Sunday, April 21, 2013

Where was the Wine Advocate at Vinitaly?

I woke up this morning and didn’t know where I was or what day it was. I’ve been traveling a bit lately. Fortunately I was in West Texas and among friends. Which, considering my orientation, is no easy task. 

Something about Vinitaly has been bothering me. As much as this last Vinitaly was a blur, what with way too many obligatory meetings (and twice as many that I was unable to make), friends who I never got to see, and not enough time in the 15 minutes that was allotted to me. No, what is kind of bothering me was some of the missing press coverage. The Wine Spectator made a giant leap into the Italian pudding, they showed up. The Wine enthusiast folks were also there, although Monica Larner, their Italian reporter, reported that she was in France. Odd, huh?

The Italians were there, the bloggers, the many different reports and newsletters and reviews. I think I even saw poor Daniel Thomases nodding asleep in the Veronelli offices.

American bloggers showed up. Jancis Robinson had her people there too, officially and unofficially in Walter Speller and Alder Yarrow. It was even rumored that some folks saw James Suckling make an appearance or two. So who was missing? Who do you think?

Where were the Wine Advocate folks? Galloni was no longer with them, and he was at Pebble Beach, in any case. I asked; no one saw anyone from Robert Parker and his new investors in the Wine Advocate.

Sure, Bordeaux had their big show, even though Parker had gone some time before the crowds. The En Primeur 2013 was no big shakes, apparently, in comparison to the action at Vinitaly. So why did Parker and his new crew snub Vinitaly this year? Who knows? One thing for sure, to not show up for one of the top shows for wine on Planet Earth is surely more than an oversight. Perhaps the re-org over at TWA is more important than ¼ of the wine producers on Planet Earth in one place.

For my part, I’m not surprised. France fares first. Hell, Italy doesn’t even rate sloppy seconds, falling behind Napa and the New World noise that they who lead must follow. I think it is short sighted and somewhat disrespectful. Sure Galloni wouldn’t have come anyway. I get it, he writes his own ticket. In fact, Antonio did show up in Italy after the show was over. If I was pushed and pressed the way I was at Vinitaly, one could only imagine what manner of rendering Galloni would have to be subject to at Vinitaly.

I loved it. Couldn’t get enough of it. Will go back again in a few weeks for some more. In the meantime, the Wine Advocate folks were M.I.A. Maybe they are introverts. But, hey, so am I. This is a relationship show. They were a no-show at the Big Show in Verona.

The tides are shifting in Italy. The influences are changing. The stakes are rising. The race is to the swift.

Interesting times in Sunny Old Italy.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


  1. Absolutely dead on. It makes very little/no sense to me for the Advocate not to show. You would think that given all the problems they have had recently that might want to show a little respect for Italy. But of course that might give the impression that you care about the wine and producers from Italy. When you think about it, they don't even have an Italian reviewer so maybe it is best they they didn't show. After 10 years of subscribing and 8 years on the Parker board I am past done with them, my subscription will end after the next issue. And I have already quit the board. As for Galloni, I really wish he would have made a showing. Would have been good for him and his image. I love his writing on Italian wine and think he is the best in the business. But he seems to want to be in some glass tower tasting 30 year old Barolo by himself all the time. He needs to get down on the street with the peasants, meaning us, once in a while. I know Vinitaly is not the perfect setting to taste wine, and the bathrooms aren't great or even good sometimes and the food is lacking, and about ten other things you can come up with. But it's all about the wine. And the people that make it. In one day I tasted/talked with Luca Currado from Vietti, Giuseppe Vajra, Alex Sanchez from Brovia, Andrea Cortonesi from Uccelliera and Vogliero, Giovanni Pasquero-Elia from Paitin. And I was there for another two days. Plenty to see and do. Sorry I missed you. But if he is not at Vinitaly, Galloni needs to get his website up and running. It would be good for him and Italy and wine overall.

  2. WA has confirmed that Monica Lerner is the new Italian reviewer. And Luis Gutierrez is the Spanish reviewer.

  3. Don't know if you have seen Larner's comment as to why she didn't show up at Vinitaly. It makes no sense. It almost seems as if everone that joins The Wine Advocate starts making bad decisions.

  4. thanks. I dont go there. My friend Robert puts things up there, but I way too thin-skinned for those folks.

    I did read her statement on the WA BB and it seemed thoughtful and measured. I wish her good fortune - Monica is a nice person - and even though her style varies from Galloni's, she'll be fine.

    Interesting that two women, Monica and Kerin, are following Italian wine for the two publications. That's always interesting to have the feminine aspect when it comes to tasting and reviews.

    Thanks for the updates, Gary

  5. Alfonso, Now that I am thinking about it. Was kind of wondering if you were going to post anything about the passing of Frano Biondi Santi. I know it kind of got mixed up with the start of Vinitlay. And I am seeing reports of the passing of Pedro Lopez de Heredia. Two important figures in wine gone. Sad.

  6. Gary-

    I never met the man. It seems there have been all manner of folks scrambling to memorialize the man.

    There is another Italian who recently passed, who I did meet and who actually had more influence on me personally. He wasn't in the wine business. That will show up here eventually.

  7. Kind of makes sense considering your deep love and respect for Brunello. Looking forward to reading the note.

    Concerning Larner/O'Keefe - I would bet that one of them will succeed and one will fail. Just by the numbers. No real way to predict. I have read/seen little from both. Larner has a much tougher job. I have read one tasting note from her. It talks about a wine that has "melted chocolate fudge at it's core". And she gave it a 95. Kind of suspect to me. But hey, let's give her a chance. With the state of the WA, not sure there is any path to success for her.

  8. Considering the current state of litigious emotion that has been implemented to "safeguard the public image of winemakers, Brunello, and the Montalcino territory", I'm not sure it is safe for anyone to express an opinion on the wines or the people...

  9. Well I am not exactly a safe person. I have liked most of the people I have met from Montalcino and the area. This past Vinitaly was not an exception to that fact. Some very genuine and real people. And I like the wine most of the time. Wish it was a little better priced, but I can say that about quite a few wines. The image of Brunello I have absolutely no use for. Some of the big houses with a lot of money and power are much of the problem with Brunello.