When he speaks publicly in Italy and abroad, the great Italian winemaker and genius marketer Angelo Gaja often talks about the importance of “Made in Italy” brands’ robust presence in the domestic Italian market.
I’ve had the good fortune to hear him speak on a number of occasions and I’ve always been impressed by how he points to the Campari umbrellas that dot Rome’s urban landscape as a great example of this.
There’s no denying it: Any tourist who’s ever visited the Italian capital associates Campari with her/his time in Italy.
And Gaja’s own domestic presence is equally impressive. I’ve heard countless Americans tell the story of how they tasted one of Gaja’s wines in Italy and I’ve seen beefy offerings of his labels on the wine lists of some of Italy’s best restaurants.
I was reminded of this last night when I sat down for dinner at a restaurant in Montalcino in the heart of Italy’s red wine country.
There was an entire page devoted to Franciacorta and our host, a woman who lives and works here, remarked that “they go crazy for Franciacorta in Montalcino.”
Last year, when I visited Montalcino, one of Italy’s most popular destinations for wine and food tourists, I had a similar experience: I was served a glass of Franciacorta in a workaday bar in the historic center of the town after I asked for a glass of sparkling wine (I was expecting to be offered a glass of Prosecco!).
Last night, before we shifted to Chianina steak and 2011 Brunello, the Bellavista Satèn 2009 paired wonderfully with my ribollita (Tuscany’s classic bread, beans, and chard soup).
It occurred to me that after all, even the Tuscans can’t live by Sangiovese alone. And it also occurred to me that more and more Americans are exposed to Franciacorta every year when the visit the region in search of their own Tuscan sun.
If Mr. Gaja is right, this is surely a good sign for the future of Franciacorta in the minds’ of American wine and food lovers.
They don’t even need the umbrellas!