For those that think of the wine growing region of Mount Etna has a warm climate, will be in for shock when you visit. High altitudes, an active volcano and snow falls make Etna one of the worlds most intriguing wine regions.
I love Etna and it’s wines. These photo’s from the winery we represent, Passopisciaro were taken over the weekend and shows the level of snow fall that can happen on Etna.
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.
Well it has been a trip of extremes. Three days in the Langhe, followed by a day in Calabria and the last three days in Sicily. I love Sicily. There is something about Sicily that draws me to this land and it’s wines.
Five years ago I started with Passopisciaro from Mount Etna. Not because I thought I had the market for it, but because I loved the wines. The decision to import these wines were made with my heart not my head. And sometimes in wine and love you should follow your heart and not your head. These wines now have a massive following in Australia and it makes me quite proud to be representing this great estate in Australia.
The purpose of the visit to Etna this year was to go to the ‘Le contrada dell’ Etna’ tasting which organised by Passopisciaro and other wineries to showcase the 2014 vintage from Mount Etna. By going to this tasting, it gave me a great feel for the vintage which will be one of the great Etna vintages. The wines are tight and structured, with fantastic acidity and purity of fruit.
Before today, we spent time at our other Sicilian producer: Lamoresca. The wines of Lamoresca have had a cult following since the first day we imported these wines in Australia via Mondo Imports. Normally these wines sell out in 48 hours which is good and bad, as I would like to realistically have them available in the market for 2-3 months.
Lamoresca’s vineyards are situated right in the heart of Sicily and it is one of the most beautiful spots on the island. His vineyards are a mix of clay and sand and depending on the variety, it is planted on corresponding soil type. Filippo works the land in an organic way and his wines see minimal oak and sulphur.
If your lucky to see Filippo’s wines in Australia, do yourself a favour a buy a bottle. It is a wine that will hook you in on the first glass.
Well it is crazy to think that we have been in Italy for 48 hours and already seem like we have done so much. Today was the first day of Vinitaly and it was great to catch up with the wineries that we love to represent in Australia.
One of the many highlights from today was trying the 2010 Brunello from Biondi Santi. The first shipment of this wine (which has been fully allocated) will arrive in Australia in a couple of the weeks and it was great to try this wine. It is one of the most complete Biondi Santi Brunello’s I have ever tried at such a young age. The winery has sold it’s entire production of BdM in a month of it being in the market and I am glad that we secured a second large allocation of this wine for June shipment to Australia via Mondo Imports.
Another highlight was trying the 2012 Cru’s and standard 2013 Etna Rosso from Passopsiciaro. I feel like the very essence of Mondo Imports is illustrated through these wines. Indigenous wines that show the territory they are grown in (Etna) and each vintage showcases the difference of the season. We should also announce in the next month or so another one of Italy’s best wineries will be joining our portfolio. We tried the wines again today and they are standouts. More in this soon!
After a big day, a sprtiz in Piazza Erbe is on the cards then a glass of vino at Bottega Vini.
September has been a crazy month. I can’t remember anything like it so I apoligise for the short break in blogging. Lots have been happening: new shipments from our favourite producers like Roagna, Fatalone, Lucarelli and Passopisciaro and a massive amount of building works going on. So good but so crazy.
Whilst our new wine store will be ready in the month, most of the cosmetic changes for our Continental supermarket won’t be seen visually until early next year. Over the last couple of months we have been building a new underground bakery for our Italian bakers and it will be double the current space they operate in. Needless to say, moving a three tonne oven originally shipped from Verona had it’s challenges. Just fitting it through the door (see above) took a day and our technicians are installing it as we speak. It all should be operational by mid next week.
On the importing front, lot’s of awesome stuff has landed. Think the new 2012 Etna Rosso from Passopisciaro has just landed and already snapped up by the best wine stores and restaurants in Oz and the demand for these wines is now crazy and it has been a great five years building up the goodwill for Passopisciaro in Australia.
Next week things will quieten down a touch and I look forward to hosting a private dinner looking at four decades of the standard Produttori del Barbaresco at Sosta Cucina next Thursday. Notes will be posted here later in the week.
Whilst the economy might be in the doldrums (or not exactly sure what it wants to do), there is no doubting the thirst for Italian wine. Just as I shudder when I get my upcoming invoices, duties, etc before we know it and almost as soon as the stocks land, most of the stocks have already found a home, either to one of the restaurants we love, or independent retail and private customers.
Within the space of a week of arriving, every single bottle from Lamoresca and Passopisciaro (all the cru’s and 70% of the standard Etna Rosso) have been sold. Whilst these wines are from the South (and it is a region that I am most passionate about) the trend is all over.
We simply cannot import enough (or be able to buy enough) Piero Benevelli with the 10,000 bottles landing in Australia in the past two months already sold. At the end of the month, his 2009 and 2010 Barolo’s will land and it is going to be a tough job allocating these out to the trade. It will be in bottles rather than in cases.
What it shows to me is that not only do we have a good understanding on what our customers want (well that is a lie as I import wines I love, not wines I think will sell) but Italian wine in general is well in demand.
Why buy Bordeaux and Burgundy at such crazy prices, when one bottle of good Burgundy will get you a case of 2010 Barolo? One could argue that the longevity of Barolo will be longer and in regards to the 2010 vintage, you cannot argue that the best Burgundies are more complex than the best Barolo.
I have seen so many great Baroli for under $100 a bottle. These are wines that will age with decades with complexity to burn. Whilst my cellar is generally all Italian, the thought of buying good Burgundy and Bordeaux makes my wallet shudder. It would be interesting to ask importers of Spanish wine if they are getting an uplift in demand from fine wine buyers moving from French to Italian and Spanish wines.
These wines just landed a few days ago and will be sold out by the start of next week. From nothing five years ago, now the wines of Passopisciaro are amongst the most sought after in our portfolio.
Whilst I tried all the cru’s at Vinitaly, nothing beats looking at them again in the comforts of your own house. Last night it was Guardiola and the description of ‘crying red fruit’ couldn’t be more spot on.
Mount Etna: a place that makes magical and mythical wines that convey this in the structure and taste of their wines. They are light in colour and strong in flavour and tannin. They are some of the most complex wines I have tried from any grape variety. The fact that the once obscure and unknown grape variety, Nerello Mascalese is being such amazing wines sums up Etna in so many ways.
It was this beauty that drew me to the wines of Passopisciaro all those years ago. Back then, only one or two producers from Etna made their way to Australia which meant that I basically had the pick of the mountain, to decide which winery to import to Australia.
Back then I was tossing up between Graci and Passopisciaro and decided to go with my heart and start with Passopisciaro. Well fast forward and the wines have found a strong following by wine lovers all around Australia.
This week, the standard 2011 Etna Rosso (the single cru’s should arrive in the first week of July) was reviewed by Gary Walsh on The Wine Front and within 24 hours our whole allocation was sold.
Another shipment of the 2011 Etna Rosso will arrive along with the Cru’s in the first week of July and be available via @mondoimports Together with these wines and the wines of Lamoresca, we think we have captured the magic of Etna and Sicily with these amazing wines. Forza Passopisciaro. Forza Etna. Forza Sicily.
Talk about self sufficient… Last night my wife made a fantastic sugo (from sauce we made in February) with the artisan pasta we imported from Puglia and cheese grated over the top that we imported directly from Italy. Finally washed down with a bottle of Passopisciaro Nerello Mascalese from Mount Etna which we imported mid last year. Talk about a satisfying meal….
Last month I spent close to a month in Southern Italy on vacation. No work, just plenty of time relaxing with my family, drinking and eating the best the south has to offer. If we focus on the wines we drank during the trip, there was one constant: it was the wines we drank were grown on volcanic soils. It seems on every horizon, there was the glimmer of a volcano in the distance.
No more was this obvious than in Sicily. I love Sicily. I love the scenery. I love the food. I especially love the wine. When it comes to wine in Sicily, Etna reigns supreme. However it was not that long ago that the wines of Etna were not considered to be one of the finest in Italy. In fact, in regards to quality wines from Sicily, Etna barely got a run in. First it was Nero d’Avola and then it seems international varieties were seen to be one of the ‘bright’ stars of Sicily.
Well fast forward to today and it is great to see the spot firmly placed on Mount Etna and specifically Nerello Mascalese. This ancient variety is capable of producing magical wines that are now seen to rival Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello. In fact, in great years like 2010, Nerello Mascalese has ethereal complexity mixed with power that makes the much published ‘Burgundy meets Barolo’ the perfect descriptor of this amazing grape variety.
The thing about Etna is that it so diverse. Depending on the age of the vine, the lava flow that it is grown on, the altitude and the growing season, Etna can be vastly different. Over the next twenty years, we are going to see some amazing wines out of Etna as each producer better understands what they are playing with. Like Etna erupting those many thousand years ago for the first time 170,000 years ago, we are going to see the birth of one of Italy’s truly great wine regions that will vie with Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello in the very near future.
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia