Italian Wine and Food Festival round-up

Italian Food And Wine Festival (Photo: Italian Food And Wine Festival)

Presenting masterclasses in noisy venues is one of my nightmares, and the recent Italian Wine and Food Festival in Sydney’s cavernous new underground venue The Cutaway, at Barangaroo, presented a unique challenge.

This is a space as big as an aircraft hangar, a former quarry, concrete lined and with one side open to the elements – which meant if it rained, you got wet. Our little curtained-off space on one side of the cave, beside the lively wine-tasting stands, was as noisy as it gets. Fortunately the organisers, the tremendously capable Lara and Nick Caraturo, forestalled any problems by arranging for a sound system. Every member of the 30-odd audience and four presenters wore a cushioned headset, the presenters a microphone as well.

As the mikes also picked up the ambient sound, the noise was close to deafening but, remarkably, everyone could hear every word the panel members uttered. It was a great success.

The festival was the fifth annual event and the biggest so far: 3,500 bottles of wine were opened, 2,600 free coffees were served, 70kg of fresh tomatoes were used and more than 1,000 pizzas eaten.

I em’ceed four masterclasses, as follows:

1. The wines of the Alto Adige, co-hosted by importers Piero Tantini and Laura Di Giacomo and sommelier Matt Dunne. I especially enjoyed the 2013 Elena Walch Gewürztraminer Kastelaz (AUD $84.50), the 2014 Peter Zemmer Rohracker Riesling (AUD $35) and the 2015 Kupelweiser Lagrein.

2. Gambero Rosso wine guide top-rated wineries, co-hosted by importer Matt Irwin and wine-loving chefs Stefano Manfredi and Nino Zoccali. A terrific line-up and a fun panel, my favourite wines being the sublime 2015 Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino (AUD $54); the 2015 Jermann Vinnae Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Riesling blend (AUD $59); 2012 Fontodi Casa Via Syrah (AUD $100); 2013 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella (AUD $130); and a sweet fortified from Sardinia, 2005 Sella & Mosca Anghelu Ruju Alghero Liquoroso (AUD $110).

3. Barbaresco, co-hosted by importers Giorgio di Maria, Sally McGill and Matt Paul. My favourites were 2014 Bruno Rocca (AUD $110); 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco (AUD $95); 2013 Colla Roncaglie (AUD $125); and 2011 Ca Rome Rio Sordo (AUD $140).

4. Sangiovese, eight wines from Tuscany and one each from Emilia-Romagna and Lazio. Co-hosted by retailer Ian Cook, sommelier Rodney Setter and importer Sally McGill. My favourites were 2014 Querceto di Castellina Chianti Classico L’Aura (good value at AUD $29); 2011 Podere Le Ripi Rosso di Montalcino Amore & Magia (AUD $60); 2013 Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana IGT (AUD $130); 2011 Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (AUD $70); 2011 Bibbiano Vigna del Capannino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (AUD $70); and 2012 Cantina di Montalcino Brunello di Montalcino (AUD $70).

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