All posts by Anthony D'Anna

Back into the swing of things…

New Umberto label in the flesh
New Umberto label in the flesh

Nothing like a container each day to welcome you back to Australia. Over the next couple of weeks, we have over 10,000 cases of wine landing (plus Italian beer) which should keep us well stocked over the coming months.

Included in this is the new label Umberto Luigi Prosecco and Parri Chianti which I am pretty excited about. Lot’s of stuff to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Once the dust settles from all these containers, I will report more about my trip to Italy.

A visit to the Langhe: for just one night…

Late afternoon in Treiso.
Late afternoon in Treiso.

It has been a busy trip this year with lot’s of stops for just one night. Throw in lunch and dinner with producers and suppliers and it normally means that eating dinner is the last thing you feel like at 8pm.  However as I have mentioned previously, sitting down one on one is by far the best way to work together especially considering Australia and Italy are so far away, so the opportunity to do this is very rare. Most of the time just once a year!!

Pizza at Per Bacco in La Morra
Pizza at Per Bacco in La Morra

After leaving Parma we drove up to La Morra first for lunch and were craving a proper VPN Neapolitan Pizza. The go to Pizza place in the Langhe is Per Bacco in the heart of La Morra and the pizza’s did not let us down. We ate five pizza’s between three of us and they were as good as I have had anywhere outside of Naples.

Old bottles from a cellar in Alba.
Old bottles from a cellar in Alba.

From lunch we headed to Alba where I do a bit of business buying bottles from old cellars. It is always good togo and see what is available from the treasure chest of old Barolo and Barbaresco. Yesterday the cellars were full with many old bottle of Monfortino and Produttori available to buy.

Dinner at La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso.
Dinner at La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso.

It is crazy how time flies when you are on the go and before we knew it, it was 8pm and time for dinner at La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso. This amazing restaurant produces some of the best food in Italy and last night we were not disappointed. At La Ciau we caught up with Paolo Saracco and Massimo Benevelli. Two producers that we represent with pride in Australia. Whilst sales of both these wineries have gone through the roof in the last year (we have just done our first full container between the two wineries!!) I know that they are happy regardless of sales, as it is more about relationships than sales budgets. When I catch up with Paolo and Massimo in Barolo or Barbaresco I know the drill: plenty of fantastic wine and lot’s of food! Last night was exactly that and we did not arrive back to our hotel until close to 1am.

Dinner with Paolo Saracco (centre) and Massimo Bennevelli (right).
Dinner with Paolo Saracco (centre) and Massimo Bennevelli (right).

After just quick stop in the Langhe (less that 24 hours), today we headed in Milano for lunch with our Australian shipping agent (Vito Bonino!!) who has been with us for most of our trip and our Italian contact. More on that later!!

From Verona to Parma…

Grana Padano wheel maturing at Montanari & Gruzza
Grana Padano wheel maturing at Montanari & Gruzza

With everything wrapped up at Vinitaly we jumped in the car and drove an hour south to Emilia Romagna to the home of our Grana Padano producer Montanari & Gruzza.

Whilst it is great to visit these producers at fairs, you cannot beat heading straight to the source and checking out their operations. Montanari for me produces one of the best Grana Padano and the quality of our visit illustrated why.

In the next few months we will have some new lines for Mondo Imports that really got us excited yesterday.

Rulliano Prosciuitto in the hills of Parma
Rulliano Prosciuitto in the hills of Parma

From the flats of Emilia Romagna to the high hills of Parma we travelled to visit the home of Rulliano Prosciutto.

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Rulliano is considered the Ferrari of Prosciutto di Parma and the efforts they go to pay off in the final product.

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After a long tour and big day we headed out to Trattoria Del Ducato near our hotel in Parma with the owner of Rulliano.

Pasta with Tartufo
Pasta with Tartufo

The food was top shelf and if your in Parma I would definitely recommend it. The Pasta with Truffles was $15 euro on the menu and it didn’t last long after this picture was taken!!

Today we head to Alba to meet some of our producers before dinner in Monforte tonight.

Vinitaly Day One: highlights….

Our new Parri Sangiovese now labelled and in Oz at the end of April.
Our new Parri Sangiovese now labelled and in Oz at the end of April.

Well as much as Vinitaly is a slog, it is great to catch up with so many of our producers and taste upcoming vintages and chat about how things are going in our markets. With Australia so far away, it is hard for producers to keep their fingers on the pulse in regards to market changes so it is up to us, as importers to give feedback when we meet.

Day One was focused mainly on seeing our existing suppliers with visits at Fattoria Parri, Salvatore Moliettieri, Le Moire, Traversa, Bruno Porro and Fatalone.

All the upcoming releases look good but special mention to the wines of Moliettieri which was off the charts. The 2010 Irpinia Aglianico, 2011 Greco di Tufo and 2012 Greco di Fufo and Fiano di Avellino were mind blowing. Great things to look forward to Australia.

Also a surprise packed was the 2012 Parri Chianti. We new it was good, but to see it look so fresh, savoury and alive definitely put a small on our faces.

Piazza Erbe in Verona
Piazza Erbe in Verona

After arriving back to the hotel after 6pm, it was time for a spritz and then dinner at our favourite restaurants in Verona.

Risotto alla Amarone at Osteria Le Vecete
Risotto alla Amarone at Osteria Le Vecete

 

From Vittoria Veneto to Trieste

New Umberto label in the flesh
New Umberto label in the flesh

Yesterday morning we woke early for a big day driving to the town of San Daniele, famous for Prosciutto and then onto Trieste.

Before we left, we stopped by the winery at Le Vigne di Alice to check out the new Prosecco label for Umberto Luigi Domenico which we designed in collaboration with Australian artist Meredith Gaston.

Sometime when you design and work on a new label, you are never sure what the final outcome is until you see it on the bottle. Well to say we were blown away was an understatement. It looks amazing and I would never thought it would look so great.

We should have this new label design in Oz via @mondoimports within a few weeks and I think it will turn the $20 Prosecco market (I mean real Prosecco made in Italy) on it’s head.

San Danielle
San Danielle

From Vittoria Veneto we drove for around 90 minutes and reached the town of San Daniele. Our aim in visiting the town was to add a San Daniele prosciutto producer our portfolio. We already represent Rulliano from Parma and by doing this, we would have covered the two main quality area’s for this product.

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Visiting a prospective San Daniele producer first hand was eye opening and we were shown through all the steps involved in making San Daniele Prosciutto DOP.

Whilst it was fascinating to see the process, in the end the prosciutto from this producer did not blow us away, so we will wait for CIBUS in a month to scope out other producers from San Daniele.

Trieste
Trieste

From San Daniele we drove to Trieste, a town right on the east of Italy bordering Croatia and Slovenia. We arrived at around 7pm and after a quick freshen up, we headed out to dinner.

Trieste is a beautiful city and I can see myself returning here with my family to explore it properly.

Tomorrow we are off early to head to Vinitaly in Verona for a few days which is always fun.

When in Rome…. Pizzarium is a must.

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The famous Pizzarium in Via della Meloria, Rome.
The famous Pizzarium in Via della Meloria, Rome.

There is nothing worse than arriving into a city at 2.30pm knowing that you are too late for lunch. Add to the fact that I refuse to eat plane food and normally means ten plus hours without eating a scrap of food.

The solution?

When in Rome, go straight from the airport to Pizzarium which is around ten minutes out of the main centre of Rome. Think awesome Pizza by the slice with unique toppings and washed down with some pretty groovy artisan beers.

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We double parked our car out the front the Pizzarium (very Italian thing to do) and ate and drank on our rental bonnet.

For me it was the perfect way to arrive in Roma.

In Italia and have hit the ground running….

Tasting new release Lucarrelli, Gran Sasso and Pipoli with the team in Abruzzo
Tasting new release Lucarrelli, Gran Sasso and Pipoli with the team in Abruzzo

Well after 30 hours travel time it was good to arrive in Rome Tuesday afternoon and relax before we hit the ground running on Wednesday morning. Our first stop was the headquarters at Farnese in Abruzzo who are the guys behind Pipoli (Basilicata), Gran Sasso (Abruzzo) and Lucarrelli (Puglia) who we represent in Australia.

It was a great afternoon going through all the new vintage wines which will be available in Australia throughout 2014 and also some new wines which I think will be well received in Australia. All the wines focus on indigenous varieties grown in the region they originate from. It is good to see also the names Bianco and Rosso appearing on the label from wines that are a blend of indigenous varieties. It will give us a reason to educate and show why these native grape varieties are so suited to these Southern Italian regions.

Pre dinner antipasto in Abruzzo. Cheese, cheese and more cheese.
Pre dinner antipasto in Abruzzo. Cheese, cheese and more cheese.

After a two and half hour tasting we were off for a forty minute drive up to near the top of one of the nearby mountains for a fantastic dinner that put cheese (from Campania) and local Salami front and centre. I have never tried so much fresh cheese and it was hard to stop going back for more.

2.5kg Bistecca for main last night.
2.5kg Bistecca for main last night.

However, when we were told that main was a 2.5kg bistecca I knew I better keep some room for this. Whilst the meat was great, the highlight was definitely the antipasto.

Just arrived at Le Vigne di Alice in Vittoria Veneto.
Just arrived at Le Vigne di Alice in Vittoria Veneto.

After less than 24 hours in Abruzzo, we woke up early and drove up to Vittoria Veneto and onto Le Vigne di Alice which is the home of our prosecco for Mondo Imports. Since working with Alice of the last five years, we have seen demand and sales increase at a massive rate and we now ship straight containers of Prosecco to Australia.

The new Umberto Luigi Domenico Extra Dry Prosecco DOC label for Australia.
The new Umberto Luigi Domenico Extra Dry Prosecco DOC label for Australia.

These guys are also part of the team behind Umberto Luigi Domenico Cosmo Prosecco which distribute in the Australian market. The new label (a collaboration between Mondo and Australian artist Meredith Gaston) is on the way to Australia and I can’t wait to see the reaction from those in the trade.

After dinner tonight at Le Vigne di Alice we head tomorrow to the town of San Daniele in Fruili and then onto Trieste.

Off to Italy… See you in Roma…

The first thing to do when you arrive in Roma...
The first thing to do when you arrive in Roma…

This afternoon I am off to Italy for my annual buying trip for Mondo Imports. Like every year, this trip is jammed packed. Thousands of kilometers of driving before and after Vinitaly, with lots of producers visits from the middle of Italy to the top.

Discussing the Australian market with a group of Italian wine lovers in Italy.
Discussing the Australian market with a group of Italian wine lovers in Italy.

For those wineries that I cannot physically visit, I will use Vinitaly as an opportunity to see familiar faces and see what is planned for the year ahead. After seeing the wineries we import, we will then use Vinitaly to see what else we can discover.

As per normal, I will post regular updates about what I have been doing and the people we have visited.