Vinitaly is the state fair for kids who grew into wine lovers. Substitute the fun rides, the candy and sodas for wine, wine, wine and you're in a tasters' paradise. It's Italy's largest annual wine show. Every April, producers--large and small, cooperatives and consortiums--promote their wares at the showgrounds of Verona.
At this year's Vinitaly, many familiar names presented new releases. From the Veneto region came the delightful soave of Roberto Anselmi (available elsewhere on the East Coast, but not yet in Washington) and the bardolino and amarone of Guerrieri-Rizzardi (at Mayflower Wines and Spirits). From the Campania in the south, Antonio Mastroberardino, producer of the long-living Taurasi red, offered excellent whites too. The '81 Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio is light and dry; the '82 Greco di Tufo, just bottled and still showing high acidity, with sparkling golden color and almonds in the nose, will age well; and the more expensive '82 Fiano di Avellino, with a bouquet of hazelnuts, is a full, firm wine, to mature happily for 10 or more years. The new wines will be available later this year.
Lungarotti, synonymous with quality in Umbria, showed his '82 Chardonnay from the village of Miralduolo, near Torgiano. Unlike the '81, which accidentally included a little traminer, this is all chardonnay and first-rate. The '80 Riserva, Torre di Giano, a dry, medium-bodied white from local varieties, had a month of oak aging to give it a fuller flavor than the regular Torre di Giano. It will be here later this summer, at $6.50. In addition to the much-appreciated Rubesco, there'll be a new Lungarotti red. The '77 San Giorgio is a non-DOC blend of traditional sangiovese and cannaiolo grapes and cabernet sauvignon. The combination produces a wine for long aging, rich in fruit and tannin, yet one that can be approached within a year or so. Lungarotti's wines are widely available here.
Spumante: For the first time, Italians are drinking more of their own spumante (sparkling) wines than those of Champagne itself. Twelve producers have formed the Istituto Spumante Classico Italiano to further their cause. Members may use grapes only of the pinot family and chardonnay, mostly grown in the zones of Franciacorta in Lombardy, the Oltropo Pavese north of Milan, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Serralunga in the Piedmont. And the wines must be made in the traditional champagne method, with a minimum of 18 months on yeasts for non-vintage and 24 months for vintage. Most labels show the bottling date, rather than the vintage, as a guide to maturity. Look for the institute's seal and the words "metodo champenois."
From the Woods: The Ca' del Bosco in the Franciacorta is one of the 12 Spumante Classico members. Meaning "house in the woods," it was exactly that until 10 years ago. The woods are now immaculate rows of high-trellised vines and the house is a modern winery. In 1972, Maurizio Zanella, then only 17, spent a year in Champagne and came back to spend his family's money in developing comparable wines in Italy. With a cellar that looks and feels champenois, and with an ex-employe of a famous champagne house doing the remuage, the family has made a sound investment. The spumante is available at Mayflower for $13.