Sicilia En Primeur: Celebrating 25 Years of Assovini Sicilia’s Unified Vision for Sicilian Producers – Filippo Magnani

May 9th and 10th, the Sicilian wine community achieved a new milestone in Cefalù, Sicily with over 100 wine journalists and 59 wineries who convened to explore and evaluate over 300 labels, participate in five masterclasses, and embark on ten curated wine tours.

For over 25 years Sicilia En Primeur has been celebrating the evolution of a diverse wine region on the Mediterranean’s largest island – Its history, culture, traditions and food are as rich as they are diverse.

Some History
Assovini Sicilia was founded 25 years ago by Diego Planeta, Lucio Tasca d’Almerita and Giacomo Rallo who launched an association and has since grown in membership and international success due to their visionary and collaborative approach. The theme of this year’s event was “ Cultivating The Future” which focused on the evolution of Sicilian wine, its cultural value, wine tourism, and future prospects, with participation from journalists, producers, and industry representatives. Mariangela Cambria, President of Assovini Sicilia, emphasized how the association has promoted a contemporary and dynamic image of Sicily, making it a brand of significant cultural value and international appeal. The association’s success is based on innovation and adaptability, integrating new generations into company management roles and focusing on sustainability and wine tourism. Particular emphasis was on the role of the new generation of wine production in Sicily and illustrated with the poignant video entitled “Next Generation”.

The event was moderated by the prestigious journalist Gioacchino Bonsignore (TG5 Mediaset) and featured presentations from an all-star cast such as the one of Monica Larner, Italian reviewer, Robert Parker Wine Advocate who presented the Trends and Perception of Sicilian Wine in the US Market; a glance at the Past to Imagine the Future in the vineyard by Alessio Planeta, CEO Planeta winery; The Story of a Thriving Partnership by Antonio Rallo, President of the Consortium for the Protection of Sicilia DOC; The New Frontiers of Green and the Experience of the SOStain Sicilia Foundation with Alberto Tasca, President of the SOStain Sicilia Foundation and even more including the ambassador of Sicilian culture Regoli, Director of WineNews.

In addition to the conference, Sicilia En Primeur organized their yearly wine tours of the territory which gives participants a chance to delve deeper into the multitude of Sicily’s wine zones, discovering their evolution and the new frontiers of each area. I have had the chance to explore the central-southern part of the island. So, along with the prominent Nero d’Avola, the identity of Sicily in red in different versions (rosé, sparkling, fruity and light or more structured reds); there were also the whites especially Catarratto in which many producers of the area specifically believe in for the production of wonderful Classic Method Sparkling wine especially at high altitude; I could taste different versions of my beloved Frappato with its versatility and captivating juicy character also able to produce rosé, delicious bubbles or it is blended with the generally more concentrated Nero d’Avola for a perfect balance.

Campania Stories 2024 – A Memorable Experience

Campania Stories, one of the most significant wine events in southern Italy, took place this year in Sannio on the northern edge of Campania from May 21st to 25th. The 12th edition welcomed wine writers and other trade professionals.

This year was an incredible success with over 90 wineries who submitted their samples to a wide audience of international bloggers, journalists and wine critics. The setting could not be more beautiful as the event consists of a journey through the main wine areas of a region known by visitors for the beautiful Amalfi Coast and the vibrant city of Naples.

Sannio just north of the Naples, the town of Dugenta hosted the event at the luxury resort, Tenute del Gheppio. Producers had the opportunity to present their latest white wines along with their Riservas. Presentation of the 2023 vintage was led by Francesco Martusciello, one of the flying winemakers of the region, at Rocca dei Rettori di Benevento, in cooperation with Assoenologi. Francesco Martusciello emphasized the 2023 vintage trend which was an uneven year with limited production but of very high quality. The whites were a perfect example with their predominant fermentative aromas that will certainly dissipate with time to show the true character of the grape.

We also enjoyed an in-depth journey through Campania to see producers in their element visiting estates in Sannio and Irpinia where they discovered the landscapes of smooth hills, mainly of clay, with expansive vineyards divided by the main rivers of Calore in Irpinia, and Volturno in North Sannio. These visits were made possible in part by the close collaboration of Miriade & Partners headed by Diana Cataldo, Massimo Iannaccone and Serena Valerian.

This is an area known for is great viticulture, since the Roman times when it was known as Campania Felix. A place where Roman heritage is still evident with the discovery of several amphoras and tools for winemaking, but also marked by incredible buildings dating back the 18th century, such as the majestic Carolino aqueduct that dominates the valley as a Unesco Heritage site.

This beautiful corner of Campania shows history, art and culture that are only discovered by venturing off the beaten path, such as Vigna del Ventaglio near Caserta in San Leucio, another UNESCO World Heritage site. The place was already known in the past for high quality silk production, when the Bourbon King Ferdinando IV selected a vineyard in the shape of a fan and divided it into nine sectors, each cultivated with unique grape varieties he loved the most, like Piedimonte Rosso and Bianco, Procopio, Delfino Bianco and Siracusa Rosso, parental vines of the modern ones.

Modern winemaking equipment has been introduced in Campania. For instance, prominent estates have been using high -ech crushing machines and tanks with cooling jackets, and at the same time the wine estate are preserving certain traditional winemaking techniques like the use of amphoras where local grapes such as Greco, Fiano and also Coda di Volpe perform well.

The two-day tasting was a true pleasure for me, with sparkling, whites, reds and rosè from all over Campania, over 200 samples from 90 producers. I focused mostly on the sparkling wines which are showing interesting improvements. While at the beginning, most sparkling wine from Campania was Charmat method from some of the semi-aromatic grapes of the region, mainly Falanghina, but now several traditional method wines are becoming more and more popular with large improvements in terms of quality.

This was definitely a roadshow of the best expression of Campania viticulture and landscape. For a full immersion in this promising growing region, Campania Stories is wine not to be missed. And now I can only wait for the 2025 edition, which will be hosted by the Volcano Vesuvio.

Filippo Magnani

North America’s Six Top Wine Regions for a Cycling Getaway

For wine lovers who love the outdoors, combining the enjoyment of wine tasting with leisurely cycling through some of North America’s most picturesque vineyard regions offers a unique and wonderful experience.

Wine regions like Napa Valley, the Finger Lakes, and Niagara are not only renowned for their exquisite wines, but they also feature some of the most bicycle-friendly routes and amenities.

Here is a guide that takes you through these areas, promising lots of adventure, indulgence, and an appreciation of these wonderful wine regions: https://shorturl.at/zL08Z

The 10 Most Expensive Wines in the World

Few things in the world improve in quality and value with age. Aged wine is one of those things, defined by elegance, rarity and finesse. If you are drawn to the thrill of owning something truly one of a kind, this niche market will certainly appeal to you.

We’ve all heard the expression “aging like a fine wine,” so you may not be surprised to learn seven of the 10 most expensive wines in the world are from 1947 or earlier. That includes three bottles that date back to the 18th century. No need to check the “best before” date.

Rank Wine Year Country Price
1 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1945 France $558,000
2 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 United States $500,000
3 Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 France $310,700
4 Cheval Blanc 1947 France $304,375
5 Château Lafite 1869 France $230,000
6 Château Margaux 1787 France $225,000
7 Ampoule from Penfolds, Block-42 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Australia $168,000
8 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1787 France $156,450
9 Henri Jayer, Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1999 France $136,955
10 Massandra Sherry de la Frontera 1775 Spain $43,500

France leads the way for luxury wines
What conclusions can we draw from the list? We all already knew that they like their wine in France, so the fact they produce the most expensive wines around won’t come as a huge shock.

Seven of the top ten most expensive wines ever sold hail from France, although special mention must go to the United States’ own Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, made in Napa Valley in 1992. Only 175 cases were produced at a time when Screaming Eagle Cabernet hadn’t yet established itself as a premium wine producer.

Results are in for London Wine Fair’s “Judgement of London”

London Wine Fair’s Judgement of London took place this week, and the results are now in. 32 wines were tasted over a period of four hours by 21 judges, a selection of the UK’s best palates, two-thirds of which were either Masters of Wine or Master Sommeliers. The wines, all of which were decanted and served in Jancis Robinson X Richard Brendon glasses, were tasted in pairs under exam conditions: eight pairs of white wines, followed by eight pairs of red wines; each pairing comprised a European wine with their Rest of World counterpart, matched in terms of style. The judges scored each wine out of ten, which resulted in a grand total for each wine, and a final overall score for European vs. Rest of World.

The wines, amongst the best in the world, were selected by Sarah Abbott MW, MD of Swirl Wine Group and Ronan Sayburn MS, CEO of The Court of Master Sommeliers, who presented the results on Centre Stage with Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair earlier today (Tuesday afternoon). The key findings are as follows:

Top scoring white: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
Runner up: Polish Hill Riesling, Grosset, Clare Valley, Australia 2012
Top scoring red: Hermitage Rouge, Jean Louis Chave, Rhône, France, 2012
Runner up: Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2009
Top scoring wine: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
European wines: 2,621.5 points
Rest of World: 2,604.5 points
Overall winner: Europe
Difference: 0.65%

The purpose of Judgement of London was to give a snapshot of the fine wine landscape almost 50 years on from the original Judgement of Paris in 1976. Whilst California was the outright winner of the original Paris tasting, in 2024 –with a broader spectrum of wines to better reflect today’s fine wine scene – the results are almost too close to call, with less than a percentage point between the two “teams”.

Sarah Abbott MW commented: “The results from Judgement of London highlight that great wine can and does come from all corners of the world. Winemakers of these wines share so much in common, and the excitement and gratitude that these wines inspire unites and inspires us as a trade.”

Ronan Sayburn MS commented: “From the beginning, it was never about a winner or loser, and the results show that. 50 years ago, there was a definite difference in style; now it is a much more level playing field. The so-called New World were making wines which were for a cool climate style, but in a warm climate. And obviously they had a lot of success, but were they elegant? Since Judgement of Paris, the so-called New World has better adapted to their climates, clones, and what works well. It is no longer the underdog. All these wines tasted on their own are amongst the greatest in the world, and we were asking our judges to choose amongst them.”

Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey, commented: “The results could barely have been closer, and whilst that all points towards the equal footing of European and Rest of World wines in today’s fine wine market, it is also testament to the pairings selected by Ronan and Sarah. They were bang on in terms of matching. I would like to personally thank everyone involved in what was frankly a Herculean task; sourcing 32 of the world’s finest wines; Ronan and Sarah for their brilliant selections and management; and last but by no means least, the judges themselves, and their extraordinary palates.”

The full list of wines: https://shorturl.at/biZTy