Italian Vintage Report 2009

I love keeping myself and all of you updated on the growing seasons throughout the world.  It not only gives us a clue to the quality of the upcoming wine vintage, but also a window to the world of wine.  My latest report comes from the Gaja Family Wine Estates, and their three properties in Italy: one in Piedmont and two in Tuscany.

The Gaja Family is very optimistic about this vintage, and have rated the harvest as good to excellent.  Here is more info on the weather conditions and harvest dates:

  • Piedmont: A very snowy winter kept the vines dormant, followed by rain in the spring and beginning of June.  This kept the soil moist, and helped it to recover it's balance from the drought of the past few years.  Summer was hot and sunny, giving the grapes much needed warmth and light.  September experienced some rain, and the harvest was warm and sunny.  Harvest lasted from September 2, beginning with Sauvignon Blanc, and lasted until October 9, with Nebbiolo from the Sori Tildin and Sperss vineyards.

  • Montalcino: Two phases of weather trends.  First, alot of rain in the spring with a cold May and June beginning.  Secondly, the temperatures rose, and additional rain in July swelled the Sangiovese grapes.  Dryness came and the heat continued.  The Sirocco wind rushed over the vineyard for about 10 days in August, keeping the grapes dry and cool.  Tramontana winds in September brought the grapes to a dry harvest, held from September 24 to October 10.

  • Bolgheri: Very rainy winter and early spring led to a hot, dry summer.  Harvest began on September 3 with Merlot.  Both Merlot and Syrah were completely harvested by September 18.  Five days of rain began followed by a northern wind, which helped dry the grapes.  This occurrence restored balance to the grapes after the hot, dry summer.  Harvest resumed with Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, and concluded on October 7.

Here is a general assessment from Angelo and Gaia Gaja:

"The quality of the grapes this vintage has been optimal.  Even though it's still too early to predict the quality of the wine they will produce, some are speculating that due to the top quality of the 2009 vintage in several European countries and in California, 2009 could be a repeat of the success of the 1990 vintage."

This bolds well for the world of wine, especially Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and Super Tuscans.  Now, while it will be over two years until we see most of these wines released, make sure to keep the 2009 vintage on your radar, as this is sure to offer some tasty wine.  I know I can't wait!

Chicago Gourmet Food Festival 2009

Chicago GourmetChicago Gourmet is on the way- a food and wine festival taking place on September 26 & 27 in Millenium Park.  This is just its second annual occurrence, and it will be a celebration of our city's culinary culture and history, highlighted by Chicago's best chefs and restaurants.  Also, hundreds of wines, local sommeliers, and wine experts will be onhand for tastings and seminars.

Many Chicago personalities like Mayor Daley will be in attendance, along with Chicago's favorite chefs: Rick Bayless (winner of Top Chef Masters) of Frontera Grill, Jose Garces of Mercat a la Planxa, John Coletta of Quartino, Dirk Flanigan of The Gage, Marcus Samuelsson of C-House, Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno, Stephanie Izard (Top Chef winner) of The Drunken Goat, and lots of other local greats.

Awesome food is not the only think on the menu, as wines from Robert Mondavi, Mionetto (one of my favorite sparkling wine producers), and Gaja Wines presented by Gaia Gaja, will be there for tasting, along with famed importer and producer, Anthony Terlato of Terlato Wines International, and his amazing portfolio featured at the Festival's largest tent.

Tickets can be purchased beforehand for $150 for a single day, or $250 for the two day weekend.  There are also upgrades for those who don't mind spending extra, such as Grand Cru tastings for $175 featuring some of the finest wines in the world presented by Master Sommeliers.  Here is a little hint to avoid the ticket price, which may be worth your while: Chicago Dine Around.  Starting now through September 27, if you dine at five different restaurants using their special prix-fixe menu, and attach each receipt to the Chicago Gourmet Dine Around Passport (available at all participating restaurants), you will be eligible for a free one day pass to the Festival.

Make sure to plan ahead and get in on Chicago's greatest food and wine event!