Vinitaly: Tanzania - The New Wine Frontier

22 Aug

There was impressive interest among "old world" visitors and producers at the 40th edition of Vinitaly for the tasting of wines from Tanzania - the outcome of an Italian cooperation project.

Verona, 10 April 2006 - Colours and perfumes from a new frontier in African wine-making. Tanzania is the "innovation" well-worth exploring at the 40th Vinitaly - the leading and largest event in the world dedicated to wine (4,200 exhibitors from 30 countries and more than 2,600 journalists from 50 countries). Today is the last day of the 2006 edition.

This story of international cooperation came about precisely in Verona - the home to the exhibition and a city with a major vocation for volunteer work whose patron saint - Zeno - is known as the “Moor Bishop” since he was born in Africa (Mauritania).

This story began in 2002 thanks to Veronese engineer Fiorenzo Chesini and the San Zeno Foundation, that invested major resources in a valorisation project favouring local producers and the wine-growing patrimony in the Dodoma region in a high plateau 1100-1200 above sea level in the heart of the country. These funds made it possible to set up avant-garde cellars by importing the best Italian know-how. Cetawico (Central Tanzania Wine Company) - the local cooperative set up thanks to this project - is now entirely self-sufficient; the last investment involved the purchase of yeasts for controlled fermentation over a capacity of 800 hl.

The most astonishing thing is final product: quality wines, with an intense, persistent bouquet and a well-defined personality, that having nothing to envy of other wines. A red, a white and a rosé - and this "pink" wine is a real surprise: it opens with an intense bouquet of ripe melon followed by a taste of papaya that then reveals hints of ripe cherries; this wine was enthusiastically greeted by thousands of visitors crowding the stand on the opening days of the event. These wines are virtually free of acetic acidity, thanks to the optimal conditions in which the grapes ripen, which in turn mean that only one treatment with Bordeaux mixture (lime, copper sulphate and water) and sulphur are needed per year for two harvests. The vineyards focus on Teroldego and Marzemino vines planted about twenty years ago by “Baba Cesare” - a missionary priest from Trentino - as well as Aglianico and Syrah vines cultivated locally; all vineyards have been "worked" for some time.
Current production comes to 100 thousand bottles, essentially sold on markets in East Africa, where western tourism is more developed. Now, Cetawico -  with 100 contributors and 30 fully-employed people - hopes to enter the Italian market, through Ca' dei Colli, a wine-growing company set up by three Veronese producers focusing on niche products. The objective is to double production by September and achieve output of 800 thousand bottles in the short-term. The sales price is 4 euro/bottle for the African market, while the starting price in Italy is 6 euro.