Leading the Italian invasion

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The giant Torres group signed a deal to distribute the wines of Casa Vinicola Zonin in China – and wasted no time in bringing out two of its key wine-makers to visit the country.

Image: Dr Antonio Cavallo (first from the left),
Alessandro Gallo (third from the left) with Torres staff

Executives at Torres see a bright future for Italian wines in the country; the personal touch, with wine-makers hosting dinners and attending seminars, has proved to be an important marketing tool. Hence the whistle-stop visit by Alessandro Gallo (right) of Chianti vineyard Castellano d’Albola and Dr Antonio Cavallo (left) of the Masseria Altemura vineyard in Puglia, who took in Beijing, Shanghai and the annual wine fair in Chengdu.

‘I think the market in China is becoming more and more mature and people are more and more sophisticated so we are now able to bring in the top Chiantis and little regions like Puglia in the south,’ says Damien Shee, deputy country head for Torres.

‘Consumers are more open and are discovering other regions; in the past it was only the top regions Bordeaux and Burgundy now they are starting into Italy, Rhone and Spain, they travel more and see these places.

‘The wines from Castello D’Albola and Masseria Altemura provide a good entry point, they are not that expensive, they start from about RMB120 up to RMB1,000, which gives us a spectrum from people who want to have a glass a day, or those who like to pull out a bottle during a nice dinner.’

Casa Vinicola Zonin has around 2,000 hectares of vineyards in Italy including Castello D’Albola, which has 150 hectares of vineyards that produce 800,000 bottles annually most of them Chianti Classic.

‘I will be telling people in China about the quality of the wine and the tradition of the area,’ says wine-maker Gallo. ‘A lot of money has been invested to grow the quality of the wine and the wellness of the estate. We call it the second Renaissance!’

Masseria Altemura, which produces 300,000 bottles annually, is in a region that also has a long wine-making pedigree, dating back to Greek times. That kind of history and tradition plays well in China where consumers are still learning about the world’s different regions and wine-making styles.

Among the wines Cavallo will introduce to Chinese oenophiles are Sasseo, made from the Primitivo grape and Negroamaro, made from the indigenous grape.

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