Vinitaly is always an exhausting but very rich trip for an Italophile wine blogger like myself.
But this year, I had a truly unforgettable Vinitaly moment when I got to spend some time with the new Franciacorta president, Vittorio Moretti (above), the Italian entrepreneur and construction mogul and the owner of Bellavista, one of Franciacorta’s leading wineries. His group also owns the Franciacorta estate Contadi Castaldi and his wineries, together with Guido Berlucchi and Ca’ del Bosco, produce what are the most well known wines from the appellation.
After he and I met with consortium big shots at the consortium stand, where I found him to be very easy going and approachable (when we met, for example, he immediately insisted that I address him using the informal address in Italian; a sweet and appreciated gesture of largesse from one of Italy’s leading business figures), he offered to take me on a stroll across the fairgrounds to visit the Bellavista stand.
And that’s where things got interesting!
In part because of his standing in the Italian wine community and in part because of the fact that his firm has built more than 300 wineries across Italy, as he told me, HE KNOWS EVERYONE!
Or should I say, everyone knows him.
It must have taken us 45 minutes to reach his family’s stand. We spent 20 minutes alone with Fausto Maculan — the famed producer of desert wines from Breganze in the Veneto. He spied Mr. Moretti walking to across the pavilion and insisted that we stop to taste with him and his top lieutenants. I’ve visited the Maculan winery and I believe that it was built by Mr. Moretti’s company.
Mr. Moretti talked to me at length about he is investing heavily in his wineries and the marketing of his products. And we also tasted his “Super Tuscan” line of wines, which impressed me with their freshness and food-friendliness.
He spoke of how he plans to bring a new “managerial” and “entrepreneurial” spirit and approach to the consortium and its members.
Considering how successful his wines have been in Italy and in the U.S., it’s hard not to think that he’s already got a winning formula in mind.
When we finally made it to the Bellavista stand, after he stopped to shake the hands of literally twenty or so well-wishers along the way (including more than one Italian wine luminary), there was a line to get into the multi-room tasting space.
A team of sommeliers and sales agents were working the various rooms and you could feel the electricity among the guests — wine professionals and consumers.
We retired to one of the private tasting rooms where Mr. Moretti poured a new cross-vintage blend of Franciacorta for his Swiss sales team. I liked the wine a lot and it was amazing to watch Mr. Moretti work the room as he discussed his wine.
Franciacorta has everything to lose and to gain. It’s an “undiscovered country,” to borrow the Shakespearean expression, with a story that has yet to be written in the U.S.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Mr. Moretti has in store for his tenure as president. But there’s no doubt that the consortium is in good hands. Mr. Moretti’s got the goods for sure…