Not all change is bad: especially for the South of Italy….

The famous 'cow' statue at Dario's in Panzano, Tuscany. Another great example of how Tuscany and the North have been fantastic marketers of Italy...

Ten years ago if someone gave you a blueprint of importing Italian wines into Australia, geographically it would start at Florence and head north. You would fill your portfolio with as much Chianti and Super-Tuscans as possible, and then work your way up to the top of Italy. The south and their wines were the forgotten regions of Italy. It would have been commercial suicide to focus on the South. Or so it seemed at the time.

Fast forward ten years and so much has changed. Puglia, Campania, Basilicata and Sicily are hot spots for Italian wine in many markets around the world. Calabria after a slow start is now joining in the fun.

Why has the south been able to claw it’s way back and finally get recognition it deserves?

It all comes down to one thing: indigenous grape varieties.

However in the long run this will not guarantee success. It is one thing to have a massive array of indigenous varieties, it is another to use these unique varieties for the benefit of each region to make sure that they are recognised and respected as noble varieties of the south.

How will the south show the rest of Italy and the world that these grape varieties are as serious and noble as the wines of central and northern Italy? This question will play a big part in the long term success of the south.

Radici del Sud 2012

The world’s eyes are focused on the ‘South of Italy’ to see if this period in the spotlight will create prolonged success for these diverse and culturally different regions. In establishing Radici del Sud, it is obvious that the south is now working together on common goals.

At Radici del Sud 2012 this year in June, it will fantastic to try so many unique and diverse wines from every region of the south. It will be equally fantastic to then listen to these producers and ask what direction they think the south should take? Their answers will go a long way to illustrating to me where I think the south will be in ten or fifteen years time.

Not a bad day when….

Jane Faulkner in The Age, Saturday 21st April.

You wake up and find one of the wines you import written up in two national newspapers by two of Australia’s leading wine journalists (Jane Faulkner and Max Allen). Not that Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo needs anymore encouragement to sell. 40,000 bottles are next in the next few weeks with more following early June.

Max Allen in The Australian, Saturday 21st April.

It is a wine that, for the money, is almost laughable. It makes what we do with @mondoimports so rewarding to be able find wines like this and for these wines to gain so much recoginition.


The wines of Salvatore Molettieri leave Campania for Australia next week…

Molettieri owns some of the best-located vineyards in Taurasi and his wines are textbook, uncompromising examples of what Aglianico can do here.”–- Stephen Tanzer, IWC

Salvatore Molettieri Vinitaly 2012

After it seems like an eternity getting the wines ready for shipment via @mondoimports we have finally have the first shipment of Salvatore Molettieri bound for Australia. They should land in Australia around the start of June.

Included in this this shipment are the following three wines:

Once again, Molettieri has produced some of the most successful wines among this year’s crop of new releases from Campania. These four wines represent essentially different selections of Aglianico from the Molettieri family’s Cinque Querce vineyard. Antonio Galloni

Irpinia DOC Aglianico 2008 Cinque Querce:

The 2008 Irpinia Aglianico Vigna Cinque Querce is an elegant, silky red. Molettieri has tamed some of the wildness of Aglianico without losing varietal expressiveness. Perfumed black cherries and dark raspberries come to life in this finessed, supple Aglianico. Texturally, this Cinque Querce is deceptively medium in body this year, but it has plenty of underlying depth. It is a terrific bottle for the money. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2018. 90 points Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #195 Jun 2011

Taurasi DOCG  2006 Cinque Querce:

The 2006 Taurasi Vigna Cinque Querce is an utterly impeccable, brilliant wine. Vibrant dark cherries, flowers, and minerals all flow onto the palate with remarkable concentration. The proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove, the Taurasi Vigna Cinque Querce delivers incredible richness while retaining tons of clarity, inner perfume and harmony. This is a fabulous effort from Molettieri. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2026.  94 points Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #195 Jun 2011

Taurasi Riserva DOCG  2004 Cinque Querce:

This single vineyard, 100% Aglianico aged 42 months in barrique could prove to be the quintessence of the D.O.C.G. Molettieri is a practicing organic winery. Integrated insect and disease control is followed and copper and sulfur-based products are used in accordance with organic standards. Organic fertilizers, primarily manure, add nutritients to the soil. Molettieri uses no herbicides, fungicides or insecticides – the high altitude of the vineyards ensures breezy, dry air, making molds a rare occurance. Minimal doses of SO2 are added to the wines to ensure freshness and quality.

In the spring we will ship his whites for the Australian summer.

It’s official: Off to Puglia in June to judge in Radici del sud…..

Radici del Sud, Puglia, Italy, June 2012

Some people are lucky to be able to work in a field that is also their passion. To be 100 per cent committed to something, you need to be passionate about it.For me this is definitely the case with the wines of Southern Italy.

I am passionate about the wines of Southern Italy. For me it is not work: work is something you do because you have to. My family import from Italy because we love Italy and its wines. I travel to Italy at least once a year, and I am as excited today about going back to Italy as I was the first time as a young child. Italy is in our blood and Italian wine is our passion.

Over the last five years we have built a reputation for Mondo Imports as an importer that specialises in importing indigenous varieties from the South of Italy. Mondo Imports is now considered one of the (if not the leader) leading importers of wines from the South of Italy into Australia.

It comes with great pleasure then to be invited to judge at the prestigious Radici del Sud festival in Puglia this June which specialises in promoting indigenous varieties from the South of Italy. Below is the press release on the event.

The world’s attention is now focused on the great festival of Southern native wines

The seventh Radici Festival is taking place in June from Thursday 7th to Monday 11th  in Savelletri di Fasano (BR) at the wonderful Borgo Egnazia . This year too the contest will rely on the crucial support offered by the Departments of Tourism and Agriculture that always show keen interest in promoting such events. This will be the second edition after last year’s successfully experiment  that gained the trust of local producers and succeeded in involving  the other regions of South Italy, catching the interest of both national and international consumers. Next Radici del Sud is expected to involve a huge number of world’s witty wine connoisseurs, providing a great deal of really interesting ideas.

Nicola Campanile has cleverly thought to ideally form a consortium of the best Southern producers that can be this way better recognizable for their precious products. Campanile made sure he could rely on a big number of skilled people starting from the long-standing and successful collaborators Luciano Pignataro and Franco Ziliani. Together with them, there’ll beGiovanni Gagliardi and Francesca Tamburello representing the new participant regions Calabria and Sicily respectively. They will spread Radici del Sud’s message addressing it to those producers who make their unmistakable wines with absolute authenticity and rigour.Waiting for other well known personalities to send their adhesion, we can now confirm Tom Maresca wine writer USA, Gary Grunner opinion leader, wine buyer USAFred Nijhuis wine writer Holland, Ole Udsen wine writer – co-author of “Italiensk Vin” Danmark, Maciej Bombol importer and sommelier responsible for Enoteka Polska Varsavia Poland, Tomasz Prange-Barczynski wine writer and managing editor of the magazine Magazyn Wino Poland, Anthony D’Anna importer of Italian wines Australia, Michele Cianciulli wine buyer, opinion leader of Italian wines in USA, David E Smith wine buyer USA, Tom Cannavan journalist Wine Pages UK, Angelo Peretti wine writer editor of the Italy and Vito Intini President Onav–Italy.

The Apulian grapes entering the competition will be those tasted during the previous editions. The new ones will be Nero d’avola, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Cataratto  from Sicily , Aglianico, Taurasi, Fiano and Falanghina from Campania,  Magliocco and  Gaglioppo from Calabria and Aglianico del Vulture,Fiano, moscato and malvasia from Basilicata. The scheduled programme including five days will range from technical activities and congresses to extremely relaxing activities during which the new visitors will easily understand and appreciate all the typical tastes and charme these places can offer. The first two days will be almost completely devoted to the meetings between the foreign guests and the participating producers with the aim to strengthen any commercial relationships and to offer to those producers who have great and legitimate expectations from Radici lots of new opportunities to interface with  experts who are well aware of this brand.

The following days will be devoted to the tastings held by scheduled groups of tasters. What’s new in this edition is that the wines will be prized according to the region where they’re produced and the grapes they come from, as it represents the main interest.  This crucial idea will be discussed during the conference “Autoctono del Sud: natural per forza” that will be held on the last day. It is expected to be particularly interesting as it will pose a serious question to the audience related to whether the man should interfere in the natural course of events even in the territory of the native grape where the old and healthy traditions have always been respected. It’s not by chance that there will be a special prize for the best organic and bio-dynamic wine per each region. At the end of the day (11th June) all the visitors and guests will taste over 250 wines enjoying the delicious buffet offered by some well known Apulian chefs.

2009 Passopisciaro Etna Rosso now landed in Oz via @mondoimports….

Passopisciaro 2009

In 2000 Andrea Franchetti decided to restore an old farm and cellars on the higher slopes of mount Etna. The winery which later was to initiate the renaissance of viticulture on the mountain and an international discovery of the wines of Etna sits at about a thousand meters of altitude above the small wine town of Passopisciaro in the district of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the north slope of the volcano. The wine “Passopisciaro” was a rendering of the grape that is unique and ever-present on Mount Etna, Nerello Mascalese, a botanical ancestor of Pinot Noir.

This was the first modern bottling of Nerello wine. Up until recently, wines from Etna were sold in bulk. In 2005 Franchetti starts making a striking red, named after the vintner, made with Petit Verdot and Cesanese d’Affile, loaded with sweet spices, cassis and plum that are woven together with profound elegance. The following year Guardiola came along, 100% Chardonnay planted at a 1000 mt a.s.l., a fresh, mineral and aromatic white wine.
In 2008, Franchetti started making single-vineyard bottlings from areas on different altitudes, where there had been some classic old feudal properties renown for their wines. The name of these “Contradas” are: Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Sciaranuova, Rampante, growing respectively at 550 mt, 650, 850 and 1000 mt. Andrea Franchetti had realized immediately that once the grapes reached the cellar, they produced different wines depending on the district from which they came from. The Contradas each come from vineyards of different ages and are each on a lava flow with different minerals, grain size and altitudes: this led him to vinify each district separately, representing the different taste of mount Etna’s ancient crus.

Rampante Vineyard (Mt Etna)

The wines of Mount Etna and especially those of Passopisciaro are unique in so many way: soil, climate, vineyard age and altitude all work together in making wines that cannot be replicated anywhere in the world.

This week we received our allocation of the 2009 Passopisciaro Etna Rosso and in June we will receive the 2009 single cru ‘s. These are not wines for the faint hearted and it is a style that will either captivate you or you will turn your back on and decide Etna is not for you.

People often ask what Nerello Mascalese tastes like? My answer is a mix between Burgundy and Barolo. It has the perfume and fragrance of Burgundy but the power and tannins of Barolo.

Photo via

Yesterday morning I opened a bottle of the 09 Passopisciaro, threw it in the decanter and left it to sit during the day. Last night when I came back to it, it was in the groove: ethereal, powerful and full of personality.

This wine and many like it from Calabria, Basilicata, Campania and Puglia is the reason why I think Southern Italy will be at the forefront of the Italian wine scene in the next ten years. Grape varieties like Nerello Mascalese (and there are many more like it) are showing the world just how special these indigenous grape varieties can be.

Back up the truck: #realperoni has arrived….


Whilst I have been in Italy, we have been busy @mondoimports loading up on a heap of different #realitalianbeers.

In Italy,  I had a number of different people ask me what #realperoni was all about? When I told them how their national beer Nastro Azzurro, was now been made in Australia but sold off as an Italian beer they were shocked. How could this be?

Well it is and the good news is that nearly every decent restaurant around Australia has decided that #fakeperoni will not appear on their wine lists. It is either the real deal or nothing at all. So the team @mondoimports have been busy supply most of the restaurant trade with the #realperoni from Italy. Forza Nastro Azzurro!!

Chianti Classico: I love the 2009 vintage….

Chianti Classico Logo

Here it is: I love Chianti Classico. I love it’s honesty. It’s ability to age. It’s expression of Sangiovese. Good Chianti Classico in it’s true unadulterated form is one of the joys of my cellar. I buy Chianti Classico in good years and stick it in the cellar for 6-7 years before bringing it out to drink. For me at the moment, it is the 2004 Chianti Classico that I am drinking on a regular basis.

Whilst we see lots of Chianti Classico in Australia, for me there is nothing like going to Chianti and tasting through dozens of different producers and vintages to get a better picture of both producer and vintage.

This year I left the Chianti Classico region blown away by the quality of the 2009 vintage. It is a year where everything has come together and the wines have lovely red savory fruits, plenty of perfume and fantastic tannin and acid structure. They are drinking beautifully now but will be even better with a few years in the cellar. The best examples have such amazing balance. They are bigger wines than the 2007’s and have more depth of fruit and complexity than the 2008’s. They all hold a fantastic line and in the glass, the quality of these wines is very obvious.

Chianti Classico

 Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico description on the 2009 vintage.

Total production: 295.000 hl (7.793 million gallons)
Strictly from the weather standpoint, seasonal averages were at times exceeded but balanced each other out, making for an optimal year overall.

The mild winter temperatures that have become the norm were followed by an exceptionally rainy spring, whose effect was premature vine reawakening and rather speedy growth.

The summer was hot but coped with well by a terroir that from late August on was able to enjoy big changes in temperature that brought cool nights. In September, with rainy and sunny days alternating, the grapes were able to complete maturation with excellent results. Ripe fruit came to the cellar, with good aromatic complexity.

The results shown by testing the first wines of 2009 are, in fact, more than good: the 2009 Black Rooster has average alcohol content, deep color and net dry extract above average for the past few years, promising fine evolution with aging.

Total acidity was generally low, due in particular to an almost total absence of malic acid and volatile acidity, confirming the excellent fermentation techniques used by Chianti Classico wineries.

Chianti Classico vineyards

In Australia we are lucky to have available many of the best producers of Chianti Classico and I would be making a beeline for Felsina, Castellare di Castellina, Castello Monsanto (which I import), and Badia a Coltibuono. These wineries have delivered fantastic wines in 2009 and I will definitely be putting these producers in my cellar to drink over the next few years.