“Ne’ Lieti Calici” of 103 Italian Wines selected by Wine Spectator — OperaWine Celebrates Another Successful Edition

Organized annually by Wine Spectator, Veronafiere, and Vinitaly, OperaWine is Vinitaly’s grand overture, a celebration of Italian wines featuring over 100 Italian producers selected by the prestigious American publication. This year’s edition was held on Saturday, April 6, 2019, paying homage to the experience and dedication of 103 producers’ magnum opuses—their iconic wines representative of every region of Italy.

OperaWine 2019 - Group photo

Photograph: Italian wine producers at OperaWine 2019. Sitting in the first row left to right: Raffaele Boscaini (Masi Agricola); Wine Spectator Editors Alison Napjus and Bruce Sanderson; Stevie Kim (Vinitaly International); Thomas Matthews (Wine Spectator’s Executive Editor); Maurizio Danese (President of Veronafiere); Giovanni Mantovani (CEO of Veronafiere).

Verona, Italy (April 16 2019) OperaWine is Vinitaly’s opulent introduction which, every year, features 100 of Italy’s greatest producers selected by the American magazine Wine Spectator. OperaWine is the only annual tasting event supported by Wine Spectator that is held outside the United States. On the day before the opening of the Vinitaly expo, the OperaWine gala takes place in the heart of Verona, at the Palazzo della Gran Guardia. The one-day event is split into two defining components: the Press Conference in the morning and the Grand Tasting in the afternoon. This last edition of OperaWine featured 103 participating Italian producers.

OperaWine is a way for Vinitaly and Wine Spectator to actively support Italian wine producers. The event is a window into the Italian wine world and the exposition sheds light on producers’ work, dedication, and outstanding wines. Every year the theme for the visual campaign that accompanies the event is different: while two of the previous editions celebrated Italy’s fruitful commercial relations with China and the United States (the emerging and most important market respectively), OperaWine 2019 took inspiration from the Generative Art trend.

After the introductory remarks of Veronafiere’s President Maurizio Danese and CEO Giovanni Mantovani, Senior Editors Bruce Sanderson and Alison Napjus also addressed the public introducing a survey submitted to their readers. The survey, to which over 1400 people responded, was intended to find out more about general drinking habits and interest in Italian wine. Among others, some of the most interesting responses included: Brunello di Montalcino and Barolo as favorite Italian wines; Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio as preferred grape varieties; Tuscany and Sicily as “Italian regions to turn to for value wine.”

During the Press Conference, Wine Spectator executive editor Thomas Matthews introduced a video featuring interviews by Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto of several OperaWine producers. In these interviews, which were also broadcast on OperaWine’s social media channels, producers were asked to pair their label with an aria from an opera or pop song and a few of them improvised a small singalong. At the end of the video, Niccolò Mascheroni Stianti from Castello di Volpaia in Tuscany unleashed the greatest sympathetic applause for his singing performance of “Who wants to live forever” by The Queen. These interviews filled the room with joyous laughter before the opening of the Grand Tasting. They video is available at the following link: https://youtu.be/WMlpH5EWdMc.

The Press Conference put the wine producers in the lime-light but as the afternoon rolled in the focus shifted to their products. The Grand Tasting was dedicated to the celebrated pre-selected wines and was inaugurated by Michele Geraci, the Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, who presided at the ribbon cutting ceremony. This year, the OperaWine grand tasting welcomed around 1,600 invited guests from all over the world in addition to the 103 producers representing all 20 Italian regions. Along with several regulars, 15 new wineries made it through to selection for the first time. Among these, Bastianich from Friuli-Venezia Giulia presented its Venezia-Giulia Plus 2009. Joe Bastianich commented on his wine:

My wine, in a funny way, kind of speaks of me. So I always tell people that having a glass of white wine is like getting to know me a little bit better because especially these wines are very personal, they are a personal expression of my opinion and my view on wine so, my wine, if you drank a glass of it right now, it would say ‘Hi, my name is Joe, nice to meet you!’.

Gaja was among the OperaWine participants who returned for a fourth year in a row. Presenting its Barolo Sperss 2014, Giovanni Gaja commented that

Our mission is to be faithful to our tradition, to all the generations that were producing wine before us. I myself am the fifth generation of wine producers in my family. My mission would be to try and express our idea of what Nebbiolo should be and what its territory can express. A purpose for me would also be to always try and do the best we can with every single vintage, always try to preserve the quality and the best expression of what the land can offer.

Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International, commented on the success of OperaWine 2019:

Every year OperaWine seems to be increasingly more prestigious not only among participating producers but also among attendees. Even during the four days of the Vinitaly fair after the event, I often see producers still wearing the OperaWine lanyards and badges. I read this as a sign of their pride in being associated with the event and it is extremely rewarding for me and my team. In addition to OperaWine, I am grateful to Wine Spectator Senior Editors Bruce Sanderson and Alison Napjus for conducting several seminars during Vinitaly with the aim of extending their outreach to lesser known territories and producers. These small workshops prove to be an incredible advantage for Italian producers who may not have the opportunity of meeting them otherwise.

The exclusivity of the OperaWine 2019 exposition shined through yet again, highlighting once more the quality and the appeal of Italy’s oenological products.

Quality and diversity are two of our overarching goals when we compile the list – said Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator senior editor – but other factors come into play, such as regional leadership and historical significance.

OperaWine gives a special thanks to its sponsors, including Volkswagen Italia (Main Sponsor); Luxochain, Grana Padano, and Grissinbon.

For Wine Spectator’s coverage of OperaWine see: https://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/OperaWine-Sings-Loud-with-the-Diversity-of-Italian-Wine

For the OperaWine 2019 online catalogue see: https://issuu.com/vinitalyinternational/docs/catalogo_operawine_2019

Photographs from the Press Conference are available at the following link: https://vinitalyinternational.com/wordpress/photogallery-conference-2019/

Photographs from the OperaWine Grand Tasting can be found at the following link: https://vinitalyinternational.com/wordpress/photogallery-event-2019/


About Vinitaly
The grand Vinitaly 2020 will be held from April 19 to 22. Every year, Vinitaly counts more than 4,000 exhibitors on a 100,000+ square meter area and 130,000 visitors from over 140 different countries with more than 30,000 top international buyers. The premier event to Vinitaly, OperaWine “Finest Italian Wines: 100 Great Producers selected by Wine Spectator” which in 2020 will be held on April 18, one day prior to Vinitaly, will unite international wine professionals in the heart of Verona, offering them the unique opportunity to discover and taste the wines of the 100 Best Italian Producers, as selected by Wine Spectator. Since 1998 Vinitaly International travels to several countries such as Russia, China, USA and Hong Kong thanks to its strategic arm abroad, Vinitaly International. In February 2014 Vinitaly International launched an educational project, the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) with the aim of divulging and broadcasting the excellence and diversity of Italian wine around the globe. VIA this year launched the seventh edition of its Certification Course and today counts 190 Italian Wine Ambassadors and 14 Italian Wine Experts.

About Wine Spectator
Wine Spectator is the world’s leading authority on wine. Anchored by Wine Spectator magazine, a print publication that reaches around 3 million readers worldwide, the brand also encompasses the Web’s most comprehensive wine site (WineSpectator.com), mobile platforms and a series of signature events. Wine Spectator examines the world of wine from the vineyard to the table, exploring wine’s role in contemporary culture and delivering expert reviews of more than 15,000 wines each year. Parent company M. Shanken Communications, Inc., also publishes Cigar AficionadoWhisky Advocate, Market WatchShanken News Daily and Shanken’s Impact Newsletter.