Paul Wagner is a renowned expert of wine marketing I had the pleasure to interact with during my long trip in California. There is not any need to present him in California and even abroad, for example here in Italy where he often comes as consultant. For those who do not know him I can briefly introduce him as founder and president of Balzac communication agency located in Napa (Napa Valley, California), instructor at the Culinary Institute of America and at the Napa College (where I have attended his Wine Marketing&Sales course some years ago). I esteem Paul very much because he manages to combine his competence with an incisive communicative approach based on a great balance between theory and practical experience, uncommon talent.
According to Paul, Wine Toursim is the most effective form of direct marketing for the wineries because the”client” who visits your winery will surely absorb your message better than anyone else. But it is necessary to keep in mind that the wine tourist is a tourist first and then a wine consumer: they are not interested in long presentations or too technical tastings, they only look for “memorable experiences”. The key is the collaboration with other wineries and entities of the tourist sector.
So, beyond the cultural resistence of the “Bel Paese” (Italy), this is exactly what the Movimento Tursimo del Vino (italian Wine Tourism Association) is doing through its regional delegations. I have recently had the chance to discuss about that with Violante Gardini, president of the tuscan delegation, as well as to take a short tour to discover more about Valdichiana area, a tour that I like to rebuild as an example of a territorial experience including wine, food, art and history.
The first step is the super eco-friendly Salcheto winery in Montepulciano area: organic, without artificial illumination and with a vertical garden (to keep cool the inside). I appreciate their effort and the wines even more starting from their “basic” Vino Nobile. I had the vintage 2014 that although its difficulties has donated vivacity to an already fine and very enjoyable wine.
Then, the tour of Montepulciano old town to breathe its history and its charm and so, in a 2 minutes walk, we got into the historical Contucci winery, with its magnificent undergroud cellars. The wines are unique as, at once: complex, intense but also easy-drinking: an extraordinary result. Those rich paths are also supported by the local body which promotes the local red wine Vino Nobile and the products of the area (called Strada del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano e dei sapori della Valdichiana senese). Same for the local Consorzio (del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, more focused on wines’ promotion) whose project deserves a story apart to be properly adressed; at Consorzio in the Fort of Montepulciano, I loved a light lunch based on a special local recipe: ‘ribollita’ (soup of bread and vegetables).
La Braccesca winery has been another step: it is the company owned by the famous Antinori family that produces in Montepulciano and Cortona areas and which carries all territory in terms of promotion too. Here I had the occasion to taste their wines well paired to local recipes but only after a cooking class to learn how to make the local hand made pasta “pici” (famous also for their UNESCO nomination) and a presentation of the super “aglione” a giant garlic (it can reach 1kg of weight!): sweeter and easy to digest compared to the “common” one, it is more expensive but very special for sure!
Yet: Dei, family business completely inspired to substainability both in the vineyard and in the cellar characterized by a geothermic system as well as elegant spaces designed by the artistic touch of the the owner, ms Caterina Dei who is also an artist indeed. This is why I had a suggestive wine tasting with a special background music: her music (please find here the direct link to listen to it). The wines are greatly interesting with a very good value for money and, in particular, the reserve “Bossona” (2011) shows a wonderful balance between the full taste, the velvety texture and the intensity.
Finally I have been welcomed by the young spirit of the young winery Baldetti, in Cortona Area: a family business where the distinguish product is surely represented by Syrah that I find very good especially after the comparative tasting of 2 vintages: 2012 and 2013 that show a coherent juicy character but also a great potential for ageing especially the 2013 which actually needs time to find its perfect balance. I have also been impressed by their sparkling wine, Metodo Classico, very well done. I anticipate that I will write more about this special and small area, Cortona, to reveal the best Syrah of the territory.