This’ll be fun, writing on behalf of Mark! Let’s see how much I remember of what he told me! This also gives me the excuse of not too many photos, Mark was busy so not too many opportunities to take pics!
I wish I’d been able to go to Vinitaly too, but when I saw the car that Mark was travelling up in, I totally understood why I couldn’t go – unless I wanted to hitch a ride hanging onto the roof!
Mark left the day before the exhibition opened and headed for Verona to help set up the stand for Cantina Romanelli in the Umbria area of the expo. Once they had set that up ready for the following day they headed out to the accommodation – 40 km away! Baffling as to why they chose to be so far out of town – nearer to Lake Garda than Verona! However it was clean and pleasant enough!
Not the best organisation methods for entry into the hall in the mornings. All the exhibitors arrived in good time (about 8am) and had to hang around outside even though there were the organisers inside. Mark arrived at 8am and then had to wait until 8.30 to get in! Then half an hour to set up the wines and paraphernalia!
Umbria was well represented with around 50 cantine displaying their wines which was great, however the Umbria section was in a large corridor quite a way from the public entrance, so, A) It took nearly an hour for the first people to arrive at the stands and B) a lot of people just walked through without looking left nor right as they found their way to the Tuscany section.
From all accounts, last year and this year are improvements on the promotion of Umbria where at least we had our own section with the Umbria banners up rather than being lumped together with Tuscany.
There was still confusion with a customer coming up to the stand, looking over the wines and then asking to try the Brunello….. Certainly says Mark, all you need to do is head to the Tuscany section!
I’m not sure if one of the ideas to promote the wines was a good one or not – at one end of the section there was a big stand which showcased all the wines of the region under one umbrella. In a way, it was a good idea because people had a chance to really see the variety that Umbria has to offer. On the other hand it meant less people visited the individual stands and talked to the wine-makers themselves.
I think that the promotion of the wines of Umbria is a real work in progress and things have to be tried to see if they are viable or not. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year.
There was a lot of interest in the flagship wine of Umbria – Sagrantino di Montefalco. This was not surprising as once tasted the resulting reaction is invariably WOW!! or words to that effect!
Dare I say this here? Yes I dare – Mark managed to convert at least one customer to the fact that Umbria has more than one wine-maker. I’d like to be clear from the start that I think that Caprai’s wines are good and we have to give them credit for starting the revolution that is Sagrantino as we know it today. However, I also think that Caprai has an amazing marketing machine and really KNOWS how to promote itself to the extent that outside of Italy, the only name known for Motefalco wines is Arnaldo Caprai.
An example? Just one out of many – We were in Las Vegas last August and had an exceptional dinner in one of the more expensive restaurants there. We got talking to the sommelier there, a man of many years experience. We told him where we came from and what we did for a living. We asked if he’d heard of Montefalco (A tougher question than ‘Have you heard of Umbria?’, but oddly normally both yield the same ‘No’ result!). Surprisingly he said ‘yes!’ Then spoilt it by saying ‘Umbria’s wine-maker is there!’… he goes away and comes back with a bottle of A.Caprai 2005 Sagrantino secco! A steal at $175! We didn’t buy it! As I said it was a rather expensive restaurant!
The other interesting thing going on at the moment is that a lot of the wine-makers are getting fed up with only making wines according to the very stringent regulations demanded by the authorities for DOC and DOCG labels. Many produce stunning IGT wines that can express the individuality of the land and the oenologists. With this and the continuing research into new ways of treating Sagrantino, (there are already several Sagrantino rosè wines, and experimentation with whites!) the future of wine in this area is very exciting indeed!
I hope that the wines of Umbria will continue to be recognised as major contenders in the Italian wine market – they certainly deserve to be. All that needs to be done is some serious promotion.