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.
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.