Thursday, November 18, 2010

Importer profile - Global Fine Wines

This is the second in a series of profiles of Italian wine importers. Today, we have Global Fine Wines, with answers supplied by Robert Zalums. You can find out more about them, including their Italian wine portfolio by going here. The photograph is Rob (l) talking and tasting Italian wines with Nicolas Belfrage (r) MW and author of excellent books on Italian wine, including Barolo to Valpolicella: The Wines of Northern Italy.

Q1 What is your business?
- We import and wholesale distribute premium wines from Italy and other regions (including Australia) to fine wine retailers, top restaurants and cafes.

Q2 How long have you been importing Italian wines into Australia?
- 5 Years.

Q3 How did your interest in Italian wines start?
- Before I got into importing and wholesale distribution of wine, I was in IT and mad keen about all things wine. First positive Italian experience was attending an Antanori tasting that John Osbeston organised a very long time ago. I bought a bunch of wine for my private cellar and quickly acquired a taste. Initially I only drank Tuscan red wine, until I discovered Gaja Barbaresco wines and realised there was much more to Italy than Tuscan (e.g. Chianti) reds. Then working in Europe for three years massively broadened my appreciation of the vast range of exciting Italian taste sensations. I was hooked! I loved the diversity and uniqueness of Italian wine. Especially when combined with food where magically the food would taste better and indeed the wine would taste better still.

Q4 What kind of Italian wines do you focus on in your portfolio and why?
- None especially, we enjoy the range and diversity. Having said that, all but one of our wines are from Central and Northern Italy.

Q5 What Italian wines sell well out of your portfolio at the moment?
- The Pinot Grigio wines are the hottest closely followed by the Soave.

Q6 What Italian wines do you find hardest to sell in Australia?
- The most expensive ones. This may be partly due to economic factors.

Q7 What do you think is the place of Italian wines in Australia, and is this changing?
- Italian wines, perhaps more than any other, broaden the minds of Australian wine enthusiasts. This is because they are so much different to Australian wines. If variety is the spice of life, then Italy delivers it in spades to Aussie wine drinkers. They are also helping Aussie’s learn about making (and enjoying) wines with more complexity, new grape varieties and enhance the enjoyment of food. All this without spending much more than on a local product. Is this changing? Not yet. But I think home grown Aussie wines will continue to become ever more enjoyable because of the importing of Italian wines to this country.

Q8 Recent years have seen significant increases in the number and diversity of Australian wines made from Italian grape varieties. What are your thoughts on Australian wines made from Italian varieties?
- Brilliant! The Australian climate is well suited to the Italian varieties and in the right vineyards will produce beautiful wines in years to come. They will naturally be different to the same varietals from Italy, but perhaps one day just as great and offer diversity from the traditional French varieties we have grown for over a century.

Q9 Greatest Italian wine moment?
- Drinking a 1990 Gaja Sori Tilden Barbaresco with my wife in a 2 Michelan Star restaurant in Tuscany. We were long lunching with our two young (non-drinking) sons and were the only people in the restaurant. The magnificent food and the marvellous wine had a multiplying effect on our enjoyment. Never forget it.

Q10 What Italian wines are you most likely to drink at home?
- Reds: Mostly wines from Piemonte. I love the Nebbiolo (including Barbaresco and Barolo), Barbera, and for everyday drinking a Dolcetto. Whites: Probably Soave – love the stuff.

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