Friday, April 21, 2017

Collevite Launches RipaWine at Vinitaly

At Vinitaly, one is always on the move, searching for new wines to try. However, the best times were those sitting down with the producers to try the wines with them. Luckily, I did just that at the Collevite stand. This is a producer from the Marche region that makes good quality wines at an affordable price. Medium-sized, they export in various markets and now their main focus is Sweden, a monopole, where they were able to get into recently. Producing also olive oil and beer, this producer stands for the great value and their ability to match with local food. At the stand, I quite enjoyed the typical"Ciauscolo", a dry cured and cold-smoked salume. This product is a IGP (indicazione geografica protetta, a guarantee of origins of food in Italy) that goes really well with the Rosso Piceno DOP.

At the fair, they introduced me to RipaWine, their new brand with a totally new and innovative bottle design, which gives consumers a sense of terroir by outlining the topographic area of the vineyard. They want to make top eco-friendly wines, certified organic, with low sulphites and terroir-driven. They will enter both the Italian and the export market, at a medium-high price range. In Italy, the suggested retail price will be of around 24 euros.  Below are the wines that I have tried along with Collevite CEO Adriano Lorenzi, and fellow wine blogger Chiara Bassi. 



-KRETA 2016: Offida DOCG Passerina Bio. 

100% Passerina. 

 Fresh and Mineral. Great aperitif wine.

-GEKO 2016: Offica DOCG Pecorino Bio. 

100% Pecorino.

Very intense nose, with notes of sage and stone fruits.



- MORO MATTO 2015 (aka Kartico): Marche IGP Sangiovese Bio. 

Sangiovese 90%, Montepulciano 10%.

Smooth and Round, with notes of ripe red fruits.

- TRUFO 2015: Rosso Piceno DOP Superiore DOP Bio. 

Montepulciano 60%, Sangiovese 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%

Concentrated, rich and with black fruits and jammy notes. 

- KLAUSURA 2012: Offida DOCG Rosso Bio.

Montepulciano 90%, 10% Petit Verdot.

Persistent, complex, with spices and ripe black and red fruits notes.


Altough I was positevely impressed with all the wines, which represent an important step for Collevite towards the full expression of terroir and grape varietals, the Klausura 2012 standed out for its complexity. Aged in barriques, it has a wide array of aromas, ranging from blackberry, morellino cherry and violet, to tertiary notes as black pepper, coffe and toasted nuances . It has a very long length in the mouth and can be paired with dishes as pasta with meaty sauce, long aged cheeses and roasted meat. A very good wine that be drunk now or aged as well. It has be decanted to open up and fully show its complexity.

Although the Marche region might be not be as known internationally as the wine regions of Piedmont and Tuscany, it is now emerging as an area making high-quality wines for a good value. By investing in this medium-high price range, Collevite is showing the full potential of this region and is putting once again Marche in the world's wine map. Given the great quality/price, there are interesting opportunities ahead to enter new and unexplored foreign markets. Let's hope to see these Marche wines in the shelves alongside other well-established wines. 

Semper Ad Maiora.    


Sunday, April 16, 2017


Having the 2004 Turriga Argiolas from Sardinia, in the wine cellar, I had to find a special occasion to open it. So when it came to choose a rich, full-bodied red for the Easter lunch, that included "roman style" fried lamb, I thought it would the right opportunity to open this special wine, made of Grenache, Carignano, Bovale and Malvasia Nera.

In the nose, it has aromas of dried plum and figs, tobacco and dark chocolate. Very intense and with predominant tertiary notes, including coffee and black pepper, in the mouth. It is big and rich, high in alcohol, and very concentrated. Good acidity (a sign that it can still age), smooth tannins and a quite long finish. An excellent wine, for special occasions, with a price around 60 euros.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Volcanic Wine Tasting: Ischia to Start Off!

Being a great fan of volcanic wines, I am excited to announce a volcanic wine tastings series, which involves travelling with the senses around the world discovering volcanic terroir.

The first wine that I review is from Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples. I have been there in the summer of 2015 and I visited the winery Casa D'Ambra, one of the oldest and largest estates in the island. Family-run, it produces terroir-driven white wines as Forestera, Frassitelli, and Biancolella, as well as reds as Aglianico and Per'e Palummo. Andrea D'Ambra supervises the whole production process and was able to bring back to life a one thousand year old vineyard to make the Vigna Dei Mille Anni, a full-bodied red with complexity, smoothness and good ageing potential.

Here is the review of the the wine:


Sunday, April 2, 2017


El Hierro is a peaceful island, little known outside of the Canary archipelago. Inhabitated by friendly and welcoming people, it offers several activities in contact with nature and away from mass tourism. I visited El Hierro with my sister for a week in December and it was a beautiful discovery. Here are some memories and things learnt from this special week:


Bodega Frontera is arguably the best winery in the island and among the best in the Canarian Archipelago. The wines here are truly unique and cannot be compared easily to other wine regions. I tried grapes never heard before which were brought originally by the Spaniards. I loved the red Barboso (smooth and round, with lots of black fruits and cassis notes) and for the whites Blanco Afrutado, with a bit of residual sugar, and the Blanco Seco for a dry aperitif wine. Very nice, knowledgable and friendly staff. 


There are different paths to go hiking in the central part of the island, whose landscape resembles a lot Scottish highlands. It was incredible to see how the countryside evolves as one drives around. One of the best hiking paths is the Llania, where we found also the Lauri Silva forest, a must-see! I have to thank my sister for pushing me to see it. The shortest path in Llania (4km) is easily doable and worthwhile. It leads you through a lot of widely different and stunning landscapes. 


One of the best things to do to enjoy local biodiversity is to go with a guide. Luckily, we met Ralf: a friendly and knowledgable German guide who showed us all the unique plants of the island and brought us to places with an amazing view on the Ocean. Tours can be done in English and are great to discover the beauty of the island! Visiting the Eco-Museum is also a great way of learning about the unique biodiversity of the island. There, we saw the original village of the indigenous people (Bimbaches) and also learnt about the preservation of the rare giant lizard of El Hierro. 


El Hierro might not be the most famous destination for foodies, but if you know where to go it will not disappoint. For breakfast we tried the Panderia Santiago and, in particular, a sweet called Estrella cabello de angelo which is filled with a pumpkin marmalade. La Pasada, ten minutes away from the capital Valverde, offers seafood and meaty dishes with a good quality price. Stunning view from the dining room. Goat cheese is a local delicacy, mosty made at Isora, in the centre of the island. The mojo sauces, typical of the Canary Islands, are a must too. They vary in spices and are used troughout the meal! 


This is the most important tree in the island as its history is fascinating and involves the encounter of Spaniards and indigenous people. This laurel tree was the main source of water for the Bimbaches as it could retain water for the whole island. Destroyed by a hurricane in the 17th century, it was replented only in the mid-20th century for remembrance. Still, this place is full of legends and mystery, that the guide there explained to us in detail. 



The view on the coastline is simply impressing and beautiful, especially at sunset. Often you will find public pools or protected beaches where to sunbathe. However, being in the middle of the Atlantic, this is not the ideal place for going swimming because of the waves!


This island has local craftsmen with incredible skills. During a tour of the island with Ralf we met an old woman that is making amazing textile made of wool!  


El Hierro offers amazing views on the Atlantic. You will find many miradors, or viewpoints, in all parts of the island. We always brought a camera and enjoyed the view. 



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Julien Miquel, Founder of Social Vignerons, On Wine Apps and E-Commerce

I recently had the opportunity to interview Julien Miquel, the founder of internationally acclaimed wine blog Social Vignerons. Here he gives us some insight and his point of view on the fascinating world of wine apps and e-commerce in the wine industry.

Julien Miquel

Q- When did you first get the idea of starting Social Vignerons and how did it change since its creation?

A-Early 2014. While living in New Zealand in a job that was getting too narrow for me, I needed an outlet to share my passion for wine and knowledge with the rest of the world. So I started to build the website and launched Social Vignerons in December 2014. From a blogging hobby, it’s become a lifestyle, sharing wine content and passion every day on social media and other digital platforms. It’s also on its way to become a viable business, helping wine producers share their story through digital marketing and quality content.

The Wine Blog

Q-Do you think that in the following years e-commerce will challenge the traditional way of buying wines in a shop or supermarket? 

A-Of course. Online wine sales have been growing for nearly twenty years now, and everyone can see how e-commerce is disrupting many industries, one after the other. It is happening now for wine too, slowly but surely. All sorts of products are being bought online nowadays. It is simply a more convenient way of shopping and saves everyone’s number 1 asset in life: time. So virtually, and practically, the web is the best place to select your next bottle of wine. The only downside is that you cannot try it beforehand. But most places that sell wine do not offer you to taste the wine before you’ve paid for it either!

Wine-Searcher: Leading Web Search Engine for Wine Lovers

Q-What do you think could be the reasons behind the recent boom in on-line sales of wines? 

A- The online platforms that make the effort of offering a good wine selection and give useful information about the wines (such as good online wine merchants, or wine apps with a solid community of tasters) provide more value to the consumer that most wine shops. Prices are often competitive as well because online wine merchants sometimes have the advantage of volume AND they carefully observe the markets with tools such as wine-searcher, making sure to be competitive. Better service + good price = growth.

Wine E-Commerce

Photo Credit: WineNews.

Q- Is there more consumers' confidence now towards shipping of wines and on-line purchasing? 

A- Of course, as consumers are getting used to ordering more online with quality customer service, buying wine through the web becomes more and more natural. This has also gone together with the wine’s quality getting very significantly more consistent over the past 20 years since Google has changed our lives. Hardly do you ever pick a bottle of wine today only to find out that it is very badly made and tastes awful! Shipping is most generally not a problem, outside of hot summer periods. Serious online wine merchants don’t ship in the heart of summer without taking the appropriate precautions.

Q- Do you see the expansion of platforms as Ebay and Amazon in the wine trade as a positive development for the wine industry? 

A- For the industry as a whole, I am not sure! Disruptivity means a few middle-man’s jobs will be lost, in distribution, sales, and retail. But more direct-to-consumer sales would mean that producers would get a better margin on their sales, which would in turn allow them to invest more and quicker in their production methods, therefore improve further the quality of their wines. Eventually, consumers would get better wines. If consumers AND producers are happier, I would consider this as “a positive development for the wine industry’. That said, Ebay and Amazon specifically are here to help and serve consumers access products at better prices, but they will not necessarily help producers as well in the process! What they do allow though, is the development of more niche markets. And a big part of the wine industry is a market of niches.

Amazon Wine Commercial 

Photo credit: CNET.

Q- What sort of changes might they bring to the wine trade? 

A-They may allow more wine producers to sell more wine themselves, directly to consumers. The wineries that will combine these new platforms of distribution with good digital marketing strategies may win markets.

Q- Can Ebay and Amazon correctly inform the consumers about the complexity of the wines and terroir? 

A- Honestly, I don’t think they can. Many other platforms such as quality websites that have accumulated information and data for many years, or some good wine apps, are much more advanced in this process. Ebay and Amazon specifically will never catch up, and it would be too costly for them to do so. I don’t think it will make much business sense for them to invest in building wine content in the short term. As we know, a big part of their model relies on affiliation rather.

Ebay Wine Shop

Photo credit: Business Insider.

Q- Do you think that apps as Vivino could play a major role in influencing consumers’ decisions when purchasing wines? 

A-Yes, absolutely. My feeling is that we are only starting to see this. I think Vivino has just very recently started to have accumulated enough quality data, a big-enough user base, and enough consumer reviews about enough wines for everyone to start seeing the value it can bring to consumers. The amount of consumer review data available in Vivino is truly outstanding. As more and more people realize you can actually rely reasonably safely on a large community’s opinion to select your wine, more and more consumers will do. But making this information visible and standout on a crowded market takes time. SEO (Search Engine Optimization --Ed.) will play a big part in it. And SEO takes time. Not many wine apps will win at this game.

Vivino: The Leading App on Tracking Wines

Photo credit: Xda Developers.

Q- Do you think that apps improve the overall wine lovers' experience?  

A-The good ones do. Being able to easily record your rating and reviews by simply taking a picture of the label is clearly useful. We’ve seen the success this functionality has brought to wine apps. Beyond that, wine apps with a real wine community behind them also allow us to share the experience with other wine lovers that are not physically with us as we’re tasting. In addition, most wine drinkers are happy to inform others about a particular bottle. They want to let others know when a wine is a good buy, and they are happy to help avoiding bad-tasting plonks. All of this only works for wine apps that can correctly and reliably identify an enormous amount of different wines, and match all wine reviews related to a specific product to the correct item, and this for everyone, wherever they scan a label. This is a very hard thing to do.

Q- Are they useful for informing consumers about the wine and share info with other wine lovers? 

A- I think they are. That said, no wine app will ever contain all useful information about all wines. There will always be informative technical facts and stories on producer’s websites, more detailed reviews on blogs, news on online magazines, pricing info at merchants, etc. So an app, a browser and a good search engine is what you need. Luckily, this is all available on our phones.

This interview was made for the Wine App Research Project, led by Gerard Spatafora and undertaken by the international MBA team at Bordeaux's Wine Institute of INSEEC Business School. This study aims at creating a white paper on wine apps and e-commerce in the wine industry.
For details see the website of the project.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cool Wines At VinoVision: The First Wine Fair of Its Kind

A wine fair about cool climate wines in Paris. Cool idea right? Just think that 80% of the white and sparkling wines of French AOPs are from from cool regions, so there is the potential to explore these regions further for the wine trade. That's why from the 12th to the 14th of February around 400 producers from Burgndy, Champagne, Jura, Lorraine, Savoie and Loire Valley reunited at Paris expo Porte De Versailles to participate in VinoVision, the first wine trade fair devoted to cool climate wines.

First edition means it's hard to get everyone interested. However, the fact that around 3.300 visitors from around the world were present means there is definitely an interest in this sector. The fair was pretty well organised, with several masterclasses and also an area, called the "Tasting Avenue", where one could freely sample the wines and then check on an app the price and location of the stand. Quite useful for the wine trade, indeed.

I met some excellent producers, including Domaine Taille Au Loup Jacky Blot, which I later visited during the wine tour of the Loire. I had the chance to meet the owners and really appreciate their philosophy. They are organic but they do not market that, rather focus on their own brand. That's I think the way to go because these days many producers are using the "organic wave" more as marketing tool than actual sign of distinction.What I loved about Jacky Blot was also their passion and true interest in terroir. Tasting so many different vintages, I could really appreciate the influence of the soil and the vintages. Their Chenin Blancs are really refreshing and I guess the real examples of cool climate wines.

Other producers that stand out include Bouvet, an excellent sparkling wine producer from Saumur. I really enjoyed their Rosé, fresh with strawberry notes, and the Rubis Excellence, lightly sweet red bubbles with red fruits notes, complexity and a perfect pairing for fruity desserts. Their whole portfolio is very interesting and provides great quality/price.

Other domaines that got my attention were:

1- Henri Bourgeois, Loire producer in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé who also makes great sauvignon blanc wine in New Zealand under the name Clos Henri.

2- The small family-run Champagne domaine Naudet et Fils, which makes an excellent limited edition Blanc De Blanc aged in oak and made from soils in Nogent L'Abbesse called "Extra-Terroir" that is fresh and mineral.

3- Famille Lieubeau, which makes a fine Muscadet called Voyage Extraordinaire which features unique labels referring to the novels written by French writer Jules Vernes. Finally some different and exciting labels!

4- Gamay/Pinot Noir Villa Burgundia was refreshing with red cherry notes and differed itself with a characteristic label.

Hopefully next edition we will also see new additions from other cool parts of the world!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Memories of A Wine Trip: Tasting Loire With Friends

It's time to reflect upon the amazing three days spent in the Loire with friends from my class.

1- The overall quality of the wines is very high and many wineries are eco-friendly. We visited all organic or biodynamic producers that really believe in making quality before making quantity, as well strongly believe in making wines that have low impact on the environment.

2- Terroir is key in the Loire. In particular, I was impressed by Taille Au Loup Jacky Blot, which we visited on the third day. Their focus on terroir is so strong that you will find differences between chenin blancs made from a few plots away. Soil composition, sun exposure and age of the vines all play a role in the creation of a huge diversity in their portfolio. I was impressed by their Cabernet Franc Mid-Pente, which shows aromas of red fruits, spices and herbaceous notes. Very complex and with a long finish.  We tried all of their 2015 range for the whites. All of the whites share a mouthwatering acidity. So fresh and zesty that made me feel like squeezing a lemon. Perfect examples of Chenin Blanc.

3. Hospitality is a virtue. All the producers that we visited welcomed us warmly to their wineries and we really felt like home. On the third day, Johan, the commercial manager of biodynamic producer Domaine Huet, made us feel like home though we were very late and he was quite sick. He made us try very old vintages and was really knowledgable about the export management. I would never thought that even an importer based in Rome, my hometown, would feature their wines. It was great to go through some great examples of terroir-driven wines with such a knowledgeable and friendly person as Johan.

4. Less winery visits is better than many. I realised that in order to fully appreciate the philosophy and quality of the wines it is best to visit no more than 4 wineries per day. Though we managed to do 5, I think it is best to spend several time at each winery and engage in conversations with the producers.

5. Tasting wine is more fun with friends. Sharing opinions about the wines and visiting the towns around the Loire was a lot of fun. Though professional tastings are more accurate, tastings made at the wineries with friends can lead to interesting conversations and exchanges on the styles of the wines and discussions, for example on whether organic and biodynamic are the future of wine of wine making. In this regard, I totally agree with Eddy Oosterlinck-Bracke, owner of Domaine de Juchepie, who believes that making high-quality wine is the number one priority, and making it sustainably is a great and important added value!

6- The landscape is stunningThough it rained for the whole 3 days, I really enjoyed the landscape and also the city of Saumur, where we stayed. While going for a run in the late afternoon in the area of the castle, I had the chance to admire the traditional landscape. A stunning view and one to remember, just like a postcard.

7- You can find very good foodIn particular, on the first day I was surprised to know that there were restaurants under caves that make great food and bread using a wood-fired oven. A must-try experience! Check out the review of my report on day 1 for details.

8- There were unexpected discoveries. On the third day it was great to see the connection with nature established by Thierry Germain, who is using horses at the vineyards at the Domaine Des Roches Neuves. The Franc De Pied 2015 made from ungrafted vines has high minerality and presents aromas of red cherries. A must try if you visit the winery, which also features an amazing underground cellar with very old vintages!