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Wine and more at the Salone del Gusto 2008


Italy - 11 Jul 08

Since 1996, the Salone del Gusto has been a key event for those seeking to discover, explore and better understand the world of food and wine. This year’s seventh edition will host a series of meetings not to be missed for wine lovers, and much more besides: rum, saké and vodka are just some of the drinks featured at the over 100 Taste Workshops in the Salone program.
A novelty in 2008 will be the Taste Workshops devised, organized and led by the very first graduates of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and Colorno. After the three-year graduate course, with its varied study program and Italian and international study trips, the students are fully equipped to oversee taste education sessions at the Salone.
For the first time visitor to the Salone will have a chance to delve into the heritage of Italian wine which has been fostered inside the vast nineteenth-century wine cellar at the Agenzia di Pollenzo (Cuneo), thanks to a number of Taste Workshops staged by the Banca del Vino, whose principal aim is to store great wines and sell them only when they have reached optimal aging.
In addition, the Salone del Gusto will dedicate a space in Pavilion 5 to natural wines. This, the Vignerons d’Europe room, is reserved solely for the tasting of wines made by producers who cultivate their vines respecting the natural fertility of the soil and the equilibrium of ecosystems. (The first meeting of European vignerons, organized by Slow Food with the support of the Languedoc and Roussillon Regional Authority and the Metropolitan Area of Montpellier, took place in April 2007 in Montpellier, France).

What follows is a selection of the more unusual and interesting Taste Workshops at the Salone. The complete program of tastings, meetings, lectures and educational initiatives is available online at www.salonedelgusto.com.

Thursday October 23, 3pm
Gonin Musume’s natural saké
Just outside Tokyo, Terada Honke produces saké using ancient methods which date back over three centuries. In this Taste Workshop you will taste this small Japanese factory’s cutting edge Gonin Musume range: 100% natural sakes made with organic rice from company fields cultivated according to a rotation system that allows the soil to rest for 18 years, fermented with groundwater from the Tone river and native yeasts. No herbicides, no additives no preservatives. These are details that make the drink—a traditional natural medicine—harmonious with the forces of life. Terada Honke sakés leave a lightly bitter, yet at the same time fruity aftertaste, neither too sweet nor dry. They go well with traditional foods such as tofu with miso, marinated hijiki algae and cheese and vegetables preserved in sake must.

Thursday October 23, 3pm

From red flag to tricolor
By embracing western fashions and customs over the past 20 years, the former Soviet Union has changed profoundly. The cultural upheaval underway since the 1980s has also affected the world of vodka. Labels previously unknown in the West have come to the fore and the new Premium and Super Premium categories have been created. Here you’ll sample the nouvelle vague of Russian and Ukranian Vodka. Nemiroff honey pepper, in which infused honey and wild herbs create a delicately spicy aroma which rounds off the heat from the chili; Russkiy Razmer, fermented with water from the Lomonosov artisan well in the northwest and filtered through quartz sand; Russkij Standard, a leader in the basic product segment; Beluga Gold Line, an ultra premium vodka, the new status symbol in Russia, distilled three times with pure water from Siberian rivers and left to age for a year; Veda (Veduga in Italy), a vodka from St Petersburg launched in 2003 in the premium segment by one of the major Russian distilleries. Accompanying the vodka tastings will be freshly fished Cites-certified Iranian caviar from Longino & Cardenal (Cites is an international trade agreement for wild flora and fauna, www.cites.org).

Thursday October 23, 6pm

The Inoxidizables
In the wake of the success of the first edition of Vignerons d’Europe, this year the Salone del Gusto will feature Taste Workshops dedicated to wine producers and wines made from grapes grown in vineyards that respect the soil and natural life cycles. On the first day, one will be devoted to ‘The Inoxidizables’, personality-packed wines that improve with age and oxidize in barrels for at least six years. Long on the palate, generous and never short of oxygen, six of them will be up for tasting, hence comparison: from France, Vin Jaune 1979 Domaine De la Pinte and Rancio Sec La Preceptorie-Rectorie (Slow Food Presidium from Roussillon); from Jerez in Spain, the home of sherry, Pata de Gallina di Lustau, the handiwork of small almacenistas; from Sardinia, the Malvasia di Bosa of Battista and Lina Columbu and Vernaccia di Oristano Antico Gregori Contini; from Trapani, Marsala 1986 De Bartoli; and, last but not least, from Tuscany, Vin Santo Castello di Cacchiano.

Thursday 23 October, 6pm
Chill out
Icewine, Eiswein or Vin de Glace? Icewines are made from frozen grapes left on vines longer than normal and harvested when the temperature falls between -7° and -10° for a few days. The wine-pressing produces a grape juice rich in mineral salts, sugars and acidity, with slow fermentation. Guided by Maria Luisa Alberico, head of the International Icewines Academy, here you will taste: Alfred Fischer’s Eiswein Grüner Veltliner 2005 from Austria and Icewine Cabernet Franc 100% 2006 by Inniskillin Wines Ic. From Canada. From Italy, Solenne 2004 Moscato Bianco by Cascina Baricchi, Emozioni di ghiaccio 2004 Malvasia di Candia and Moscato Bianco by Azienda Vinicola Croci, Vino del Ghiaccio di Chiomonte 2007 Avanà, Becouet, Chatus and Neretta Cuneese di S. Sebastiano. To conclude, grappa Eigo Vitto, San Sebastiano Vino del Ghiaccio di Chiomonte, a rare example of a spirit made from frozen marc.

Thursday October 23, 9pm
Rum business
For the first time at the Salone del Gusto, the new graduates from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and Colorno will put their gastronomic knowledge– acquired from lessons and field seminars in Italy and abroad – to the test in a series of Taste Workshops. One in particular will look at spirits distilled from cane sugar in Neapolitan confectionery. Here you will taste six rare rhums agricoles, both white and aged. Selected by Velier di Genova, these rums come from the French Antilles and Cayenne: J. Bally Blanc, Neisson Blanc and Neisson Vieux from Martinique; Bielle Blanc from Marie Galante; La Cayennaise Vieux from Cayenne; and Damoiseau 1980 from Guadeloupe. The rums will be accompanied by the scrumptious Neapolitan cake, babà.

Friday October 24, 12pm
The Flintstones
Mineral, minerally, minerality — words that appear frequently in wine-tasting descriptions, often misused. In reality very few grape varietals and wine-producing zones give wines the aroma of flinty stone or silica after proper aging. This discussion of what makes a wine \'minerally\' will be based on a tasting of five wines from the 2001-1006 vintages: Calvarino Pieropan Soave Classico from Veneto; Falkenstein Pinot Bianco from Val Venosta; Clemens-Busch Mosel Riesling from Germany; Vouvray Huet from the Loire and Grüner Veltliner Schloss Gobelsburg from Kamptal in Austria.

Friday 24 October, 6pm
A splash in the Med
A tour of the Mediterranean and the fragrances and flavors of fruits, herbs and seeds used to distil liqueurs and spirits. Arak from Château Musar, in Lebanon, aged for five to ten years in Phoenician amphorae; Ouzo from Barbayanni, a dry liquor from the island of Lesbos, Greece; Pastizzu from Mannarini, Corsica; the hierbas ibicencas of Marí Mayans, distilled from the extracts of 18 different herbs in Ibiza; Varnelli aniseed liqueur from Muccia in the Marche region of Italy; Boukha, made from figs, from Tunisia; Raki, an aniseed-flavored drink from Turkey. The tasting is led by Luca Gargano of Velier, Genoa.

Friday 24 October, 9pm

A cult vintage: 1996 Barolo
The Taste Workshops staged by the Banca del Vino are not to be missed. These tastings will provide a journey back in time through the wine heritage stored at the bank’s cellar at Pollenzo (Cuneo). One that everyone is looking forward to is devoted to 1996 Barolo, a cult vintage. Certain vintages have a special aura about them, and 1996 is one such. Seven Barolos from different communes and crus — Massolino Vigna Rionda Riserva, Cavallotto Vigna San Giuseppe, Giovanni Manzone Gramolere, Poderi Marcarini Brunate, Brezza Cannubbi, Cogno Ravera and Castello di Verduno Vigna Massara Riserva — permit an evaluation of the year\'s greatness.

Friday 24 October, 9pm

Très Joly
Perched on a Loire hillside, Coulée de Serrant is one of the most beautiful vineyards in the world. The wine made here by Nicolas Joly is a unique AOC. In the workshop, Joly, a biodynamics guru and founder of the Renaissance des Appellations group of producers, will take you on an extraordinary vertical tasting of his wines from 1988, 1994, 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2005. La vigna, il vino e la biodinamica, the Italian translation of his book Biodynamic Wine Demystified, was recently published by Slow Food Editore.

Saturday 25 October, 3pm
Sauvignon blanc, the next step
To date you\'ve only seen one side of New Zealand Sauvignons: affordable, easily identifiable, quaffable, hence popular. Here we reveal the other: lengthy macerations, plenty of wood and indigenous yeasts to add complexity to a French varietal whose home from home is New Zealand. In the workshop kiwi wine enthusiast Jeffrey Chilcott guides you through a tasting of six examples of the nouvelle vague of New Zealand winemaking, including Neudorf, Clos Henry and Dog Point Section 94.

Saturday 25 October, 6pm
The Greek wine renaissance
Over the last 25 years Greece has made great efforts to develop the quality of its wine. Thanks to modern technology and competent enologists, the country is now progressively making up for lost time. This workshop will tll the story of a country with 300 native grape varieties through the wines of some of its most distinguished producers: from the aged red of Domaine Gaia, produced in the area of Koutsi from agiorgitiko grapes to the full-bodied, complex wines of Thimionpoulos, in the Naoussa DOC region, west of Thessaloniki; from the wines of Antonopoulos, in the northwestern Peloponnese, from grapes grown in sandy, clayey soil to those of Lyrarakis, on Crete and Gentilini, made by the Cosmetatos family in Cefalonia.

Saturday October 25, 9pm
The new face of Tokaji Aszu
The style of the legendary Tokaji Aszu, the first wine in the world to be made with withered grapes, has sparked much debate in Hungary. Innovative and traditional producers have clashed over whether to adopt new techniques (macerations, lower yields, sulfur dioxide) or save classic ones. Even after drinking the new wines — from Diznoko 1993 to Royal Tokaji 1999 — the arguments continue. In this workshop you will taste the aszu wines from Disznoko, Patricius, Oremus, Chateau Pajzos and S.Tinon that have brought about the ‘Tokaj Renaissance’. The fact is that a great Aszu is, above all, the product of quality grapes.

Sunday October 26, 12 noon
Champagne vignerons and terroir
The Vignerons d’Europe dedicate a whole workshop to the star of French enology. A journey through Champagne\'s different terroirs accompanied by six vignerons: Bereche et Fils and François Secondé from Montagne de Reims, Tarlant from Vallée de la Marne, Chartogne-Taillet from Massif de Saint-Thierry, Laherte Frères from Coteaux Sud d\'Epernay and Claude Cazals from Côte des Blancs. Here you\'ll taste their dosage zero, considered the purest expression of Champagne terroirs insofar as no liqueur de expedition is added after disgorgement.

Sunday October 26, 12 noon
Jackson\'s Five: a homage to the maestro
One of the greatest personalities the world of beer has ever known, Michael Jackson sadly passed away a little more than a year ago. This workshop is a tribute to a writer whose words were as refined as his taste for malt and hops, and whose books are true bibles for all beer and whisky connoisseurs. Discover five continents through a tasting of his five favorite beers: Gulder Lager from Nigeria, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from the USA, Lion stout from Sri Lanka, Rodenbach grand cru from Belgium and Cooper’s sparkling ale from Australia.

Sunday October 26, 3pm
Georgia on my mind
Winemaking was born in Georgia some 8,000 years ago. The country boasts 500 vineyards planted with native grapes, as well as an ancient production method — involving vinification inside amphorae buried in the ground and minimal human intervention — to which many European winemakers are now returning. Soliko Tasishvili, Prince Makashvili\'s enologist, will lead this tasting of wines made from rkatziteli grapes by six organic producers in the Kakheti region. These producers form the core group for a Presidium project, which will come into being only after the next grape harvest.