Italy’s famous cantinas.

First up was Jakob Gasser from St. Michael Eppan, presenting his ​​Alto Adige Doc Riesling “Fallwind” 2023.  This wine was fresh and gorgeous, a pale lemon color with a racy acidity and big aromatics focused on botanical notes, lime zest and quinine.  Very refreshing and definitely drinkable, balanced and well made.

Alessio Inama presented his Soave Doc Classico “Foscarino” 2022 from nearby in Veneto.  He is part of the 3rd generation at the winery, along with his two brothers.  He laughingly remarked, “we are weird because we’re originally from Alto Adige,” but his family’s vineyards now benefit from the volcanic hills of Soave.  His contribution to the topic of generational change was to admit “it can be difficult.  It can be disruptive.  It should be a moment of rebirth.  I manage communication and we have improved quality, we’ve improved communication, we’ve improved perception.  There’s a lot more to come.”  The wine was a classic Soave with a gently grippy, chalky palate and notes of lemon zest, white grapefruit and green apple all adding to the fresh quality of the wine, helped along by a note of sea salty brine.  Acidic and bright, easy to drink and very pleasant.

Number 3 was Russiz Superiore Collio Doc Pinot Bianco 2022 from Marco Felluga, presented by 6th generation member Ilaria Felluga, who Jermann introduced as “the Collio baby! The best presenter for Friuli.”  Felluga reminded us that this is a tiny, old denomination, certified in 1968.  Jermann joked, “Italy really ends in Venezia.  Nobody knows where Friuli is.  How do we change this?”  Felluga’s reply showed their friendship as she jibed, “You work in communication, so you fix it!”   She described the wine as “a wine from the heart, one my father and grandfather loved.”  Indeed, the pale lemon colored wine had the most attractive floral nose, with scents of white wisteria, white lilac and white citrus blossom.  The flavors of green pear and white peach, a touch of acacia and hazelnut, a yogurty creaminess combined with a saline touch of minerality and a slight grip on the palate created a delicious, complex Pinot Bianco that was very hard to put down.

We moved to Tuscany for the fourth wine, Rosso di Montalcino Doc Biologico 2021 from San Polo, presented by Carlotta Mastella Allegrini, daughter of Marilisa Allegrini.  Jermann introduced the winery as “a new project from the Allegrini ladies, a younger, more approachable way to see Sangiovese, and I love all the passion they have.  For Spring their Rosso is perfect.”  Allegrini told of how she “moved to Tuscany when I was 19 years old.  My mother fell in love with Montalcino and especially San Polo, but it’s a confusing area for consumers to understand.”  The vineyard is at a relatively high altitude for the area and has been certified organic since 2015. With a total of 22 hectares, the Allegrinis are vinifying each vineyard parcel separately.  Their eco-friendly cantina is totally underground.  Allegrini explained, “Sustainability has to be our business model, we are going to face challenges.  My father and my sister are philosophers.  We talk a lot about mental, physical and emotional wellness.  The immersion and connection with nature is a big part of what we focus on.”  The gorgeous ruby red wine was 100% Sangiovese, vinified in concrete and old neutral oak. The high acidity and graphite character of the wine played beautifully with the flavors of red cherry, blood orange, dried herbs like rosemary and thyme, and nutmeg.  Allegrini said, “It’s a gift to honor the land and for us, Rosso is just as important as Brunello.  It’s the first introduction for young people to Brunello and we want to make it well.”

Number 5 was Valtellina Superiore Docg Sassella “Stella Retica” 2019 from Ar.Pe.Pe.  On hand to present was Emanuele Pelizzatti Perego, representing the 5th generation.  He told us that “Valtellina wines do not fear time.  We try to be as gentle as possible to our wines.  We use all spontaneous fermentation.  It’s so important that we are fighting to protect our environment.”  The wine was a sheer ruby with a pale garnet hue and a warm, herbal, rosey nose with ferrous notes of minerality and gently sticky, dusty tannins.  The wine is deceptively light in character with an endless complexity and a long lingering finish of warm, ripe red cherry pie and cherry pipe tobacco.  

To finish the session, Jermann invited members of Le Sbarbatelle to join him.  This group of young female winery owners, all under the age of 40, was represented by Francesca Bonzano from Castello di Uviglie in Piemonte.  Bonzano talked about the group’s inception in 2017, which came together organically as the number of young women in sommelier training courses and in the world of Italian wine in general was increasing incrementally.  Bonzano explained, “we are a new generation, we are communicating, we are young and our name comes from the word for a young vine.  We are a movement and an event, we welcome everyone who is interested.”  Le Sbarbatelle (the name is a play on words and refers to both a young vine root and also a young person as yet unable to grow a beard) hold an annual event, typically combined with art, music, culture, where all the members present their wines and make use of the opportunity to network and demonstrate the increasing prominence of women in Italian wine.  

By Cynthia Chaplin IWA

May 27, 2024
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