In February 1 this year we launched the new vintage 2010 Gran Sasso Montepulicano d’Abruzzo. As a label in Australia, Gran Sasso is an amazing story.
We started with the 2008 vintage and didn’t really know how this wine would go in Australia. Sure it was a fantastic wine, but most people in Oz had never heard of Montepulciano, didn’t know where Abruzzo was situated in Italy and because they could not match a variety to the name, would struggle to pick up the wine and buy it.
Well how wrong was I. Our initial order was placed and 350 dozen landed in Australia. We loved the wine in Italy but sometimes loving a wine in Italy and selling it in Australia can be like packing to go to the beach in Siberia. It just doesn’t work. However, once the wine arrived and I tried it we knew we had more than a $10-12 wine on our hands.
We sent samples out to some of Australia’s leading wine scribes (Jane Faulkner, Campbell Mattinson, Gary Walsh, etc) and to say they were bowled over by the quality of the wine was an understatement. Once reviews were out and articles written the response from the public was unbelievable.
What stock we had in Australia quickly sold out after an article about the wine in The Saturday Age by Jane Faulkner. We quickly ordered a full container and within day’s pre-orders for this wine meant the Gran Sasso Montepulicano 2008 that was on this container were already sold. It was the same story with the next container, and the next container. And then we were ordering two containers at a time to keep up with demand.
For nearly every decent wine merchant in Australia, the response they had to this wine was unprecedented and for most it was by far their biggest selling imported wine. When the 2008 vintage had sold out, over 100,000 bottles had been imported into Australia from Italy. Not bad when our initial order was 350 dozen.
The 2009 was a fantastic follow up and this was the vintage which was embraced by restaurants in Victoria and NSW. Go to many Italian restaurants in Melbourne, and you will no doubt find Gran Sasso Montepulicano available by the glass.
We landed the 2010 vintage in our warehouses in late December before the 1st of February release date. I had tried the wine in Abruzzo and it looked good. When I tried a bottle the day the container landed, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. For a wine that retails for $10-12 dollars, the length and complexity it pretty amazing, and it seems that the amazing story of Gran Sasso continues.
A string of fantastic reviews for the 2010 has meant that the 10,000 plus bottles we have had in Oz are already gone. Another 40,000 bottles are due in April and May and who knows what will happen in June and July?
Whatever happens, it is so pleasing to see a wine that does not have an international variety on the label but is based on a native variety grown in it’s region of origin be so accepted in Australia. Maybe without Gran Sasso we would not have had the courage to import so many indigenous varieties from the south of Italy and this is something that I will always remember. Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: the wine that opened my eyes to importing.