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Posted: Friday, October 30 2009. 12:09

Vino del Salone: Honey They Shrunk Me

The biennial Italian wine show at Torino previously held in 2007 made its seventh appearance, on October 24-26 but with a new image make over and with the space, size and participation downsized by more than half, showing the strains of recession, reports Subhash Arora.

The current version was a pruned down 3-day event held at the Lingotto Fiere, the same venue as the previous edition. It saw less than 140 exhibitors, all well accommodated in a single pavilion-no.2. Last time, there were 3 pavillions-2, 3 and 5, with over 250 exhibitors and about a thousand wineries participating.

The show is also undergoing an image makeover. The hitherto known Salone del Vino seems to be taking a lower billing with the new name, Wine Show along with a new logo  making a splash everywhere in the show as well as the printed material. Agreeing with delWine, Gianmarco  Sala, the Project manager of the new show said that the new organizers, GL Events – a French company to whom the fledgling show has been sold is trying to establish a new identity. He also seemed to concur that the old title might be dropped eventually.

But there are several critical issues to be resolved by the organizers. Whether it should be held every 2 years as recently or brought back to the annual edition as it was when it was started in 2001 would need to be discussed. They may also be giving a hard look at whether the show is worth continuing at all, as a viable business model. MiWine, the show that was initiated a few years ago in Milan died an early death despite the bravado put up by the organizers during the first couple of shows, trumpeting to outdo Vinitaly eventually.

Vinitaly has been and continues to be a strong Italian international wine show that gathers strength year after year despite some criticism of its size and that it does not have as much international presence as Vinexpo or the London Wine Show. It is extremely difficult for any other show within the country to compete with it. “We have no intention to compete with Vinitaly but would like to complement the show by giving the small and medium size producers, said Gianmarco Sala, Project Manager for the Lingotto Fiere.

Missing or Shinking

Missing in action at this edition were producers like Roberto Bava, Rocca delle Macie, Chianti Classico Consortium, San Gimignano Consortium and many such organizations. Donne delle Vino stand was a big draw last time, but was not seen this time anywhere. Stalls like the Sicily-based Donnafugata and the national autochthonous grape board  were shrunk in size, like most other stands. It appeared that the shadow of recession was everywhere including the visitors.

The new organizers had organized the B2B programme for 22 buyers compared to the 40 last time, though about 900 meetings were said to be organized in the newly designed Wine forum seemed to be an improvement on the old B2B format. Another change being planned by the new management is that the show will be focused on the consumers as well. ‘Previously, only the trade used to be invited. We feel that the consumers should be also allowed to participate in the tastings to make it a project of much wider perspective,’  said Gianmarco. An entry ticket of € 10-8 was available to public during the show which had been curtailed from the previous 4 days to 3 days.

Justifying the absence of big wineries, Sala tried to explain that the emphasis was more on the small to medium enterprises to enable those who could not afford to be at Vinitaly Showcase their products. But on talking to small producers like La Campore one got the impression that they were not too happy with the traffic of visitors. Similarly Ernesto Casetta of the winery of the same name in Vezza d’Alba, who has been a regular exhibitor at most such shows felt that the number of visitors was less this time despite the consumers being allowed. In their case, it may have been due to imbalance in planning which ended up blocking the gallery and spoiling the approach to their stand which might have meant shorter footfalls.

Champagne-like Bubbly from Trento DOC

Despite the constraints like recession, some of the programmes were quite impressive, beginning with the entrance which had Trento DOC welcoming visitors with the Champagne type of bubblies which have the Trento DOC appellation and are made from the champagne grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to enthrall the visitors from a range of about 15 different producers including Ferrari, Endrizzi etc, both of which I have visited many years ago and find them to be excellent producers.

Tasting of Autochthonous varietals

A big attraction at the show is generally a tasting of a huge variety of autochthonous grapes  by the National Association of Autochthonous Grapes, in which Italy excels. There were about 800 labels to taste from at two different stands last time, whereas this time it was truncated to only one stand with about 85 varieties from around 150 producers from 16 regions. Exotic varieties such as Lacrima de Morro Alba from Marche, Bonarda from Emila Romagna, Coda di Volpa from Puglia, Erbaluce, Freisa and Favorita and Ucelino, Grignolino and Ruché from Piemonte, Pecorino from Abruzzo, Monica from Sardegna and Schioppetino from Friuli Venezia Giulia were there to keep one busy in tasting the varietals some of which have an international taste that would please the non-local palate as well and offer a variety to the palate.

Also available for tasting were wines from the provinces of the region of Piemonte-Asti, Alessandria, Cuneo and Torino

Sushi and Wine Pairing

Another interesting event was presented by Kumiko Yamada, Director of Japan Sommelier Association,.She worked with the local restaurant Sushi Sound to pair with 5 Piemontese wines with local grapes- Timorosso white, Erbeluce white, Grignolino red, Nebbiolo d’alba,  and Arneis. It was a very well-paired affair suggesting strongly that with a  little bit of skill and hard work, the Japanese dishes which have a touch of Umami, can be also made to pair with the local wines.

Vertical Tasting of Biondi Santi

Every wine show has a show stopper, an event that people can talk about for time to come, an out of the ordinary performance. The Wine Show clearly had the vertical tasting of the Montalcino based top producer Biondi-Santi presented by the iconic 87-year old Franco Biondi Santi in collaboration with Slow Food.

For €80 one could taste wines from the vintages of 2001, 1998, 1983, 1970 and 1968. Though no translation was available, what was available for tasting was the kind of stuff legendry events are made of –and this was no exception. With Franco explaining and sharing his personal views on each of his ‘babies’ it was certainly a memorable event.

The organizers would be already busy doing introspection. Although the market is supposed to go up gradually from here on, what needs to be emphasized is that it may be a sound idea to concentrate only on the Piemontese wines, or maybe focus  on getting more of the foreign buyers, making it more productive for them to visit the show.

Only time will tell what course of action the new event management company takes.

For our earlier articles on the previous Show click here:

http://www.indianwineacademy.com/dm_171_item_4_2.asp

http://www.indianwineacademy.com/dm_171_item_4.asp

       

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