Italy’s Best and Brightest Wineries Gather for OperaWine

Some of Italy’s most amazing wines flowed freely in Verona on April 13 at the 13th edition of OperaWine. The gala tasting spotlighted 131 of Italy’s top names in wine. Created by Wine Spectator in partnership with Vinitaly and Veronafiere, OperaWine has become the unofficial kickoff to Vinitaly, Italy’s largest wine trade fair.

“OperaWine—it’s an institution now. It’s how we start Vinitaly,” said Filippo Mazzei, managing director and co-owner of Mazzei wines, which includes Castello di Fonterutoli and Belguardo estates in Tuscany and Zisola in Sicily. “And of course, for each of us, it’s a show representing what we are doing now.”

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Nearly 1,900 people attended the invite-only tasting, held in the spacious Gallerie Mercatali. The crowd included international journalists, sommeliers, wine experts and educators.

“One of our favorite ways to highlight Italian wine each year is at OperaWine, with the tasting of ‘Finest Italian Wines,’” said Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson. “The first edition was 2012, and more than a decade later we’ve expanded the tasting from 100 to 130 producers, showcasing the breadth and diversity of high quality Italian wine.” Wineries from all 20 Italian regions poured at the event, selected by Wine Spectator senior editors.

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Italy’s Diverse Wine Scene Is the Big Draw

While guests could find top examples of Brunello and Barolo, Soave and Fiano, the wines also represented Italy’s incredible diversity of grapes, regions and styles, from a Sicilian blend of Nero d’Avola and Perricone to Sagrantino from Umbria to a Tintilia from Molise.

The latter was Catabbo’s Tintilia in Anfora, fermented in clay vats. “Our Tintilia in Anfora has attracted the attention of many importers and many, many curious wine lovers,” said Sara Catabbo of Cantine Catabbo. “Maybe for the novelty of the grape or maybe for the use of the amphora. I don’t know! Fact is that it was a great success!”

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This year’s OperaWine put an additional focus on Sicily, a reflection of the ongoing importance of these wines in the U.S. market as well as the synergy displayed by the region’s producers as they continually strive for greater quality. In total, 16 Sicilian wineries poured at the 2024 tasting, including 11 who had attended before. The five newcomers included estates owned by producers with historic wineries in Piedmont or Tuscany who saw potential in Sicily and found success investing there two or three decades ago.

“We might not have planned to show a Sicilian wine [at OperaWine],” said Mazzei, who usually pours a gran selezione Chianti Classico from his family’s Castello di Fonterutoli estate. “But then we were very happy. It was good and interesting communication [about Sicily.]”

Vinitaly Continues to Grow

At the Vinitaly wine fair, which took place during the four days following OperaWine, approximately 4,600 exhibitors welcomed more than 130,000 visitors from around the world. But for those lucky enough to attend, OperaWine was a highlight.

“It was a great and…

Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/operawine-2024-edition