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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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In Festival Guide

This year's moscato grapes are maturing nicely in Piedmont.

Festa uncorks focus on regional wines

Festa Italiana is putting a new spin on its wine offerings this year, with a trio of tents along the lakefront walk that salute the diversity and quality of Italy's regions, from the north down to the south.

A Veneto tent will focus on wines from Italy's northeast -- the best known here being the sparkling white prosecco -- and a Tuscan tent spotlights wines from that region as well as neighboring ones. A Sicily tent will focus on wines from Italy's southernmost region.

Each tent will feature wines from a single distributor, which will have representatives on hand to offer tastings, pairing advice and other information on the features wines.

"We wanted to show the diversity that make Italian wines so special and by selecting a region from northern, central and southern Italy we felt we were able to give solid representation of what is available in different parts of the country," says Peg SanFelippo, who organizes the wine sales at the annual event.

"The Festa committee narrowed which regions they wanted to showcase and then when the distributors met as a group we made the final selections."

Festa is partnering with distributors Purple Feet, Left Bank and Winebow Group on the tents.

"Festa was looking for distributors that offered smaller, more artisanal portfolios," says SanFelippo of the partners.

"It was also important that the distributors worked well with other distributors and were willing to have a wine ambassador in their tent for the majority of festival hours. Someone who can answer questions, give guidance and recommendations."

SanFelippo says the distributors -- which each get a tent upon which to focus -- brought a selection of wines to Festa, where a committee of 30 tasted them. The input of those tasters was drawn upon in the final selection of the wines.

Two other locations -- the Cucina (in the covered Johnson Controls stage) and a booth near the Miller Lite Oasis will offer a combination of wines from all three tents.

Milwaukee's Purple Feet will staff the Veneto tent and stock a selection of Tommasi wines from across northern Italy, including prosecco, Valpolicella, amarone and (from Piemonte in the northwest) moscato d'Asti. It will also bring Canaletto pinot grigio and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo to the Cucina and Miller-area booth.

Left Bank is bringing central Italian wines, including lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna, Orvieto classico from Umbria and Montepulciano from Abruzzo. Of course, there will be wines from Tuscany, too, like a Chianti and a couple "super Tuscan" blends.

Winebow focuses on Sicily, drawing on its Leonard LoCascio Selections array of wines from Italy.

Festa-goers can sample wines by the glass or carafe and also purchase bottles and cases. Tasting flights will also be on tap.

"We want to have something for everyone, and be able to present the wines in as unpretentious manner as possible," says Purple Feet's Nate Norfolk, "because, man, Italian wine is vast and can get confusing rather quickly."


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