The beginning of my wine club started pretty organically. I am a local guide and wine educator and I am constantly taking groups throughout Tuscany and explaining to them all about Italian wines,the variatals and the rich and diverse terroirs we have throught our beautiful boot;)
I also do culinery tours around the city sampling some of the delicious delicacies Florence has to offer.
Many of my clients are not very familiar with Italian wines or have some knowledge but do not feel confident when choosing an Italian wine. Clients that are used to drinking new world wines are confused by the concept of ordering a bottle based on the production zone instead of the varietals. For example in the US (and other parts of the world) you would ask for the varietals such as a chardonnay, Cabernet or Merlot whereas in the old world of wine making here in Italy you would ask for the production zone or region such as Chianti or Barolo or in France Bordeaux and Champagne.
This means you need to know the blends of these specific areas. Here in Italy we have very strict regulations under our consorzium that includes no pesticides, no chemicals, minimum aging requirements, production limit and of course the recipe to name a few.
So to understand an Italian wine you need to do some very rigorous homework and drink lot's and lot's of ...WINE;)
It helps to understand the specific blend that the wine maker has chosen for that label, for example with Chianti you can have two different wineries right next to each other and really love one estates wine and the other may not be to your liking. This is because maybe one producer has chosen to use 100% Sangiovese grape and the other may choose to use a blend of Cabernet and Merlot for the extra 20-30% allowed by the consorzium. It is also interesting to try different wines from the same producer because they will greatly vary in aroma , age and bouquet, this is why it is also good to do a vertical tasting to help find which blend or vintage you may prefer in general.
These are just some of the basics, however it can be quite intimidating and confusing to someone who would like to enter into the world of Italian wines which are now considered some of the best wines in the world but does not know where or how to begin.
Unfortunately most of the Italian wines you may find at the supermarket under a $40.00 price point are not the wines that the Italians are drinking, these are large productions producing millions of bottles a year to export internationally, a portion of these are focused on quantity over quality. The smaller producers, many of which do not export or if they do it is a limited amount so they become considered fine wines with higher price points. This is in part due to fee's for import/export, transportation, tax's, marketing and restaurant or store markup so you are looking at a minimum of 3.5% markup on the bottle.
Many small production estates have chosen to avoid this issue and sell directly online using delivery providers such as MBE or DHL to name a few. This way you can receive your wine straight from the vineyard to your door shipped in specific conditions for wine delivery which will arive to you within 25-30 working days. Instead of paying almost four times the price of the original bottle you will pay aproximately €8.00 or lower depending on the quantity.
This is where I come in. I search out for my clients small producers that have little to no production internationally focusing on quality instead of quantity with reasonable price points. The suprising thing is that these small production vineyards you can still (for the moment) get great quality wine for under €40.00.
I usually like to start with a broad selection of some of the most important wines here in Italy such as Chianti, Chianti classcio, a Riserva, Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Bolgheri and some whites from the northern region and maybe throw in some prosecco or Francia corta! Along with this I will provide tasting notes, cellaring recommendations and food pairing along with information about the winery. This way if you choose to have an event with friends or maybe a romantic dinner as some prefer, you can plan and engage with your guests or guest;)
From there, you can begin to get an understanding of which regions and blends you prefer and we can grow your knowledge and palate focusing on a specific wine or you can just decide to keep rolling the roulette and trying a wide array of fabulous selections!
The difference I have from other wine clubs is that I am not a single vineyard estate or local wine merchant, so I am not as limited. I work with various merchants with whom I see what interesting finds they have discovered, they will always have different preferences and ideas from their competitors. I do the same with vineyards in the region being that I am always in the wine country with clients talking to producers. This way I can carefully put together selections that are new and exciting for my clients.
Drinking a great bottle of wine should be a fun and exciting inexperience and I want my treasured clients to feel like they are getting a small piece of Italy delivered straight to their home.
This is my passion!