Tag Archives: Piero Benevelli

Back into the swing of things….

Well I am back and all our business are gearing up for a busy finish to the year. One container this week, another two next week should keep us pretty well stocked up until the rest of the year. There is nothing new in these containers, more of the ‘greatest hits’ of wines mainly from Southern and Northern Italy.

It is funny how Mondo Imports has evolved. Most of the wine we import is from Barolo/Barbaresco (think Roagna, Piero Benevelli, Traversa and Paolo Saracco) and then the South (Abruzzo, Basilicata and Puglia). Unfortunately not a lot in the middle. I feel for Tuscany, it just seems that as each year goes by, the wines are falling behind (not in quality, but in terms of sales compared to the rest of our portfolio). Hopefully we can reverse this trend and certainly haven’t given up on Tuscany.

Before Christmas, we will have more stocks of all the Traversa wines (2006 and 2007 Barbaresco, 2007 Langhe Nebbiolo and Brachetto). Last Monday night, I had dinner with James Suckling in the Yarra Valley (which I will write a post on next) and we drank a bottle of Traversa Staderi Barbaresco 2007 together. He was blown away.

 

Also landing will be 2007 Monforte Barolo from Piero Benevelli. Hence enough wines to keep us interested all the way up to Christmas.!!

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Traversa: traditional wines and business done the old way…

Last year at Vinitaly, one of our goals was to find the ‘Benevelli’ of Barbaresco. What I mean by that, is a Barbaresco producer that made awesome wines at great prices and most importantly, is family owned and had values that we all shared. Much like our Barolo producer Piero Benevelli.

Whilst Mondo Imports represents the wines of Piero Benevelli from Monforte, Barolo in Australia, for me this is not a business relationship: they are family. Within a space of a few short years of meeting Massimo and Denise Benevelli and selling their wines in Australia, his family and my whole family now see each other as the same. Every second year I visit Massimo and spend a week hanging out with his family in Monforte, Barolo. This Massimo returned the favour and made the trek down under to complete the 2011 harvest with my family at our winery in the Yarra Valley. This is how it should be.

Speak to some of the best importers of Italian wines into Australia, like Trembath and Taylor, and they will tell you that most of the best selling wineries in their portfolio have been with them for twenty plus years (wineries like Speri and Pieropan). They will also tell you that they do not have a business relationship with these producers anymore, it is a relationship more akin to that of family.

However, Italy is changing. Sadly for me, too many wineries in Italy employ ‘export managers’ who only care about how many cases they can sell regardless of how and to who they sell it to. This makes dealing with these wineries, no matter how good the wines are; tough work. I would argue that whilst we also deal with some fantastic ‘export managers’ like Elisa from Passopisciaro that I deal with, they are few and far between.

This year, my brother Stefano and myself had Barbaresco on our mind. After day of tasting and talking to so many Barbaresco producer, we finally met Flavio from Traversa, and there was an instant connection. You could see the care and love of what he has for life mirrored in Flavio’s wines. Straight away Flavio informed Stefano and myself that he did not judge an importer by how many cases they could sell for him. If we were honorable people and only sold 10 cases of Traversa a year he would be happy. If he did not like or trust the way you sold his wines (even if you sold 1000 cases a year) he would have no hesitation in cutting ties.

These are the sort of producers (like Luca Roagna, Piero Benevelli, Passopisciaro and Pipoli, etc) that you love to represent. In our early days this was not the case. Some of our producers in our portfolio (now thankfully long gone) did not care what you sold the previous year or how you sold it, as long as you doubled sales the next year. Today, when we come across producers like this, we happily walk away.

Back to Traversa and the wines. Whilst we loved the wines at Vinitaly it was no small feat in getting them to Australia. Flavio refuses to do business by email. He prefers fax and phone. Imagine trying to organise back labels and Mondo Images via fax? Not the easiest way to do business!!

However in saying that, I respect Flavio for the way he does business. For him it is logical and whilst it takes a touch longer to get his wines to Australia, they are well worth the effort. Within three weeks of the wines landing in Australia, the 1800 bottles that we ordered initially are nearly all gone with some of the best restaurants and wine bars now selling Traversa Nebbiolo, Arnies, Brachetto, Barbera and Barbaresco by the glass. Flavio would be proud.

And it is so nice to actually pick up the phone and tell Flavio. Not some export manager who without a blink of an eye, asks if that means that we will double our next order.

Long live Flavio and the way he does business…..

New wines and new vintages due next week…

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Talk about a kid in a candy shop, next week we will recieve new wines from our existing producers Luca Roagna, Piero Benevelli and Cristo di Campobelli.

We will also be receiving the first shipment for Australia for Dogliani producer Bruno Porra who specializes in kick arse Dolcetto. We discovered by good fortune that Bruno is a mentor of sort to Massimo Benevelli and it is a real honour to introduce his wines into the Australian marketplace.

We also have the wines of Barbaresco producer Traversa. Think old school and old vines. 80 year old Barbera vines and 55 year old Nebbiolo vines all add up to some pretty special wines. The only ‘spanner in the works’ was the fact that they speak no English and don’t believe in email so it was phone and fax to get things done. Talk about old school.

Well I can’t wait for the wines to arrive and get them into the mouths of Italian wine lovers.

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One of the joys of importing: forging lifelong friendships.

The wines of Piero Benevelli from Monforte deserve a separate post and this post is not about his wines, but the person that he is. Three years ago at Vinitaly we met Massimo and his wife Denise after my father kept at me to try the wines of Benevelli. When I finally wilted and tried the wines, I was flabbergasted with the quality he was churning out and each day during Vinitaly I went back and tried his wines to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something. Well I wasn’t and the success we have had via Mondo Imports for his wines in Australia is a reflection of this quality across the board.

More importantly, in the fifteen or so years I have spent in the wine trade, I have never come across a person so kind, warm and genuine as Massimo. Last year, my younger brother Stefano (pictured to the right in the picture above) spent time with Massimo in Monforte and this year he returned the favour by doing vintage at our winery Hoddles Creek Estate in the Yarra Valley.

Whilst the vintage was slow to begin with and we only really started picking towards the end of Massimo’s stay in Australia, it was amazing to spend time with him and introduce Massimo to some of Australia’s greatest winemakers (Rick Ginzbunner) and best journalists (Jane Faulkner). It is testament to the person that the other two people who did  vintage at Hoddles this year, Sam Barry from Jim Barry Wines and Yukiyasu Kaneko from Salt (Toyko) are heading to Monforte to do a Barolo vintage with Massimo and his family this year.

Next year, I will definitely head back to Monforte (the picture below was at the Barolo Bar in Monforte from our visit last year) return the favour.