VinNatur – fantastic #NaturalWine fair in the Italian countryside

About 40 minutes due east of Verona, past Soave, is the Villa da Porto “La Favorita”, or  simply Villa Favorita as it is more commonly called. Commissioned by Giovanni Battista in 1714, today the palace is predominantly a tourist attraction; for a few days in April, it is home to the VinNatur natural wine fair, Europe’s largest such fair.

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arriving at Villa Favorita – even though I arrived within 30 minutes of the opening time, there were already hundreds of people inside the building. Parking is great and there are courtesy shuttles running constantly.

Once inside Villa Favorita, it becomes clear right away that this is a very well-organized, and considerably well-attended event – i.e. many producers, tradespeople/media, and consumers; the event (incl. list of producers) spans 3 days.

As this was my first time visiting both VinNatur and Villa Favorita, I did not have a game plan as I usually do for other fairs; I will have one for next year though.

VinNatur is an association of like-minded #naturalwinegrowers that practice non-interventionist winemaking, and pesticide/chemical free winegrowing.

Natural winegrowing has become something of a divisive issue in the past years, with many aligned in one camp vs the other. It’s a bunch of hogwash. Taste the wines, decide for yourself if you like them, and that’s that. In other words, to say that one way or another is better is to miss the pointyou need to taste and decide for yourself vs. subscribing to an ideology and letting someone/something else decide for you. I encourage you to have a clean slate going into all things wine.

It was with this clean slate (if you will) that I set about visiting the dozens of (large) rooms, or salons as they may have been called at one point in time, on two different floors, that were the temporary home to more than 170 #naturalwinegrowers from several European countries.

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panoramic view from inside Villa Favorita – gives new meaning to ‘Large Rooms’.

 

After I’d checked in with the trade/media desk, I set about tasting; it was clear to me, after just a few minutes in the building, that this was an event that needed at least a full day to canvass – and I didn’t have a full day, though next year I will plan accordingly. Actually, it would be better for me if I had two days – there are a lot of producers here, each with several/many wines – but this event coincided with VinItaly (this year), and it looks like it will again (2018), which would make having two days to cover #VinNatur an impossibility for me – I have too many long-standing, annual appointments at VinItaly.

That said, here are some highlights and take-aways from this very well-organized and well-attended event; again, it’s unfortunate that I only had 3 /12 hours to visit.

  • In the sub-region of Oltrepò Pavese, a region within Lombardia is Azienda Agricola Martilde – I can recommend(+) their Barbera and Bonarda, and to a lesser extent, their Malvasia, though I was less enchanted with their Pinot Nero.
  • If you like sparkling wine, be sure to look for wines from Casa Caterina, in Lombardia, many different styles, I think there’s something for everyone
  • the Malvasia and dry Lambrusco from Quarticello are worth seeking out
  • Into Frappato? Don’t know Frappato? You need to look for some from Azienda Vinicola Biscaris from the Vittoria region of Sicily
  • Don’t care for added sulfites, but like your red wine, check out Tenuta Belvedere‘s Pinot Nero (Noir) and Bonarda, #naturalwinegrowing on 9 hectares in Lombardia’s sub-region of Oltrepò Pavese
  • The whites and reds from producer Carlo Tabarrini are exciting; just 1.7Ha, high-quality #naturalwinegrowing
  • The thoughtful (and #veganwine) wines (reds, whites) of Marco Merli, a producer in Umbria are certainly worth a look; the price to quality is a great value
  • If you like Barbera, then a producer that should be on your radar is Cascina Roera (their Nebbiolo wines are also quite good)
  • The Dolcetto and Barbera from Forti del Vento (Monferatto/Piemonte) are exciting, and excellent values
  • Any wine from Franco Terpin (but especially the whites) are absolutely worth looking for/finding
  • If you’re a fan of Sangiovese and/or Sagrantino, definitely look for the wines of Fongoli; great purity and focus, excellent values
  • The white wines of Az. Agr. Pierluigi Zampaglione, from the eastern part of the Avellino zone are flat out thrilling
  • the highly traditional #naturawines of Podere della Bruciata, based in Chiusi, are quite good, and likely to get better as this young project learns more about their land
  • Grignolino, Barbera and Ruché from #naturalwinegrower Cascina ‘Tavijn are crazy good values, well worth your time to find them
  • Davide Bentivenga’s Etnella wines are exciting, and a part of my own cellar – look for them
  • Red and white wines from Camillo Donati that come to us from Emilia-Romagna are exceptional values; these really speak of place and grape
  • Organically grown red and white wines from Il Farneto, in Emilia-Romagna are exceptionally good, and the prices make them more so
  • Barbaresco and Barolo wines from Roagna Az. I Paglieri are/have already become legendary in the #naturalwinegrowing world – get some now, they disappear quickly
  • #Veganwine from Az. Agr. Giovanni Iannucci, in Campania is worth looking for
  • The exciting wines of Marco de Bartoli should be on every collector’s list
  • The #naturalwines of Frank Cornelissen are well worth a try, some can be dazzling
  • Exciting Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Super Tuscan from the rock-clay-limestone soils at Castello Poggiarello, in Tuscany, are excellent values, and very well-grown wines
  • The Chianti Classico #naturalwines from Az. Agr. Il Palagio make for fun weeknight table wine
  • Montepulciano (region, not grape) #naturalwinegrower Tenuta Terraviva makes some under-the-radar wines that are pure, fun, and tremendous values
  • A personal favorite, the brilliant (red) #naturalwines of Daniele Coutandin are thrilling

I only wish I’d had more time this day, lots of great people, growing a lot of really terrific #naturalwine.

Some pictures, highlights (if I took a picture, it’s because it was easily recommended (R), as above:

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wow! all sorts of crazy, crazy good food here – they’ve thought of everything!

 

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honest folks, honest #naturalwines

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one of the great things about this venue, is there’s always somewhere to relax – the palace is surrounded on all sides by great views and agriculture – love it!

 

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shuttle service from the parking lots ~ every 10 minutes

(header photo: the official artwork for the Vinnatur2017 campaign)

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