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TWELVE ITALIAN RED WINES DEFY ECONOMIC CRISIS

By Culturekiosque Staff

VERONA, ITALY, 16 APRIL 2008 — Some wine lovers and experts consider the 1997 vintage as "the last myth of the 1900s". Twelve of the best labels from the 1997 vintage were signaled out for distinction last week at the 42nd Vinitaly, the Italian Wine and Spirits Trade Fair in Verona. Top wine buyers and importers, wine investment fund managers, collectors, Italian Guides (Gambero Rosso, Ais, Espresso, Maroni and Veronelli ), as well as influential wine magazine editors and critics (Wine Spectator, Decanter, Falstaff, Parker) paid homage at a horizontal tasting of the prestigious vintage. According to wine experts at Vinitaly, the twelve bottles are by now only available on the collector's market-with an overall value estimated at more than 53,000 euros. "The twelve wines presented during this tasting-event have seen their value grow over time, in terms of quality and sensorial features and pure commercial value," the Director General of VeronaFiere, Giovanni Mantovani, said. "Prices seen at auctions are by now very impressive and some of the wines on offer are virtually impossible to find."

The twelve collector red wines include:

Trentino

San Leonardo, Igt Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Tenuta San Leonardo.

Veneto

La Poja, Igt Veronese 1997, Azienda Allegrini;
Mazzano, Amarone della Valpolicella Doc 1997, Masi.

Tuscany

Solaia, Igt Toscana 1997, Azienda Antinori;
Poggio all'Oro, Brunello di Montalcino Docg 1997, Tenuta Banfi;
Luce, Igt Toscana 1997, Frescobaldi;
Sassicaia, Bolgheri Doc 1997, Tenuta San Guido.

Umbria

25 Anni, Montefalco Sagrantino Docg 1997, Cantina Caprai.

Umbria and Latium

Montiano, Igt Lazio1997, Falesco.

Sicily

Santa Cecilia, Igt Sicilia 1997, Planeta.

Sardinia

Turriga, Igt Isola dei Nuraghi 1997, Argiolas.

Piedmont

Barolo Monfortino Docg 1997, Azienda Conterno G.

IItalian Wine Sales Report Summary

Although Italians drink less, Italian wine is more popular than ever world-wide with consumption in the rest of the world growing at a rate of 1.8 million hl / year. And while France has lost in just one decade 6 percentage points on the world market, Italy has managed to hang on to a quota of 18% to stay ahead of stiff competition from the New World. Equally notable is that Italy has even withstood competitive comparisons with Australia in North America, with more than 2.5 million hectolitres (+8% over 2006) worth almost 830 million euros.

The weak dollar and the economic recession are changing purchase decisions among American consumers. The price of imported European wines, in short, is rising in restaurants and wine shops, but wine lovers are still more or less spending at the same levels as in the past. Choice now emphasises less well-known labels-although current wine culture by now means that more consumers know how to select qualitatively valid wines even outside the top market band that ensure a good quality/price ratio.

Lastly, 2007 will be remembered for the major drop in production in Italy, France and Australia. The fault lies with unfavourable climatic conditions, since even Australia had to cope with a drought that cut its production potential by one-fourth.

Estimates by OIV (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin) suggest that the countries most affected compared to 2006 were Italy, with a probable drop in production of 12% to 43.5 million hl (below the already low output for the 2002 and 2003 vintages), and France, likely to post a fall of 11% to total produce of 46.2 million hl. Respectively, this cuts more than 5.5 million hl, in turn joined by 3.5 million hl lost by Australia, 1.5 millions by Spain (-5%), a further 1.5 millions for Portugal (-22%) and half a million hl for Greece (-13%). Put in perspective, experts in Verona maintained that desipte booming exports, world consumption has dropped to levels of 20 years ago.

It is still true, however, that luxury knows no limits, so that even very high end wines like those on the top-growth wine collection list above are unlikely to feel the negative effects of the current economic crisis.

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