Every year I head to Italy (and most years twice a year) to learn more and better educate myself as an advocate of Italian wine in Australia. It is not always visiting the estates I represent in Italy, sometimes it is visiting and talking to the best about their thoughts on wines and vintages from their region. This last trip to the Langhe, I not only visited the estates I work with, but also caught with the Roberto Conterno from Giacomo Conterno, Giacomo Conterno from Aldo Conterno and Gaia Gaja from Gaja. Doing this is the best way of getting the most out of a region.
However, sometimes you can learn more from a visit and intense masterclass with than visiting a cellar in that region. Yesterday, twelve special private customers and myself got to spend two hours with Gaia and for the whole two hours, she talked. Talked about what makes Barbaresco and Gaja so special. Tasting the wines were almost a side show to the main event. For me, I learnt so much in that two hour period. More than I have in any structured masterclass.
Gaia has the smarts to not only equal her father, but to take the estate of Gaja into the stratosphere and having known her and watched her develop over the last five to six years, she is as smart and as formidable than anyone I have met in the wine world (through in Soldera and Biondi Santi into that mix) and I can’t wait to see what she does over the next two decades.
The redevelopment of our Italian supermarket is going full steam ahead with stage 2 opening in June. We will have some big announcements in the next few weeks but this deli, custom built in Florence and shipped to Oz has certainly got me excited for what we are going to do. The question is, how are they going to fill it?
I like to think that my mind is wired a little different to most. I am also lucky that I have the ability to not only think differently but to make these thoughts turn into reality and produce a result, either via a new winery discovery (Passopisciaro, Lamoresca, Gran Sasso, Parri, etc) or a new wine (i.e. Fratelli D’Anna).
Sometimes it is easy to accept what we are given. To say ok that must be it. It takes more thought and effort to say no, that is not ok. And push forward to bigger and better things. In regards to the labels we have created like Parri Chianti and Umberto Luigi Domenico Prosecco this has certainly been the case and the results speak for themselves. I also love the fact that I work with talented people like artist Meredith Gaston to create wines that are distinctly recognisable by so many people.
Projects like Fratelli D’Anna (think Rosso and Brunello) have also been a massive success. To the point whereby we will soon not publicise the release date of both wines so that we actually have stock when they land in Australia for more than a few days. The Fratelli wines have given me a lot of joy especially working with people in Italy who understand what we do and also releasing wines under a label that is now recognised in a short amount of time for it’s quality. The more I travel to Italy and visit Montalcino, the more I realise just how special this town is. How complex and age-worthy the best examples of Sangiovese Grosso can be and the more I want to better promote and educate people who appreciate fine wine in Australia about these wines. Lucky for companies like mine, there already has been the groundwork laid by amazing importers like Trembath and Taylor and historically Arquilla. I would like to think that Mondo Imports has been able to join them in representing some of the best estates (at both low and high price points) and educating people just how good the wines from Montalcino can be.
Our next project should land in the second half of the year, and it is two $20 wines from Veneto. Whilst drinking Amarone is not my favourite pastime, I recognise that good Valpolicella and Pinot Grigio from this region will have a strong following in Australia so we have been working with one of the best wineries from Veneto in creating wines that reflect the strengths of the Veneto region.
These wines are named after a good friend in the wine industry who was instrumental on a number of levels in helping start out as an importer of Italian wine into Australia eight years ago. Paolo is from Veneto so I thought it was fitting to name this new project after him.
At the end of this week, we will receive shipments from Biondi Santi, Il Palazzone and our own Fratelli D’Anna all containing 2010 Brunello Di Montalcino. These are some of the most exciting wines I have tried from Tuscany.
Orders will be dispatched early next week and most of our best restaurants and wine merchants have ordered these wines. Super excited!
Well it was good to get back in Australia after a great trip away. After Calabria and Sicily, we spent one night in Rome and I always find that it is a great way to end the trip. The highlight was dinner at Armando al Pantheon which I love to eat at, and typifies everything I love about Italian food and wine.
I have certainly hit the ground running with Letizia from Passopisciaro due in Oz this weekend for a number of consumer and trade events around Melbourne and Sydney. This Sunday, the 12th of April, Letizia will be hosting free vertical tasting at Boccaccio Cellars from 11am-1pm looking at 5 vintages back to 2007 of the Passopisciaro Etna Rosso. She will also be hosting similar events in Sydney next week.
We are also proud to announce that Mondo Imports will be representing the wines of Emidio Pepe in Australia. These wines should arrive in June and we will have multiple vintages of the Montepulciano and Trebbiano. Once these wines arrive, I will hold a number of masterclasses ad tastings to show people just how good they are.
Finally the new supermarket redevelopment is going great guns with the newt stage opening in June. This will encompass our glass prosciutto cool room, new registers, new deli built in florence and big new supermarket entry. The redevelopment will finish in September with the whole site being redeveloped.
Normally I give myself an afternoon in Tuscany to try as many wines as I can from not only the producers I import but also from those that I love to drink. And for the 2010 vintage for Montalcino, I couldn’t pull myself away from Tuscany and spent time the next morning trying even more 2010 Brunello. These wines are amazing. So complete and complex it is staggering.
After so much controversy in the past in Montalcino, it is fantastic to see a string of strong vintages to bring this town back and centre in the eyes of the wine loving public. I tried as many of my favourite wines as possible and it included wineries like Gorelli, Fuligni, Costanti, Il Poggione and La Fortuna.
Of course I got to visit the producers I represent like Biondi Santi, Il Palazzone (we also import Soldera and have our own label but obviously these wines were not at Vinitaly) and the good news is that in the next couple of weeks we will have a second allocation of the 2010 Il Palazzone plus the first allocations of Biondi Santi and Fratelli D’Anna.
Pretty exciting time for the wine loving public in Oz who are going to be hit between the eyes with some of the best Brunello they have ever tasted with the 2010 vintage Brunello.
Well it has been a trip of extremes. Three days in the Langhe, followed by a day in Calabria and the last three days in Sicily. I love Sicily. There is something about Sicily that draws me to this land and it’s wines.
Five years ago I started with Passopisciaro from Mount Etna. Not because I thought I had the market for it, but because I loved the wines. The decision to import these wines were made with my heart not my head. And sometimes in wine and love you should follow your heart and not your head. These wines now have a massive following in Australia and it makes me quite proud to be representing this great estate in Australia.
The purpose of the visit to Etna this year was to go to the ‘Le contrada dell’ Etna’ tasting which organised by Passopisciaro and other wineries to showcase the 2014 vintage from Mount Etna. By going to this tasting, it gave me a great feel for the vintage which will be one of the great Etna vintages. The wines are tight and structured, with fantastic acidity and purity of fruit.
Before today, we spent time at our other Sicilian producer: Lamoresca. The wines of Lamoresca have had a cult following since the first day we imported these wines in Australia via Mondo Imports. Normally these wines sell out in 48 hours which is good and bad, as I would like to realistically have them available in the market for 2-3 months.
Lamoresca’s vineyards are situated right in the heart of Sicily and it is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. His vineyards are a mix of clay and sand and depending on the variety, it is planted on corresponding soil type. Filippo works the land in an organic way and his wines see minimal oak and sulphur.
If your lucky to see Filippo’s wines in Australia, do yourself a favour a buy a bottle. It is a wine that will hook you in on the first glass.
Tomorrow I fly back to Roma and home by Easter.
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia