If you are leaving for the United States and have been listening to the
Italian media, it seems that you are headed for a country that has been
completely destroyed by the economic crisis: loss of the “triple A”, the lowered
rating, joblessness and poverty. I spent fifteen days traveling through three
states: NY, PA, CO to promote my wines and I found that the new American
reality is apparently not so tragic, at least not in the world of wine.
The restaurants that I visited were always full of people, every
day of the week, and bottles of wine were being uncorked left and right. It is
certain that the cost of living has increased and the price point of the
average bottle of wine has surely decreased, but it did not seem catastrophic
to me. To be sure the distributive assets have changed a little, with the big national
importers having reduced the number of businesses represented per region, to
the advantage of the mid-sized and small importers who, if they survived the
crisis two years ago, were able to develop their businesses by concentrating
broadly in some states.
The big north-eastern cities are saturated whereas the future of
American wine consumption is without a doubt the Midwest: young,
dynamic, rich, entrepreneurial and thirsty for wine. Despite everything one can
say about the United States, it still seems solidly at the helm in the
classification of the importance of Italian wine consumption. The euro-dollar
exchange rate is no help, but this is compensated by the extraordinary appeal
that the Italy brand continues to have in America.
My fifteen-day trip was spent with my “old” secondary school classmate,
with whom I share two importers in the US, who is called Alessio Povero of Tenuta Fratelli
Povero and we were accompanied by his very sweet fifteen-year-old
nice, Lucrezia, called Lu. The last time we were in the United States
together was at least sixteen years ago, when we were in Oregon to learn
English; mamma mia what great memories came flooding back to us during our
plane ride back together!
Anyway, getting back to the American wine market, after stopping off for
a night in New York, we went to Philadelphia where we were met by our
historic representative in NJ-PA-DA, Vintage
Imports, who was organizing the annual tasting of the products distributed
by the company at the World Café Live in Philly. Before the tasting we were
invited to participate in a tasting featuring the renowned Californian producer, Duckhorn, who introduced some interesting Cabs and Merlots from 1990.
At my table, the Barolo Serralunga 2006 was highly appreciated
and curiosity about the Nascetta continues to rise.
The following evening, after having visited some of the best restaurants
in the city, including VETRI, we went about an hour north of Philly to
the La Stalla restaurant, where I presented the Nascetta, Barbera and
Barolo to the group of one hundred people gathered there.
It was a tremendous pleasure to see my friend, business owner Paul
Zientek and his wife, together with the other vendors, with whom we have by
now established a fantastic human relationship. The next day we visited other
clients in the city and Ryan, our new downtown agent, had me try a
Californian wine of surprising refinement, the Jelly Jar,
try it if you get the chance!
We left the chaotic city of love and went to fantastic Colorado, Denver
to be precise, where we were met by Charles Lazzara of Voliovino,
who in my opinion is an example of the modern American Dream. He started
his business four years ago from nothing and now has ten vendors in the state,
selling wines from Italy and France all over Colorado. We arrived on the
morning of his thirtieth birthday and took advantage of the opportunity
to organize a tasting of some old vintages: 1964-1981-1990-2001-2004.
The location was the il POSTO restaurant where the chef/owner prepared
an extraordinary lunch for us. The 1964 never lets me down and as has been
happening to me lately, it was the best-appreciated along with the 1990,
perfect in aromatic tannic complexity. The 1981 was “so so”, it was not an
amazing year, but I brought it on purpose because it was the year in which my
friend Charles was born. There is so much work to do in Denver, Boulder,
Colorado Springs and all of the mountains, Vale, Aspen, etc…The market there
is still in the beginning stages, the people are young and wanting to know and
learn about Italian wines, and the bars are always full, even on Monday night.
The weather was sunny like always in Denver, and despite its location
700 metres up the temperature was pleasant, since as they say here it’s “dry”
and therefore more tolerable. It almost makes me want to stay a little
But it is time to return home, carrying with me the memories of two
weeks that were busy but also fun and above all, satisfying. After years of
work one begins to see the fruits of one’s labour, and the clients are
increasingly close to our vinicultural reality, appreciating the products of
the great Lirano territory. But the challenge continues and to
paraphrase the recently departed Steve Jobs, I would like to conclude by saying:
STAY THIRSTY, STAY FOOLISH