If someone asked me to name the most important person for Southern Italian Wine in Italy at the moment, it would not be a winemaker or vineyard owner. It would be Nicola Campanile, the organiser and curator of the wine competition and festival called Radici del Sud which happens every year in Puglia. Radici del Sud celebrates the native grape varieties of Southern Italy bringing in some of the best journalist’s and wine trade from around the world for a week long event that looks at why Southern Italian wine is so special.
Radici del Sud’s wine tasting is the event where the wines made by native grapes of Puglia, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria and Sicilia are compared. It has been designed by the ProPapilla Association with the aim of identifying those labels that best represent the typicity of the grape that they are produced from. ProPapilla’s mission consists of enhancing the South Italian oenology for the safeguard of that cultural heritage that makes agro-food products appreciated. Under the name of Radici, the Association arranges all sorts of initiatives that support the production of wine from native grapes, with the aim of spreading the high quality of the South Italian labels, enhancing their profile and offering opportunities for visibility within both national and international markets looking for authentic products able to express the territory they come from.
This year, 129 wineries from Southern Italy have entered into the competition and I know for myself, when I attended in 2012, it was an amazing and fascinating experience.
And going back to our original statement, why is Nicola so important?
He is one of the few people in Southern Italy who is working to unite all the Southern regions in highlighting to the world, just how special the native varities they have in their own back yard.
Forza Nicola I say and let’s hope that Radici del Sud is still as relevant and important for Southern Italian wine in the future, because the landscape would be much different without him.
Those that have followed my blog over the last few years, know how much I love Southern Italy. It is the basis in which we founded Mondo Imports, to highlight to those in Australia just how great Southern Italian wine can be.
Via Mondo Imports we represent many wineries from Southern Italy (ie from Rome south, even though many now in Italy think that anything under Florence should be considered Southern Italy!!). Our aim this year is to add a high class white wine producer from Puglia and hopefully we find one during our travels to Italy this year.
See below the producers we represent into Australia. Click on the link to visit each wineries website:
Talk about no rest for the wicked. Tomorrow I am off to Southern Italy for Radici del Sud 2012 and today I am packing as many orders as I can fit in for @mondoimports. Most of the wine going out today to restaurants and retail is from Southern Italy which is fitting.
I can’t wait to see what wines I will try and people I will meet: all with a common goal of lifting the profile of the wines of Southern Italy around the world.
I am also excited about the food I will eat. Southern Italian cuisine is only now getting the recognition it deserves in Australia and at Radici, the food component of the festival has been given almost equal weight. Good wine, good food and being in Southern Italy is my idea of heaven.
During my time in Italy I will be blogging and tweeting daily about my travels. Via twitter you can follow me @anthonydanna
Ten years ago if someone gave you a blueprint of importing Italian wines into Australia, geographically it would start at Florence and head north. You would fill your portfolio with as much Chianti and Super-Tuscans as possible, and then work your way up to the top of Italy. The south and their wines were the forgotten regions of Italy. It would have been commercial suicide to focus on the South. Or so it seemed at the time.
Fast forward ten years and so much has changed. Puglia, Campania, Basilicata and Sicily are hot spots for Italian wine in many markets around the world. Calabria after a slow start is now joining in the fun.
Why has the south been able to claw it’s way back and finally get recognition it deserves?
It all comes down to one thing: indigenous grape varieties.
However in the long run this will not guarantee success. It is one thing to have a massive array of indigenous varieties, it is another to use these unique varieties for the benefit of each region to make sure that they are recognised and respected as noble varieties of the south.
How will the south show the rest of Italy and the world that these grape varieties are as serious and noble as the wines of central and northern Italy? This question will play a big part in the long term success of the south.
The world’s eyes are focused on the ‘South of Italy’ to see if this period in the spotlight will create prolonged success for these diverse and culturally different regions. In establishing Radici del Sud, it is obvious that the south is now working together on common goals.
At Radici del Sud 2012 this year in June, it will fantastic to try so many unique and diverse wines from every region of the south. It will be equally fantastic to then listen to these producers and ask what direction they think the south should take? Their answers will go a long way to illustrating to me where I think the south will be in ten or fifteen years time.
After delays due to the snow and shocking weather in Italy, our container of Southern Italian reds has finally left for it’s voyage to Australia. I am so excited to showcase Calabrian wines made from native varieties in Australia.
I think the next ten years are going to be fantastic for the wines of the South of Italy. Our climate in Australia is not disimilar to that of the south so hopefully we get some of our local producers planting these varieties in Australia. It will be fascinating to compare the two.
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia