Sometimes, it takes little courage to survive VinItaly
VERONA – Day One for VinItaly 2016 and it’s happy half-century, VinItaly. Under sunny skies and mild temperatures, the 50th edition of the world’s largest wine fair opened Sunday with Italian president Sergio Mattarello among the thousands of enthusiastic wine lovers in attendance.
The opening day was a Sunday, which may account for the late-arriving attendees, but you still found the expected boisterous jam around many of the stands. Of course, having the President here, with his large contingent of security men and advisors, simply added to the general hysterics.
If you’re experienced at VinItaly, negotiating the crowds is no problem and if you are particularly fortunate you’ll find a friendly booth where you might escape for a few minutes to rest and learn about a new wine region or more about an old fave.
I wedged myself into the tiny space occupied this week by winemaker Susanna Crociana of Montepulciano, who likes to say she was “nati en mezzo a botti e vigneti,” born among the barrels and vines.
Susanna makes several bottlings of Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, ranging from a lighter, everyday Rosso de Montepulciano IGT to the Riserva DOCG and the highly coveted Il Segreto di Giorgio. The latter is named after Susanna’s late brother Giorgio, who took over the winery following the death of their father but who in turn passed away in March of 2006.
His passing was particularly unfortunately in that he had just developed a special blend only to pass away before the first vintage was released. Susanna released that vintage in 2008 and now each year she releases the new vintage on Feb. 13, Giorgio’s birthday.
Susanna’s wines are made with the traditional Vino Nobile blend of 80 percent Sangiovese, 10 percent Canaiolo Nero and 10 percent Mamalo, an indigenous red grape that adds a rose-like bouquet to the wine. All of the wines are lush, deep in color and flavor and immediately approachable, although the 2012 Riserva still needs a year or two to blossom.
Women winemakers aren’t common in Italy and Susanna’s story stands out because she is running a successful business by herself, without parents or siblings for support or even advice. It’s no wonder her stand at VinItaly features four large murals displaying the words “Courage,” “Passion,” “Heritage” and “Time.”
We might have talked more but Susanna had an appointment with an importer and I was off to seek another quiet refuge in the buoyant chaos of VinItaly.