Was fortunate enough to attend this event in NYC. Also thankful that I was able to get there early, as it became an absolute zoo after about an hour and a half.
This is my second attendance, the last being in 2009. In a space of two years, I find that the red wines have become more and more monolithic. Taken to an extreme, there were no wines that I tasted that were remotely traditional. This is especially true of Tuscany, where there were some decidedly mediocre wines, mostly from the 2007 vintage. I also did not encounter one great sangiovese-based wine. There also wasn't a single distinguishable Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The whites, on the other hand, are, as a group, much more distinctive.
Petrolo 'Galatrona' 08, Tuscany - IMO, the best merlot out of Italy, more impressive than the Ornellaia Masseto or the Tua Rita Redigaffi. The new oak is definitely evident, but the fruit takes precedence. Harmonious. Not as good as the 06, but still a long life ahead.
Ornellaia Bolgheri 07, Tuscany - I'm usually not the biggest fan, but this vintage was much better balanced than previous, nearly all of which were too extracted. The only impressive Tuscan wine from the 07 vintage.
Palari Faro 08, Sicily - a blend of various nerello varietals, mainly mascalese and cappuccio, from the northeastern part of the island around the town of Messina. All nerello imported into the U.S. seems to be of high quality, including Terre Nere, Passopisciaro, and Cottanera, but this is still the benchmark. Italy's answer to great Burgundy.
Nino Negri Valtellina Sfurzat, 'Cinque Stelle' 07, Lombardia - much more depth and a wider range than the normale Sfurzat, and the Vigneto Fracia, both of which are outstanding.
St. Michele Appiano Sauvignon, 'Sanct Valentin' 09, Alto Adige - always a great QPR producer, and they make no bad wines. This is a fabulous example of Northern Italian sauvignon: super fragrant, refreshing acidity, balance between the fruit and the grassy notes. A little richer than most, but super fine, begging you to take another sip.
Planeta 'Cometa' 09, Sicily - 100% fiano from Sicily's largest producer. A big surprise, as this wine was much lighter than in past years, where the extraction made the wine nearly incompatible with food. A much paler color as well, and much better balanced. The representative mentioned a cooler and rainier season. I'm very curious to taste the wines from the next vintages and see if this is a trend.
Pelissero Barbaresco, 'Vanotu' 07, Piedmont - Slick, accessible now. The best nebbiolo at the tasting.
La Spinetta Barbaresco, 'Starderi' 07, Piedmont - thin, and showing nothing but oak at the moment. might improve, but the recent vintages were never this disjointed at release.
Pio Cesare Barolo, 'Ornato' 06, Piedmont - The normale bottling was much better. This wine tasted of a tree bark, without any interesting nebbiolo notes.
Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva, 'Rancia' 07, Fèlsina 'Fontalloro' 07, Tuscany - I've always liked Fèlsina for their ability to make a modern version of sangiovese, yet having the wine still taste and can be identified as sangiovese. Other wines in this group that I really enjoy: Fontodi 'Flaccianello della Pieve' and the Isole e Olena 'Cepparello.' Not so here. Tasted diluted.
Livio Felluga 'Terre Alte' 08, Friuli - a blend of friulano, pinot bianco, sauvignon. Not sure what has happened since I fell in love with the wines a few years ago. First, there seemed to be too much oak influence, now the wine is just flat. A shell of its former self as a benchmark northern Italian white.