Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crossing Wine Borders

Today we started travelling at 10am to Prowein wine fair. Together with my fellow MSc in Wine Business students, this is our first wine fair this year; for most its their first ever wine fair. So in the coming days I will be writing about interesting and less interesting observations at the wine fair.

On the way to Dusseldorf, between a stop and another and a few Russian conversations on the background I drowned myself into this interesting book I am currently reading, Io e Brunello by Ezio Rivella, “Come portai Montalcino vel Mondo”. Being in love with Tuscany, this book was given to me as a farewell gift by a dear friend and I must admit that it took me by surprise mostly because in the first few pages it is clearly indicated that this book is about one of the biggest and most commercial companies in Tuscany, Banfi. Being a wine lover and in particular being in love with the Sangiovese grape realising that this book is all about Banfi didn’t strike me as interesting. Yet again I was wrong! Yes I am wrong many times.. Accept for the times I am really sure about things and the Russian girl tries to convince me otherwise.. Back to the book, after reading the first few chapters I immediately realised that this book is not about the Banfi winery, the giant in Montalcino, but about a man with a vision, a wine vision.

Ezio Rivella is surely a man I will look up to throughout the coming years especially when the wine world will not look so shiny! Through this book I am learning that yes wine is a passion and like every passion it brings sacrifices, victories and obviously hard work. Ezio, if he permits me to use his first name, just had a vision of an ideal winery in the middle of Montalcino which he called Disney in Tuscany, Castello in stile Disneyano. A winery which any wine maker nowadays dreams of and which most wine makers come across in some stage in life. Yet his vision goes back to 1957 when most of the Italian wine produced was either Lambrusco, sweet and simple and mostly exported to the US, or Chianti in fiasco, the latter word says it all. Ezio’s dream was simple, create the best winery in Italy a winery everyone will look up too, a winery which produces from Gavi in Piedmont to Brunello in Montalcino. Even if he looked for quality in his wines he still needed financial stability, which even though came mostly from the American Mariani brothers, when times got rough and Italian wines were banned in US due to Italian production malpractice, Ezio was clever enough to recognise opportunities in the Italian market and make the most of them. He produced wines which could be sold a few months after the vintage like Gavi and he introduced Wine Tourism programs at Castello Banfi to generate more awareness and loyalty and therefore ultimately sales. A man who if even in love with wine and with Montalcino had the business mind of Bill Gates and knew when to stop dreaming and make numbers count.

Well in a few words this book is a must read for any wine lover with a dream! I have to come to an abrupt conclusion cos my Russian friend is becoming restless waiting for the Malteser to get ready and hop off to dinner.


  1. Sounds like a very interesting read! Maybe wine can only have personality if made by a person with character...anyone can learn to ferment grape juice, but only character can make wine of the fine kind!...and btw...seems like you need to learn how to yell 'piss off' in russian...:)..or maybe your friend could do with learning the maltese version...:P

  2. I wonder....does passion make any commercial sense? Passion tends to imply that the wine one makes is more to his or her liking and style...yet one key principle in successful marketing is understanding and anticipating what the market wants and supplying it profitably! Is there any place for passion in this? hmmmm...I wonder...

  3. I will try to blog re passion and wine.. yet will do this in a couple of weeks since this week I have to write more about Prowein and the Grands Jours I will attend from tomorrow.. cannot wait..

    Re piss off.. I might let Russian answer that! :)