Tom Cannavan was presented with the 2018 IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year award on Saturday night at Vinitaly’s dramatic opening dinner in Verona.
The award – a beautiful goblet of specially-commissioned Murano glass – was handed to the wine-pages.com founder by Giovanni Mantovani, the general director of Veronafiere, the organiser of the annual trade fair.
“This is a tremendous honour,” Cannavan said, in front of an audience of 600 appreciative dinner guests. “Like a lot people in the world of wine, it was a passion for the subject that steered me towards a career in wine. Sharing that passion through my writing and broadcasting rarely feels like work, and is always a pleasure.
“Nevertheless, it is so gratifying to be chosen to receive this truly international honour by the IWSC, which is proof that I must be doing something right. After more than 20 years, 2017 was more active for me than ever, and my enthusiasm remains undimmed, so it’s great to have acknowledgement of that.”
Cannavan is a highly-respected wine critic and journalist. Wine-pages.com, which he launched in 1995, has an audience of 400,000 visitors a month, boosted by a 16,000-strong Twitter following. In 2008 he won the prestigious Louis Roederer trophy for online wine writing.
The wine world is lucky to have him: it’s a little-known fact that in an earlier incarnation he was vocalist and guitarist for a punk band called Restricted Code, which had some success in the late 1970s, including supporting Talking Heads on tour.
The dinner took place in the Gallerie Mercatali in Verona, a cathedral-sized warehouse, built in 1924 and recently renovated by the city council.
Guests were welcomed by a contemporary string quartet perched on a scaffold platform, under a soaring roof supported by massive concrete arches.
The servers, wielding magnums of Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene from Carpenè Malvolti, reinforced the industrial theme of the evening by wearing white boiler suits and hard hats.
The dinner was prepared by chef Davide Oldani in honour of Gualtiero Marchesi, the chef considered the father of modern Italian cuisine, who died last year. Dishes included a splendid riso, oro e zafferano, a saffron risotto garnished with a panel of gold leaf.
The wines served were Antinori’s Calabrone rosé, Alma Terra Bellavista Chardonnay, Sandrone Valmaggiore Nebbiolo, and Donnafugata’s Ben Rye passito.
Cannavan was preceded on stage by two other Veronafiere award winners. Arnaldo Caprai of Cantina Arnaldo Caprai, considered one of the most illustrious names in Italian oenology, and Gina Gallo of E&J Gallo, the biggest family-run winery in the US, were both awarded the Vinitaly International Award for services to the global wine industry.