We are three weeks away from finishing the redevelopment of our retail hub which will encompass the best of food and wine, anywhere in Australia.
The build which is running a month ahead of schedule has been pretty easy considering the logistics involved in keeping everything operating.
Yesterday three semi trailers of refrigeration cases arrived and next week the remainder of shelving will be installed. After that, it is just commissioning and filling this massive space.
Already the response from the public and industry has been fantastic and I can’t wait to fast forward a few years to see what it is able to achieve. After September, it is back to my day job of focusing on Mondo Imports.
For the last fifty years, our family business interests have covered importing, retailing and making wines from both Australia and abroad. Over the last year, our retail outlet Boccaccio Cellars has been redeveloped and refurbished to try and showcase what we do across all our businesses.
Our store Boccaccio is names after the Tuscan Poet Giovanni Boccaccio and we thought we would honour him by a special mural painted on the entrance to our Continental Supermarket and Wine Store. This week this mural was completed and illustrates to people that they have walked into a pretty unique store.
On the painting:
In this group portrait, six distinguished poets and philosophers of the 13th and 14th centuries are shown as if engaged in a literary conversation. Each was revered for his role in the development of lyric poetry, which helped establish the Tuscan dialect as the standard language in Italy.The seated figure is Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), author of the Divine Comedy. Facing him is Guido Cavalcanti (about 1255-1300), acclaimed for his love sonnets. The standing figure in clerical garb is the humanist and classical scholar Francesco Petrarch (1304-74); to his right is Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75), author of the Decameron. The figures at the far left are two authoritative commentators on their works, the humanist and man of letters Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) and the platonic philosopher Cristoforo Landino (1424-1498/1504). All four wear laurel wreaths, symbolic of literary achievement. The objects on the table represent various scholarly disciplines. The solar quadrant and celestial globe denote astronomy and astrology; the compass and terrestrial globe, geometry and geography; the books, grammar and rhetoric.
Every year I head to Italy (and most years twice a year) to learn more and better educate myself as an advocate of Italian wine in Australia. It is not always visiting the estates I represent in Italy, sometimes it is visiting and talking to the best about their thoughts on wines and vintages from their region. This last trip to the Langhe, I not only visited the estates I work with, but also caught with the Roberto Conterno from Giacomo Conterno, Giacomo Conterno from Aldo Conterno and Gaia Gaja from Gaja. Doing this is the best way of getting the most out of a region.
However, sometimes you can learn more from a visit and intense masterclass with than visiting a cellar in that region. Yesterday, twelve special private customers and myself got to spend two hours with Gaia and for the whole two hours, she talked. Talked about what makes Barbaresco and Gaja so special. Tasting the wines were almost a side show to the main event. For me, I learnt so much in that two hour period. More than I have in any structured masterclass.
Gaia has the smarts to not only equal her father, but to take the estate of Gaja into the stratosphere and having known her and watched her develop over the last five to six years, she is as smart and as formidable than anyone I have met in the wine world (through in Soldera and Biondi Santi into that mix) and I can’t wait to see what she does over the next two decades.
I like to think that my mind is wired a little different to most. I am also lucky that I have the ability to not only think differently but to make these thoughts turn into reality and produce a result, either via a new winery discovery (Passopisciaro, Lamoresca, Gran Sasso, Parri, etc) or a new wine (i.e. Fratelli D’Anna).
Sometimes it is easy to accept what we are given. To say ok that must be it. It takes more thought and effort to say no, that is not ok. And push forward to bigger and better things. In regards to the labels we have created like Parri Chianti and Umberto Luigi Domenico Prosecco this has certainly been the case and the results speak for themselves. I also love the fact that I work with talented people like artist Meredith Gaston to create wines that are distinctly recognisable by so many people.
Projects like Fratelli D’Anna (think Rosso and Brunello) have also been a massive success. To the point whereby we will soon not publicise the release date of both wines so that we actually have stock when they land in Australia for more than a few days. The Fratelli wines have given me a lot of joy especially working with people in Italy who understand what we do and also releasing wines under a label that is now recognised in a short amount of time for it’s quality. The more I travel to Italy and visit Montalcino, the more I realise just how special this town is. How complex and age-worthy the best examples of Sangiovese Grosso can be and the more I want to better promote and educate people who appreciate fine wine in Australia about these wines. Lucky for companies like mine, there already has been the groundwork laid by amazing importers like Trembath and Taylor and historically Arquilla. I would like to think that Mondo Imports has been able to join them in representing some of the best estates (at both low and high price points) and educating people just how good the wines from Montalcino can be.
Our next project should land in the second half of the year, and it is two $20 wines from Veneto. Whilst drinking Amarone is not my favourite pastime, I recognise that good Valpolicella and Pinot Grigio from this region will have a strong following in Australia so we have been working with one of the best wineries from Veneto in creating wines that reflect the strengths of the Veneto region.
These wines are named after a good friend in the wine industry who was instrumental on a number of levels in helping start out as an importer of Italian wine into Australia eight years ago. Paolo is from Veneto so I thought it was fitting to name this new project after him.
After arriving in our warehouse yesterday from Italy, the 2010 @ilpalazzone stocks are already 2/3 gone and we have already polished off two bottles amongst ourselves! What a wine. Described by Antonio Galloni as a ‘very beautiful wine.’ I doubt the first shipment of this wine will last more than a week.
Luckily we have secured a second allocation which should arrive mid year. What a wine and illustrates why I have been talking up 2010 Brunello for the last few years.
It is crazy to think that in a month, I will be in Italy. Already everything is planned (almost down to the hour) with the usual trip to Vinitaly plus a week in Barolo/Barbaresco and also a week down south (Calabria and Sicily). I will be taking my 78 year old uncle Zio Bruno with me for the most of the trip which will be great. The last time I travelled with him he was 65 and we struggled to keep up with him. For a man of 78, he is super fit and still is as sharp as ever.
Whilst it will be all work, we will take the morning off (when we drive from Le Moire to catch the ferry in Reggio) to make a slight detour to visit Ferrazzano. The home town of my uncle and my father. Whilst I visited my mother’s hometown with my wife and kids a couple of years ago, it has been over thirty years since I visited Ferrazzano.
My father was born in the small vallage Ferruzzano (pictured above) which belongs the Province of Reggio Calabria It is 110 km southwest of Catanzaro and about 40 km east of Reggio Calabria. It is by no means a large village. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of just 863 people.
When i visited last, I was too young to remember all the details and today just have images of the road up to the town. This time, whilst we will only spend an hour or so there, it will memorable and I will savour the fact that I visited the town with my Uncle, who like my father, has played a big role in shaping my life and that of the rest of my family.
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia