The truth is, there were some misses among the hits, but this fact probably won’t dent the enthusiasm of the winemakers, some desperate to break into the UK market (or any market, in some cases). However, this is a tough proposition, according to some.
Capua Winery produces a small selection of excellent wines, not least the textured Fiammante Cabernet Franc (2007) and the Dolce Amore, which, were it not for the glass and the watery consistency, I’d swear I was chewing a pineapple.
An even smaller producer — just 20,000 bottles a year — is Fontechiara, which still manages to export a reasonably profitable amount of wine in China and the US. The owner was an accountant before he swapped spreadsheets for terroir, and his two reds bear testament to the passion behind his reinvented lifestyle. More remarkable than the trick of bottling sophisticated liquid pepper is the price: it’s just €7 a bottle.
The Consorzio Produttori Vini Manduria operates on a much grander scale, managing to ship an enormous amount of wine from Puglia in the heel of Italy’s Primitivo region. This is a grape that’s usually cut with other grapes, a favourite of mine being Da Luca, a blend of Primitivo and Merlot I usually buy from Waitrose. This is the pure grape, though, and I simply couldn’t resist sampling a few sips to wash down a humble cracker. Here’s hoping the producer can find a reliable UK importer, having been ‘let down’ in the past, and can express itself outside of the so-far successful confines of Germany and Sweden.
Here in the UK, we can pay £15-19 for a ‘reasonable’ bottle of wine at a ‘reasonable’ restaurant, a startling fact when you hear how many of these fine wine producers are struggling to find UK importers simply because of the ridiculous costs involved. Roberto Ligasacchi of Fontemorsi describes how a €4 bottle of 30% Sangiovese may sell for €11 in an Italian restaurant, yet could cost £25 in Britain. It makes it hard for the producer to find an outlet that will take anything more than its cheapest wine, so the UK consumer often misses out on the real quality, such as the 100% Sangiovese I tasted. Better markets seem to be Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Include the US here, too.
Yet, all of this is in the shadow of the pubs, bars and restaurants that voice their concerns for their trade at the expense of the ultra-inexpensive supermarkets. I can sympathise, yet can’t help wanting to side with the supermarkets, as they seem to offer better wine at more reasonable prices for you and I.
Are you a wine producer struggling to find a UK importer? What obstacles are you facing? What advice can you share with other wine producers? Please leave a comment below.
Shaun Weston is editor of FoodBev.com. You can contact him here, or read his blog here.
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