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.
At the end of this week, we will receive shipments from Biondi Santi, Il Palazzone and our own Fratelli D’Anna all containing 2010 Brunello Di Montalcino. These are some of the most exciting wines I have tried from Tuscany.
Orders will be dispatched early next week and most of our best restaurants and wine merchants have ordered these wines. Super excited!
Well it was good to get back in Australia after a great trip away. After Calabria and Sicily, we spent one night in Rome and I always find that it is a great way to end the trip. The highlight was dinner at Armando al Pantheon which I love to eat at, and typifies everything I love about Italian food and wine.
I have certainly hit the ground running with Letizia from Passopisciaro due in Oz this weekend for a number of consumer and trade events around Melbourne and Sydney. This Sunday, the 12th of April, Letizia will be hosting free vertical tasting at Boccaccio Cellars from 11am-1pm looking at 5 vintages back to 2007 of the Passopisciaro Etna Rosso. She will also be hosting similar events in Sydney next week.
We are also proud to announce that Mondo Imports will be representing the wines of Emidio Pepe in Australia. These wines should arrive in June and we will have multiple vintages of the Montepulciano and Trebbiano. Once these wines arrive, I will hold a number of masterclasses ad tastings to show people just how good they are.
Finally the new supermarket redevelopment is going great guns with the newt stage opening in June. This will encompass our glass prosciutto cool room, new registers, new deli built in florence and big new supermarket entry. The redevelopment will finish in September with the whole site being redeveloped.
Normally I give myself an afternoon in Tuscany to try as many wines as I can from not only the producers I import but also from those that I love to drink. And for the 2010 vintage for Montalcino, I couldn’t pull myself away from Tuscany and spent time the next morning trying even more 2010 Brunello. These wines are amazing. So complete and complex it is staggering.
After so much controversy in the past in Montalcino, it is fantastic to see a string of strong vintages to bring this town back and centre in the eyes of the wine loving public. I tried as many of my favourite wines as possible and it included wineries like Gorelli, Fuligni, Costanti, Il Poggione and La Fortuna.
Of course I got to visit the producers I represent like Biondi Santi, Il Palazzone (we also import Soldera and have our own label but obviously these wines were not at Vinitaly) and the good news is that in the next couple of weeks we will have a second allocation of the 2010 Il Palazzone plus the first allocations of Biondi Santi and Fratelli D’Anna.
Pretty exciting time for the wine loving public in Oz who are going to be hit between the eyes with some of the best Brunello they have ever tasted with the 2010 vintage Brunello.
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia