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.
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.
After a fantastic five days in Verona, it is time to head to Tuscany with a quick stop in Florence before we spend the night in Montalcino visiting Il Palazzone and Biondi Santi.
Driving through Valpolicella was amazing yesterday with vineyard aspect and altitude the real key aspects. We spent the afternoon at Dal Forno which was very different to what we expected.
Whilst I am a traditionalist at heart, seeing the workings of Dal Forno really had to he seen to be believed. Does all this futuristic equipment help make them better winemakers, those who like Quinteralli would probably say no. But hey, who are we to argue.
For me, going to Vinitaly and Italy is very important every year as it is about opportunity. It opens the door to opportunity. The opportunity to meet new people, new wineries and new opportunities.
Four years ago I had the opportunity to meet Valentino Sciotti. Out of all the people I have met in the wine industry in Australia and Italy, Valentino is someone who sticks out for always being one step ahead. One step ahead when he decided to work in Basilicata. One step ahead with the quality of wine and pricing of such wines like Gran Sasso.
After only a small amount of discussion, we decided to start small collaboration in Australia with a brand called Grand Sasso focusing on indigenous varities from their group. My first order was conservative. 350 dozen for the the 2008 Montepulciano: and I thought that was a good start.
From 350 dozen, my next order was for 700 dozen. Then it was a full container. Then it was two containers. Then it was planned ongoing production until the vintage finished…
Then we didn’t know how the reaction would be when we changed vintage to 2009. Needless to say, nothing changed.
Demand for the 2010 has been unbelievable. So much so that we could have filled out warehouses a hundred times over and still not have enough stocks. And talking about stocks, we have now just received our last container of the 2010 vintage.
Our first container of the 2011 Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo will leave Italy once the country opens up again after the summer closure. The last remaining stocks of the 2010 should finish in the Australian market around the end of October.
Current Reviews on the 2010 Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo:
Since it was first shipped to Australia a few years ago this has been of the great bargains, but this latest vintage is extra good; gorgeous, black, glossy fruit but savoury and vinous. Yum. Max Allen in Gourmet Traveller June 2012.
It makes sense to eat Australian game. Besides, emi is delicous. Its fillets are richly flavoured and dark red even when chargrilled. The equally dark and full flavoured Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has enough tangy acidity to cut through the meat’s richness. This absolute bargain from Gran Sasso is smart fresh and vibrant, with blackberry, brambleberry fruit but very much a savoury wine with spice, sage, a hint of menthol and an appealing woodsy character. Jane Faulkner, The Saturday Age.
…Many of the local versions (of Montelpuciano) produced have been exciting, deep and savoury from First Drop in the Adelaide Hills; powerful and robust from Tscharke in the Barossa; rich and juicy from new biodynamic Riverland producer Whistling Kite – and all well over $20.
By comparison, the 2010 Gran Sasso Montelpulciano d’Abruzzo is a wine of similar quality for less than half the price: gorgeous, slink black purple fruit but grippy, serious vinosity, too, making it delicious with food. Max Allen, The Weekend Australian
This is a hot-selling wine around some of Melbourne’s better independent wine shops, and for good reason – you get a lot of wine for your money. There’s some complexity to the flavours of plum, blackberry, liquorice, spice, dried herbs and nuts, but it’s the fine, drying tannins and structure that make it stand out from the crowd. Acidity is fresh and food-friendly, it has a good mouthfeel and the rich finish has good length and some nice savoury notes.Ben Thomas, The Weekly Review 17th May 2012
Yes, that’s right, it’s now sealed with a screwcap. Importer: Mondo Imports
I put this under the nose of my wife, who, it has to be said, is one of the fussiest wine drinkers around, and she liked it immediately. That’s an achievement in itself, and then I told her the price. Amazement. Anyway, I gave it a quick run before dinner formally and with dinner informally (I took off my tasting bow tie) and it impressed me twice.
Blood plum, nuts, licorice and some chocolate on a middle weight palate that delivers plenty of flavour along with attractive chewiness and freshness. The length is particularly impressive and closes with a desirable Italianate bitterness, like chicory or similar. Is it the best release of Gran Sasso to date? I suspect so. I defy you to find a more interesting, savoury wine with modest alcohol and food friendliness at the price. If you do, please let me know. It’s ever so slightly better than a 90 point wine, so I’m rounding up. Drink : 2012 – 2016 $10.99 91 points Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
I am by no means a travel writer, but you do not have to be an expert to realise Verona has a magical charm to it. Your first visit there gives you tingles on the back of your neck and will transform you back to the past when you had your first kiss with your first true love just like Romeo and his Juliet. Uncomplicated, sweet and like a photograph in your memory: you will never forget it. Verona is a gateway back into the past when life was so less complicated.
Every time I visit Verona my whole body tingles, I feel like I’m home. I travel to Verona every year for Vinitaly, the crazy Italian wine fair that many despise but a fair that I love. It is so Italian: chaotic and sometimes manically disorganized but like most things Italian, it is always beautiful. For me Italian wine is beautiful and it makes sense for Italy to have it’s main wine fair in Verona, the ‘city of love’.
Days at Vinitaly are full visiting existing producers, meeting prospective producers and catching up with old friends. I love the organised chaos of it all.
9am appointment in the Piedmont pavilion.
10am appointment in the Puglia pavilion.
11am appointment in the Abruzzo pavilion.
Midday appointment in the Piedmont pavillion.
Lunch: Rocket and Buffalo Mozzarella Panino washed down with a bottle of Acqua Frizzante.
And then back to the appointment schedule.
By 6pm when you leave the Veronafiere Fairground your feet ache, your head hurts and your teeth feel like they have been stripped bare. Your body tells you to go home and rest. Tomorrow will be another big day.
However, the pull of Verona and more importantly Piazza delle Erbe is much too strong to let you do this.
According to the Commune di Verona:
It has been the centre of city life in Verona since Roman times and Piazza delle Erbe has continued to fill this same role for centuries: meeting place, home to the market, and also home to the city’s administration. The centre of the square contains the monuments that symbolise the different rulers of Verona: the most famous is the fountain, built using a Roman statue during Scaligeri rule and later known as the “Madonna Verona”. On the far side of the square are the 14th century Gardello Tower and the Baroque Palazzo Maffei. The courtyard of the Palazzo del Comune leads on to the Lamberti Tower with its suggestive panoramic views over the city.
The square is awash in a sea of orange. To truly experience the charm of Verona, you must wander into Piazza delle Erbe, past the masses of people and order a glass of Aperol Spritz.
The perfect Verona Spritz is prepared in a wine (not champagne) glass. Add ice, Prosecco, a dash of soda and top with Aperol. This is to avoid the Aperol settling on the bottom. Finally with much satisfaction, garnish with a slice of orange.
Dinner in the city of Verona is good but for myself, I use this time to recharge my batteries with a bowl of Risotto Amarone and a glass of Valpolicella and get ready for another very important event: after dinner drinks at Bottega Vini.
The New York Times describes Bottega Vini beautifully in the following paragraph:
Oenophiles can push an evening’s meal here into the stratosphere if they succumb to the wine cellar’s unmatched 80,000-bottle selection, the largest in Verona. This atmospheric bottega first opened in 1890, and the old-timers who spend hours in animated conversation seem to have been here since then. The ambience and conviviality are reason enough to come by for a tipple at the well-known bar, where five dozen good-to-excellent wines are for sale by the glass for 3.50€ to 12€. There’s no mistaking Verona’s prominence in the wine industry here. At mealtimes the regulars head home and the next shift arrives: Journalists and local merchants fill the few wooden tables ordering simple but excellent dishes where the Veneto’s wines have infiltrated the kitchen, such as the risotto al Amarone, sauced with Verona’s most dignified red.
This is truly an amazing restaurant and to be honest, don’t go there for the food. Go for the wine and you won’t be disappointed. The greatest way to enjoy the night is by ordering a glass of vino over the bar and enjoy it outside of Bottega Vini with your friends. Remember to make sure you have enough friends there to try as many amazing wines by the glass that is offered by Bottega Vini, it is one of life’s greatest indulgences. Oh, and please don’t forget you have to get up early for your 9am appointment in the Basilicata Pavillion at Vinitaly…..
Verona: una vita meno complicata …
Anthony D'Anna: Italian wine importer and merchant in Australia