An interview by Franco Ziliani on Vino al Vino blog….

Today Italy’s Top Wine Blogger, Franco Ziliani published on his website an interview we undertook at the start of this year. In regards to the Italian press, I consider Franco to be by far the best Italian wine journalist in Italy. He is never afraid to call it, as he sees it and his blog keeps everyone outside of Italy informed on the inner workings of the Italian wine scene.

Click on the link to read the interview:

And below is a rough translation of the interview:

Anthony D’Anna (Mondo Imports e Boccaccio Cellars) ambasciatore del vino italiano in Australia by  Franco Ziliani

After having told, elsewhere , how things go for Italian wine in Australia , I thought to give the word even of wine to the wine to an important ambassador for the fate of our wines in the land of kangaroos. Here is the word to Anthony D’Anna , a member of a family who emigrated from Calabria in the Melbourne area over fifty years ago and deeply involved in the wine business Down Under .

With a large shop, Boccaccio Cellars , where they are sold (with excellent results) and Italian wines from other countries available in Australia, and with the importing company of Italian wines Mondo Imports , which imports and distributes wines from companies such as Roagna, Passopisciaro, Le Vigne di Alice, Castello di Monsanto, Brigaldara, Corte St. ‘Alda, Piero Benevelli, Traversa, Paolo Saracco, Gran Sasso, Pipoli, Christo di Campobello, Le Moire.

An exemplary Italian history, that of D’Anna, which shows not only the great ability of the Italians smarter than prevail abroad and to be the bearer of quality food production, but it shows what a very interesting market for our Wine is becoming Australia. When increasing numbers of fans to see our house wines to go beyond the blockbuster wines too concentrated and muscular and appreciate more and more finesse, elegance, sense of origin and personality.

And that character food friendly , which makes our wines unsurpassed. Happy reading!

Some information about you Anthony: How has started his career in wine and how his training has been in Australia?
My family for several generations had tilled the land and vineyards in Calabria. After the Second World War, when Italy was an economic reality very different from today, my grandparents decided to seek better fortune in Australia and traveled to Melbourne.
At first my father and his followers began to sell fresh bread a bus to the various immigrants who like them had left Europe, then in 1963 were able to buy a shop also sell wine.
In 1969 they could acquire land in the Yarra Valley with the goal of planting a vineyard and produce wine, and then in Balwyn in 1974 bought more land, an area not known for food production, and created a supermarket, where they had particular space foods and wines.
Things went well and were able to grow by buying other stores around and always relying on Australian and Italian wines. In 1997 when I and my brothers were still at the University helped to plant the first vines in the family estate, now managed by my brother that produces wines for our company, Hoddles Creek Estate in the Yarra Valley in Victoria area.
Once finished graduate studies and specialization in trade and finance and international politics, I joined the family business and I am persuaded that it was the best decision I could take. My family produces its own wines (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc) who sells to other retailers and restaurants and exports in the world and we also have a store where we sell Australian and Italian wines.

The natural progression was to become importers of wines of our homeland and sell them to the same restaurants and shops who already buy our wines.
not import any wines, each company must be a family-owned, have a strong bond with their land and promote indigenous varieties for your area.
Let’s talk about … Mondo Imports

We created the company Mondo Imports to make these wines arrive in Australia. Even though we are in the wine world since 1963, Mondo Imports is an activity that makes me very proud, because it’s easy to join in family affairs and not touch anything, but this thing I did not feel well and wanted to create something of my own. Mondo Imports began quietly, with just the help of my family and now has an important role in the importation of Italian wines in Australia.

Choosing to become an importer and specialize on Italian wines is due only to his family background?

Although born in Australia have always had a strong relationship with Italy, a bond that grows each year so that I would not be surprised to end up my life in Italy.

Even if I drink and taste the wines of France, Spain, New Zealand does not have the same bond with them and I feel the same passion for Italian wines. To do well the things you need passion and we are lovers of Italian wines. Is not all work, we import Italian wines because we love Italy and its wines. I come to Italy at least once a year and I feel the same emotions I felt during the first trip when I was a boy: Italy is in our veins and we enjoy Italian wines.

What is the history of the two companies Mondo Imports and Boccaccio? What relationships are there between the two companies?

Mondo Imports We carry and Boccaccio Cellars (and Hoddles Creek Estate) as separate activities. Boccaccio Cellars offers the best Italian wines from different regions and importers, we are the most important retailers of wines of Barbaresco producers in Australia, but we are not their agents.

We sell a lot of cases of Brunello every year to the Australian wine collectors, but we are not direct importers of companies di Montalcino. We have close relationships with Gaja, but  we are not their Australian importers.

Boccaccio relates to the sale of the best Italian wines from other importers. Of course in our store we also sell wines that we import, but not preferential treatment. There can be considered serious Italian wine merchants in detail if we limit ourselves to promote the wines that are imported. We did become Boccaccio Cellars as one of the best shops of Italian wines in Australia because we pay great attention to the work of each importer and would be a disservice to the Italian wine and our customers if ragionassimo otherwise.
With Mondo Imports We sell wines that we import and those of our vineyard, restaurants and shops throughout Australia. We created the Mondo Import in 2006 and currently import more than 150 thousand bottles of wine from Italy.

In Australia the wines of northern and central Italy have always been limited in space, thanks to fantastic importers such Trembath and Taylor, Arquilla and Negociants, who did a great job and people introduced to wines such as Chianti, Brunello, Barolo and Barbaresco. And though we ourselves import wines from Central and Northern Italy, which is very important to us, we have built a reputation as a specialist wine importers expressions of indigenous varieties of South Italy, wines that represent my passion.

We just started the Our first collaboration with a Calabrian winery, Le Moire , which is located about thirty kilometers from the town where my mother was born. A family business that produces a great red wine from local varieties: an example of what is the Mondo Imports.

What kind of wine now prefer wine lovers in Australia? They prefer local wines, or New Zealand or the New World or even tend to choose wines from other countries like Italy?

Today, Australians prefer to drink wines that are different from those that were popular 10 or 15 years ago. People now tend to buy first a wine without worrying where it came from, while in the past tended to focus much more on Australian wines.
Wines of New Zealand have had a lot of success in Australia, today their space tends to decrease with the arrival of other wines from around the world. We have chosen the appropriate time to begin our business of importers, because today the wine drinkers in Australia are looking for different wines and wine styles.

Can you describe what the wine scene in Australia after the economic crisis. In that situation there is the Australian wine industry?

In Australia, we can say we were lucky because there was a major crisis and stayed at the shelter, thanks to our distance and our kind of economy from what has happened in Europe and the United States. This has meant that the scene of the wine could continue to develop and grow over the past five years. The key is not the economic conditions, but the domain of some supermarket chains (Coles and Woolworths) that many companies and importers to dictate the economic terms of sale, terms are not always reasonable or sustainable. This domain has led many companies and importers to bankruptcy or under conditions of great difficulty. These supermarkets have purchased several wine shops throughout Australia and the space of independent traders and shrinking and this is really a big problem.

The economic crisis has changed the wine market in Australia? The people that were willing to buy and drink wines are now available to pay the same price they paid for the wines before the crisis?

Although there has been a huge crisis, people have become much more careful in spending. They prefer to avoid large expenditures or indebtedness for luxury cars or TV and prefer to enjoy life like dining out in restaurants and maintaining a balance in their income. Even the wines priced over $ 50 Australian (40 euros) have experienced a brake and have become more difficult to sell and have to really justify a superb quality of their price.

Can you give me an idea of what is now paying on average for a bottle of wine in Australia in a shop or a restaurant?

The majority of wine sold at retail level has an average 15 to $ 20 (between 12 and 16 euros). This allows consumers to buy wines of good quality Australian and overseas. This becomes a range between 40 and 60 dollars (between 32 and 50 euros) on most wine lists.

The people in Australia prefer to drink wine at the restaurant or at home? Domestic consumption is more important and growing consumption in the restaurant?

People tend increasingly to dine at the restaurant and it’s a trend that will continue over the coming years. This is a good thing for both restaurants and for the wine industry. The domestic consumption is increasing because a growing culture of wine and also the explosion of wine & food blog has given people the urge to cook and drink better at home.

What are your favorite foreign wines by wine lovers, and Australians who have placed Italian wines? What position do Italian wines and the South in particular?
Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand is by far the largest foreign wine sold in Australia, even if not the favorite wine experts. Historically it has always been France with wines from its various names the most sold in the last ten years, but they grow very well the wines of Spain and Italy and it is a trend that is expected to continue.

While in Australia are very well classic wines such as Chianti, Brunello, Barolo and Barbaresco are witnessing a growing demand for wine grapes noble expression of the South, Aglianico from Basilicata and Campania and Nerello Mascalese Etna wines have been emerging in recent years.

We are importers and Passopisciaro Last year we sold cru 2008 that sold out quickly and now there is a strong hold and a great demand for the year 2009.  This will change things much in the past when the collectors took into account only Barolo or Brunello, presently there is room for wines from all regions, if valid .

In your portfolio are wines of different companies and regions: Roagna, Passopisciaro, Le Vigne di Alice, Castello di Monsanto, Brigaldara, Sant’Alda Court, Piero Benevelli, Traversa, Paolo Saracco, Gran Sasso, Pipoli, Lucarrelli Christ of Campobello, The Fates, etc.. On what wines and producers choose to import?
With Mondo Imports is not so important is the origin of wines and are happy to include all regions if I am faced with a real quality of the wines and the company, family owned and strong ties with the homeland and with the local grape varieties.

If the company loses their family and are less certain standards I have no hesitation to stop cooperation even if the company was famous and prestigious. In all aspects of life and business integrity is of paramount importance. If this is perceived then the partnership can only proceed on a sound footing.

In Australia today we are lucky that people are happy to try new and different varieties speak more and more the media of local wine. The wines of Puglia, Basilicata, Campania and Sicily have been a fantastic success and we are indebted to the great journalists who have written about these wines. Without the support of journalists like Jane Faulkner and Tim White are very active in promoting Italian wines in Australia for a long period, the success and acceptance of Italian wine in Australia would have been different.

What is the current situation in Australia for Italian wines? And as the image of our wines?
The image of Italian wine today is quite high. In a range of prices from 15 to 1000 dollars a bottle, people understand that you are dealing with a high quality wine. Even while spending only $ 15 you can be assured of a good quality wine and interesting.

Take the White Salento we import and that is on sale for $ 15 (12 euros) a wine that has been well received by wine lovers but appearing in the list by the glass in some of the best restaurants in Australia. This shows the trust that restaurants and consumers are buying and tasting similar wines. This year we import about 18 000 bottles of this wine that has been successful in all sectors of the Australian wine.

We are in Australia where we are fortunate to have importers of Italian wines that can appreciate the importance of introducing only wines quality and this awareness of a growing number of operators will help us work together to continuously improve the image of Italian wine in Australia.

Australians familiar with Italian wines, or has yet to do apostolic work as a missionary in presenting the wealth (of grapes, appellations, terroir, names) for Italian wines?

Most people are not familiar with the names or the names of varieties of Italian wines and our task of importing is working to provide information and education to do so. Yet this lack of knowledge does not constitute an obstacle to the fact that these wines are purchased and put to the test. How we love to say do not worry where it comes from and what grape wine is produced, but try the wine itself, enjoy it. If you like, buy it and drink it. And by extension it’s up to us to educate restaurants and wine merchants to learn more about these wines. And if you become familiar with these wines can not advise and counsel their clients.

What are the most appreciated Italian wines in Australia? Favorite wines from international varieties are indigenous or autochthonous wines?

Italy is known around the world, people are cooking Italian at home, eating in Italian restaurants and has no problem drinking Italian wine. There has never been a better time for the sale of Italian wine in Australia. People are increasingly diposta to buy wines from native grapes and 98% of Italian wine that we import is the expression of native varieties.

If it were not for this tendency Mondo Imports would not have had the same success. The sale of Italian wines in Australia is a growing business?What do you do to promote the best Italian wines in your store?

It ‘s definitely growing. Mondo Imports has a recent history but it is growing very well and is always more interested in Italian wines. This year I also launched my own wine blog to tell my business as an importer of Italian wine in Australia. Constantly organize tastings, seminars and dinners and invest in education and promotion, this is the way forward now and in the future.

What are your favorite Italian wines auoi and Aue favorite wine regions?

To be honest I do not have a favorite wine or a region. I love Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone della Valpolicella, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Aglianico and choose what to drink from a dense network of varieties, regions and styles. The route of the wine is always about education and I try to experiment and try and enjoy the greatest possible number of wines and styles. I do it at home with friends and professionally with various representatives of the Australian wine industry.

How do you see the future of Italian wine in Australia?

It could not be better: my family is involved in the wine industry since 1963 and in 2013 we will celebrate the first fifty years of activity. We are excited now as they were 49 years ago and believe we have seen only the tip of the iceberg in relation to the fortunes of Italian wine in Australia, a fortune to grow and develop, as well as awareness and demand and are happy to be part of this process and very optimistic about the future of Italian wine in Australia.



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