Ian D'Agata - one of the world's most influential wine critics, the sparkling pen of wine journalism and scientific consultant for Vinitaly - explains in an interview the new initiative to be hosted within the scope of the Wine2Wine Exhibition: an absolutely unprecedented event under the Veronafiere banner.
"As the Vinitaly teams explains, the event scheduled in Verona next 22-24 November combines physical attendance by with digital connections. It will be a unique, unprecedented occasion - precisely because it is the outcome of a totally unexpected year characterised - at least in the first half - by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because, alongside the Wine2Wine Forum - the in-depth analysis of the wine business first held in 2014 - the sector this year clearly expressed the need for an event celebrating wine. Vinitaly is by now a world renowned brand which, through its own know-how, enables Veronafiere to expand a system of offerings for the world of wine that simply has to be global." Three large exhibition halls will host exhibiting companies in identical stands, with a prevalence of Italian companies yet also a good number of international names. Furthermore, wine bars will also be set and guided tastings organised during the event."
One of the major innovations concerns MicroMegaWines International. What is it?
“MicroMegaWines International is a venue for very small companies (as well as larger enterprises) - this time international - producing very high quality wines on a small scale from international grape varieties as well as others unknown to most people, and even all but extinct, grown in a couple of vineyards. Wine interpreted through small production volumes of exceptional quality. While some very large companies dedicate part of their production to small batches of special wines, many other companies are truly small and perhaps otherwise unlikely to attend Vinitaly. MicroMegaWines would have been one of the new entries at Vinitaly 2020 before the show was unfortunately postponed because of Covid. So, we will put it forward during the W2W Exhibition but with an international flavour. The 'Italian' MicroMega Wines event will then be held at the next Vinitaly!"
How many companies will take part in the debut of MicroMegaWines?
“There will be no more than 25 companies - not only from Italy but also from Portugal, Greece, the United States, Spain and France. We live in a highly globalised world. International companies at Vinitaly by now account for around 15% of exhibitors, while Veronafiere itself is an international platform for Italian wine and much more. The presence of important wines from all over the world celebrates and even elevates Italian wine."
Will Chinese companies also take part in MicroMegaWines International during the W2W Exhibition?
“It is highly likely and I'm working to attract a Chinese company. It would be a fine result for Asian wine."
To what extent has Chinese wine improved in terms of quality?
“Considerably. Thirty years ago, Chinese products were considered to be of poor quality and China was merely identified as home to low-cost output. This is no longer the case today. In the future, Chinese wine will rank among the finest in the world. Personally speaking, I love China: my hero when I was young - over above Julius Caesar - was Marco Polo and as a student, in Canada, half of my classmates were of Chinese origin."
Tastings will be one of the cornerstones of the W2W Exhibition. Can you tell us more?
“Tastings are very important occasions for direct contact with wine. I would prefer not to give away too much advance news to avoid spoiling the surprise effect - but I can say that our guests will include Panos Kakaviatos, a critic who writes for Decanter and The World of Fine Wines, and Charles Metcalfe, perhaps the most important expert of Portuguese wine boasting a career in the world of wine going back more than 40 years as editor of many magazines and chief judge of major competitions. We are highly delighted to welcome him to Verona and since he usually does not attend, having him here is quite a scoop for us."
Will 2020 be a vintage for collectors?
“Yes, I would say so. It should be a good year, at least as far as things stood in early July. As you know, a great deal will depend on August and September. This ancient adage holds true for grapes: August makes the must - and I would also add that harvest timing is also very important. If it rains every day, this would change the situation, yet so far it has been a promising year and was quite cool in June. The wines of this vintage could well be truly elegant and refined."
It will undoubtedly be the vintage that experienced the Coronavirus lockdown in many areas of the world in spring. Would it be worth developing a special label?
“Absolutely yes, although I do realise that this could involve bad memories. Covid-19 is one of the worst tragedies to affect humanity, an unjust and alienating disease which not only makes you very ill but can also be lethal, as well as keeping your loved ones at a distance. Our generation has never seen anything like this and, in my opinion, we should recall the entire course of the Covid pandemic - from the beginning to the hopefully soon end - perhaps even thanks to a wine label. Not the least because people who forget are condemned to making the same mistakes again and again."