Southern Italian secrets by Ben Thomas in the Weekly Review….

Le Moire vineyards in Calabria, Italy

Today in the Weekly Review, Ben Thomas has written a fantastic article on the success of Southern Italian wines in Australia. Mondo Imports is well represented with three out of the five wines recommended.

Click on the link to read the article:

As I get ready to head off an judge in Radici del Sud 2012 next week, I have dedicated this week to only drinking the wines of Southern Italy. I will also try and blog everyday from Radici to keep you informed about all the exciting things happening in the South of Italy at the moment.

The first visit down under for Saracco Moscato….

Paolo Saraccp Moscato d’Asti

Paolo Saracco is one of the reference-point producers of fine Moscato. I always make sure to have at least a few bottles on hand at the house. 

Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

It has been a busy few days with the first trip to Australia for Fabio Saracco, who handles all of the export side of Paolo Saracco world wide (his cousin Paolo Saracco is the winemaker).

Fabio had two days in the trade in Melbourne to get a better understanding of the market and I think he was pleasantly surprised. He thought Melbourne had a distinct European feel to it.

Guy Grossi (left) with Fabio Saracco

One of the highlights was lunch at Grossi Florentino where he was served by owner and chef Guy Grossi. Guy is well known in Italy and Grossi are big supporters of Paolo Saracco Moscato.

To finish Fabio’s final night in Melbourne, we took Fabio to Scopri in Carlton to show just how good Northern Italian food can be cooked in Australia. We matched all the food to old Australian wines just to show Fabio that Australia can produce their share of top line wines.

To finish, yesterday Fabio and myself flew up to Sydney to meet our agent for Mondo Imports in Sydney and had a enjoyable day before flying home late last night.

It was great to have Fabio in Australia and I hope he continues to visit our country to help spread the word just how good Moscato (and Saracco specifically) can be.

Back after a great family break…

Last week we left for a quick trip up north with the family to get some sun and spend some quality time with the family before I leave for Italy in a week or so.

The first proper beach walk with my youngest daughter…

It was a fantastic little trip and it is amazing how even a few days of family time can make the world of difference.

After arriving back late yesterday afternoon, I was back at Melbourne Airport last night to pick up Fabio Saracco from Paolo Saracco Moscato for a fun few days in the Melbourne and Sydney wine trade.

A wine cellar is more than just a wine cellar: it shows our journey through life….

Last week I was looking through my cellar (I do not catalogue and prefer to put wines in and forget about them) and reminiscing about all the different wines, wine styles and varieties that I have put in there over the last decade and a half. The vast majority of my cellar is Italian, split roughly 40% from the North, 30% from the Central and 30% from the South of Italy.

The Cellars of Monsanto

Over this fifteen year period my preferences for wine have changed markedly. I have also fallen in love with certain regions and styles before falling out of love and now after fifteen years, falling back into love with those wines. It is amazing the changes you go through.

The perfect example of this is Brunello di Montalcino. When I was fresh out of University, my favourite wine was Brunello di Montalcino and a good proportion of the Brunello in my cellar was from these days. It peaked around the 2001 vintage and therefore in my cellar are the likes of Casanova di Neri, Fanti, Fuligni, Castelgiocondo, Banfi and Mastrojanni. These wines are now just entering their drinking window.

However it did not take long for my preferences to change and I found that a couple of years later, I had a preference for Chianti Riserva over Brunello and this continued up until recently. Hence, I have put a lot of different Chianti Riserva from 2004 and 2006 in my cellar over the last five years.

There also also some wines in there that I would never think about putting in my cellar today. I love Barbera d’Alba and have a major preference of it compared to Barbera d’Asti. However, in those early years I put more Barbera d’Asti in there without knowing the major differences between the two. I am sure that I will enjoy the Barbera d’Asti but looking back at it now, I wish it was bottles of Barbera d’Alba as I know I would have got far greater enjoyment from them.

Fifteen years ago the wines of Southern Italy did not exist in my world. Today it is the exact opposite. Now Nerello Mascalese from Mt Etna, Aglianico from Basilicata and Campania, Negroamaro and Primativo from Puglia and Gaglioppo from Calabria are front and centre in my own cellar. I can’t wait to see how the wines I have put to sleep in the last years will develop in the next decade.

My cellar has also witnessed my life journey over the last fifteen years: and what an amazing journey it has been. Fifteen years ago, I had just finished a couple of degrees at University and entered the wine world fresh and eager to learn. Whilst I have grown up in and around wine, being able to work with it almost every day of the week has given me a different perspective of it and I could not think of a life not revolved around wine.

As the years have passed, my life and cellar have developed along a constant line and length. Whilst finishing University (literally the last few weeks of it) I met my future wife and it was in those early years of our relationship that we started to head to Italy travelling. Those were also the years that my cellar started to develop a strong Italian line.

When we married, I was given some amazing wines as gifts and these wines have a special spot in my cellar. The birth of my two beautiful daughters (born in 2007 and 2010)  has meant extra German Riesling and Vintage Port so they can drink it with their children.

My cellar and also the journey through life is always changing, with ebbs and flows, and differences in what we like and prefer. I am sure in the next ten or twenty years time this will continue and I can’t wait to see where both will be in another decade or so.

The dust has settled and now looking forward to a fantastic month ahead…

Hapag-Lloyd Container Tracking

Well it has been a crazy past month. More containers than I can keep track of and heaps of new producers, new wines and equally important, new accounts to get my head around.

Beach vacation with my family

For the next few weeks the containers will stop and I will have a chance to head away on a beach vacation with my family before heading back to Italy in June.

Once I get back from Italy mid June, we have another wave of new producers (Salvatore Molettieri (Campania), Il Palazzone (Montalcino), Zabu (Sicily) and new vintage wines from Castello Monsanto, Paolo Saracco, Piero Benevelli. It should be a fantastic month ahead.

A week like no other…

Well what a crazy week we have just had.

Four containers in five days has stretched us to our limits but it has been well worth it. Heaps of new wines and lot’s more of the same.

Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010

Gran Sasso still amazes me. 10,000 bottles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010 were unloaded Tuesday morning and by lunchtime 10,000 bottles were dispatched to various restaurants and wine stores around Australia. We have another 40,000 bottles due in the next few weeks just to keep up with demand.


Also more stocks of #realperoni which should keep us ahead of the game for the next couple of months.

Plus new wines from Le Vigne di Alice, Corte Sant’ Alda, Lucarrelli, Pipoli have all arrived and been unloaded this week. We have a couple of weeks break for the next batch of containers arrive.

A visit in March and now Il Palazzone available from Mondo Imports in June….

Il Palazzone, Montalcino (Italy)

Il Palazzone, or “The Big Palace” is a small estate that has been producing wine for over ten years. While the estate is roughly 20 acres, the land authorized for the production of Brunello di Montalcino is a mere 10 acres. Obviously, a property of these dimensions creates a tightly controlled environment which is determined by its owner. A New Yorker and a wine lover, not necessarily in that order, the proud owner takes an enormous interest in the vineyard despite the time constrains imposed by his day job as a business man. He is personally present at harvest time and all other key moments of the wines development. No care is spared in the entire vinification process, which end result is approximately 20,000 bottles each year.

Located on the western side of Montalcino, the estate is quite high in terms of altitude – roughly 480 meters above sea level. This altitude ensures excellent ventilation which is salutary for grapes, as it reduces mold production to a bare minimum. The constant action of the wind combined with the characteristics of the soil on the western side of Montalcino reinforce the character of the elegant wines produced by the estate. The vines themselves are over twenty years old and have therefore grown long root systems making them more resilient during periods of drought. These deep roots are able to reach minerals and components that are not present in the top soils and enrich the taste and aromas of the wines. Il Palazzone follows all the EEC regulations regarding only organic intervention in the vineyard.

In March this year, I visited the estate of Il Palazzone and met the charming Laura and Marco who run the estate of Il Palazzone in Montalcino, Italy.

When I returned I knew in my head that the opportunity (or urge) to import these fantastic wines to Australia would get the better of me and this week I placed our first small order which should arrive sometime in June.

Il Palazzone in winter.

If you are looking for big, upfront and ballsy Brunello look away. These wines are all about complexity, texture and elegance. We have started with the 2006 Brunello di Montalcino before moving to import back vintages and then the 2007 from September.

I could not be happier to offer these fantastic wines in Australia and I think they will be very well received when they arrive.