This is the first in a series of short profiles of Italian wine importers active in the Australian market. You can find the website for Mondo Imports here. Answers are provided by Anthony D'Anna.
Q1 What is your business?
- Importers of fine wines from Italy.
Q2 How long have you been importing Italian wines into Australia?
- Four years.
Q3 How did your interest in Italian wines start?
- Our family have been in the wine business since 1963 and I think over time your palate evolves. I love Australian wine but my passion for Italian wine has grown over the years. My parents were born in Italy and I travel there every year. We thought could improve the selection available in Australia by bringing is some quite unique producers and increasing the offering currently available in Oz. For example, we have a sparkling from Piero Benevelli in Piemonte called Freisa about to arrive. Over time, there has been only one importer who has imported this variety. These are the sort of wines I love to import.
Q4 What kind of Italian wines do you focus on in your portfolio and why? - We cover most of Italy but with never more than two producers from the same region. A strong focus for us is Southern Italy which offers unique indigenous varieties and fantastic price points.
Q5 What Italian wines sell well out of your portfolio at the moment?
- Most sell through really well. With Hoddles Creek Estate in the family, we have applied the same pricing philosophy so how we import wines. If you had to pick the big mover, it would be Gran Sasso from Abruzzo and Pipoli from Basilicata with sales of these two brands pushing 200,000 bottles imported into Oz a year.
Q6 What Italian wines do you find hardest to sell in Australia?
- Funnily enough, Chianti. Brunello is always hard and sometimes it is hard to see the value in it.
Q7 What do you think is the place of Italian wines in Australia, and is this changing?
- I think Italian wines are forging a fantastic niche market through the importation of indigenous varieties. Up until a couple of years ago, the likes of Chianti and Brunello were getting the airplay. But now it is the likes of Grillo, Nero Mascalese, Aglianico, Greco di Tufo, etc that is turning heads and that is where the interest is. It also pushes Italy out of the mainstream and makes people realise that Italy isn't as straightforward as it might seem.
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?
- I think it is a great thing as it creates interest in Italian varietals. I don't think we can replicate the wines of Italy in Australia but we are contributing to the variety by showing the world 'our take' on their wines. Sangiovese in Australia will never be like Chianti but that is not to say that it doesn't have its place as a fantastic wine style in the Australian market.
Q9 Greatest Italian wine moment?
- Taking a bottle of 1958 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco that we brought along to La Libera in Alba last year.
Q10 What Italian wines are you most likely to drink at home?
- Chianti Riserva, Nero Mascalese, Barbaresco and Barolo.