Vinitaly 09 Sideways by Loris Scagliarini
This is the last report from our own sideways. WineCountry.IT, LLC stopped importing wine to the United States in 2010. The company ceased operation in 2014 and was finally dissolved on December 2015.
I've been back from Italy barely three weeks and here I am again, at the international gates of SFO, or the San Francisco airport, waiting to board the red eye to Munich, Germany, and from there to Bologna, Italy, for the 43rd Vinitaly trade show, the largest wine show in the world, which started back in the 1960's.
Driving on 19th avenue toward the Park SFO parking facility in South San Francisco, after the usual full day of work, I think that I am not so happy to fly twice to Europe in a month. I did last year as well, when I participated in the first Monte Carlo Wine Festival in February, then returned to Italy at the end of March for the 42nd Vinitaly.
Since I was in Arezzo, Tuscany, for the second Arezzo Wine event a month ago, I had made up my mind not to repeat last year's experience. Instead, I had to change my mind at the last minute and grab one of four seats left on a Lufthansa flight to Munich with a reasonable connection to Bologna.
The Park SFO experience is pleasant as usual. I walk to the pickup hub and an empty bus pulls up giving me a solo ride to the airport. I guess this is another sign of the times. This is the first time ever that I have been alone on one of these mini busses. I zoom through check in and customs and sit down at the Caffé del Mondo (Cafe of the World, in Italian), as usual. At this time they are advertising 20 wines by the glass, so I decide to give it a try and order a glass.
The Spanish-speaking person behind the counter accompanied by Italian musica leggera (literally, light music), answers "Any wine", to my question: "Which wine do you serve by the glass?"
"Do you have a list?" I ask.
He points me to a sheet under plastic, which I read carefully then order a Pinot Noir and he proceeds to serve me a Syrah, as I discover when I am settled at a table, laptop on, and take my first sip. I decide that complaining would probably lead to bickering and nothing more, so I rather enjoy the Syrah. I would suggest to the management of Il Fornaio (The Baker, in Italian) restaurants, of which the Caffé del Mondo is part, to train its staff not to play smart with customers.
In Munich I go through customs and security then, as I walk to the gate where I am to board a flight to Bologna I start feeling dizzy and sweating abundantly and end up spending the best part of an hour in the lavatory, feeling sick to my stomach, vomiting the airplane food and consider asking for medical help. When my flight is called however, I barely manage to board the small Air Dolomiti plane that takes me to Bologna.
The same thing happened to Brigit last year in Amsterdam, and later, when talking, we wonder if the vegetarian meals that we usually ask for, are not consumed often enough and may sometimes go bad. We consider traveling with home-made sandwiches in the future.
When my friends Gastone and Enrico pick me up to drive to my mom's apartment in Castelfranco Emilia I feel somewhat better, though they say that I look awful. For dinner I have a cup of broth only, but at around 2am I awake and again feel dizzy, sick to my stomach, and my head spins wildly. I'm worried as the Vinitaly trade show opens in a little over 24 hours, and feeling as I do now, I would certainly not be able attend. Later in the morning my friend Rita, who in addition to being a wonderfully skilled painter and fresco artist is a nurse by trade, gives me an injection as she did with Brigit last year and, after a few hours' sleep I feel decidedly better. So much so that I get up, dress, and go to her house to check my e-mail.
Early morning Thursday, April 2, 2009, I board the train that takes me to Verona, where the Vinitaly trade show takes place. When I get there it's raining cats and dogs, and find our organization's Italian marketing manager, Cristo Lepori, waiting for me at the press accrediting desk. We check in and go to the press room to check our e-mails before heading to the fair halls and start meeting Italian wine producers. We spend the next two days meeting and interviewing several producers and, of course, tasting delightful wines from various Italian regions.
Among other noteworthy moments we take part in the Donna Sommelier (Woman Sommelier) magazine's Vigne d’Italia in Rosa (Italian Vineyards in Pink) award given, among others, to the owners of two estates associated with the Italian Flavor Consortium: Signora Mariele Galanti, owner of Tenuta Ca' Boffenisio, in the Lombardy region, and Signora Claudia Reggianini, owner of Fattoria Coliberto in Tuscany.
Thursday evening we are invited to dinner at the well-known Trattoria del Bersagliere by the organizer of Arezzo Wine trade show, Ms. Giada Codecasa, owner of the Ca' Nova winery in Piedmont. We spend the night at Villa Beatrice, a quiet B&B perched on the hills overlooking the city of Romeo and Juliet.
Friday, April 3, we are joined by Omar Bandi, a possible new associate who would like to transfer to the US to work with our organization and, at the end of the long day, Lepori boards a train to return to Rome, while I hitch a ride to Castelfranco Emilia with Omar.
It takes me forever to fall asleep and Saturday I awake mid morning with a spinning head and an upset stomach, which is very unfortunate as I have reserved lunch at the Trattoria La Lumira, arguably the best restaurant in town where I have a business meeting with Signor Guido Quadri and his associate, Signora Giuditta. I end up drinking just the broth from the tortellini entree, skip the main course and smell the Lambrusco wine that we order.
Later in the day we visit the acetaia (traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena factory) of my friend, Daniele Malagoli. As usual Daniele and his wife, Barbara, are welcoming and, after a visit to the attic where the over 800 various sized barrels hold the 'black gold, as the traditional balsamic vinegar is called around here, we sit around the wide, antique wooden table in the living room and taste the 7-, 14-, and over 20-year-old balsamic vinegars.
Later still, journalist Miria Burani picks me up for a visit to Evotek Engineering s.r.l., an automotive design and research company located near the Ferrari car factory in Maranello. Evotek is a cutting edge company founded in 2001 by engineers and researchers who worked for many years at designing and building Ferrari cars. In addition to contracting with Ferrari, since its beginnings, Evotek has designed prototypes for Maserati and Porsche as well, plus it specialized in customizing competition super bikes, reconstructing gas tanks to hold as much gas as possible, while shaping them for the maximum comfort of the rider.
One of the latest Evotek creation is a special iPod holder, called iPod Touch 16 GB, which allows the user to slide the Apple device into position even in total darkness, without possibly missing the connection. The holder was created especially for Ferrari to be mounted on the new Scuderia Spider 16M, the latest vehicle produced by the Maranello car maker to celebrate the recent victory in the F1 constructor's World Championship 2008.
Evoteck has maintained the rights and is currently marketing the device to other car makers, cruise ships, airplane, and yacht builders among others. Another very interesting project at which the young company is currently working is a kit to electrify city cars, such as the very popular Smart car built by Mercedes-Benz.
After a good night's sleep, which has the effect of putting me finally back on my feet, I take it easy on Sunday, April 5, looking for old papers in Gastone and Rita's attic, where boxes of my books, music and various paraphernalia found a home a few year's back, when my mom moved to a new apartment which did not have extra storage space.
Mid afternoon on Sunday, my friend Enrico lends me a car and I drive to Bologna to visit with an old friend of mine, Antonella, who is three months pregnant with twins for the first time at 49. She and her partner, Roberto, are very happy and feel up to the challenge. There I also meet another old friend, Mara, with whom we reminisce about long gone afternoons at her house in the hills, when her husband, a very sweet man named Enrico as well, was still alive. By the time I drive back to Castelfranco Emilia it's past 10PM and Enrico and Donatella insist on offering me dinner, which Donatella makes in less than half hour from scratch.
Monday I run errands, do some shopping, and get my bags ready. Mid afternoon I start cooking for a few friends who will join me at my mom's for my last Italian dinner of this trip. I make trofie pasta with a vegetarian sauce, followed by sausage prepared in two ways: stewed with veggies and plain roasted. To round out the meal, there is a mixed green salad seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Modena, cold cuts including prosciutto, coppa and salame, plus my mom's fried lemon-flavored dough for dessert.
Different from usual, this time I am not due at the Guglielmo Marconi airport in Bologna until 10 minutes to 11am, so my brother picks me up mid morning for the ride. I board an Air Dolmiti plane to Munich and munch on pretzels washed down with a pleasant flute of sparkling Prosecco wine by Bisol. During the 11 and a half hour flight from Munich to San Francisco I eat a couple of sandwiches prepared at my mom's and take only drinks and a few safe items, such as the camembert cheese and a small chocolate Easter bunny from the tray served by the crew. The experience on the way over was so painful that I am extra careful and do not dare risk a repeat performance.
We land in San Francisco in perfect time and under a light rain. I take the small bus to the Park SFO long term parking lot, from where I retrieve my red PT Cruiser and drive home to my wife and cat under the rain which, by the time I make it home, has turned to a downpouring.
- Birthday Sideways – October 2005
- Italian Sideways 2006 – April 2006
- Partially Aborted Sideways – October 2006
- Lonesome European Sideways – March - April 2007
- European Sideways 2008 – February 2008
- Southwestern Sideways: A Quest for Western US Wine Not From California – October 2007
- Iowa Sideways: A Quest for Wine in the Midwest – November 2007
- Vinitaly Sideways 2008 – April 2008
- Birthday Sideways 2008: Lake Tahoe & Yosemite Park – October 2008
- Arezzo Wine Sideways 2009 – February - March 2009
- Vinitaly Sideways 2009 – April 2009