When I started this diary of a wine writer, I, of course, had no idea that this project was going to be impacted by a worldwide event. Back in October, Coronavirus was definitely not in the news. Even when I was in Alba in late January it was still something happening in faraway China, or so we all thought. Since then Alberto Cirio, head of the Piemonte region, has contracted it and, as of today, there have been 840 cases reported in the region with 46 deaths (14 March 2020, SkyItalia reporting Ministry of Health figures). While this is only one-tenth of the cases in neighbouring Lombardy, it is still a serious situation.
To turn to the personal scale, the situation has completely changed my plans for the coming months. Not only has the national wine fair, Vinitaly, been postponed [and now inevitably cancelled, 23 March], but so have (or will be) all the local wine events around which I was going to plan my visits. My basic plan was to attend the spring wine events. These give the chance to taste across a whole denomination or sub-region in a couple of days. My plan was then to add a couple of days of visits to leading estates to get some depth. Unfortunately, all these events fall in the spring of each year when the new vintages are available.
- Roero Days, Turin, 5-6 April
- Espressione Barbaresco, 26-27 April, preceded by visits to the Colli Tortonesi
- ‘Nizza is Barbera’, 9-10 May, to be followed by visits in the Monferrato zone
- Taste Alto Piemonte, 23-25 May with visits in the region
- Vinitaly has been postponed to 14-17 June … but that seems wildly optimistic …
As the situation has unfolded, I had kept up some background work, for example, I am still writing up notes from my visit in late January, though now in a rather leisurely way. I have also tasted a number of wines at trade tastings in the UK. Now I am making plans to get wines from Italy and then talking to producers through the magic of the internet (Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp and no doubt other). That’s Plan B and let’s hope we don’t need a Plan C.