The journey to witness the birth of Paradox wines.
After the traditional long flight to Europe, I landed in the balmy 38 degrees heat of Milan: welcome to Northern Italy! I travelled on to Verona and was collected upon my arrival by the charming Matteo Fasoli of Fasoli wines, who ushered me to my luxurious accommodation; a beautiful 3 bedroomed house, overlooking the valley and very aptly named Relais:
Dinner was provided in a local restaurant overlooking the valley and specialising in traditional grillades specifically Fiorentini’s. The food, wines and service were just delightful.
We started the next day with the compulsory wine tasting of Fasoli range of organic wines and a visit to some of the certified organic vineyards and winemaking facilities. Our partnership was sealed over a private dinner in the soon-to-be-opened luxurious resort which will comprise 8 private rooms.
The following day, we were off to Lombardy to meet the jovial and vivacious Luca from the Ca Di’Frara winery. Tasting was conducted and a range of produce selected including a Riesling and Pinot Nero. Lombardy is one of Italy’s first planted areas. A walk in 39 degrees heat was undertaken to visit the vineyards and get a feel for the terroir.
Next was Piedmont: the land of fog and tartufo. One cannot help but marvel at the Piedmont region, blessed with great food and amazing wines. The vineyards I selected are Amalia which is located in the Montforte d'alba area. It’s a relative newcomer to the Barolo district, and the wines are vibrant and contemporary. We met Renato Corino in the La Morra area. Outstanding wines, very traditional family, no website, no tasting notes, in fact no marketing collateral at all. Our partnership was consummated over a 1990 Rocche vineyard Barolo; a sublime vintage. Finally, we visited Cascina Cucco in the Serralunga area - a terrific range of wines which we will also represent.
To commemorate 3 days of tasting, we had dinner in the township of Alba, arguably one of the best meals encountered during this trip. Our senses were delighted with a 7 course truffle degustation menu served with matching wines, primarily Barolo and Cru Barolo’s. The experience was simply divine and of absolute decadence. www.hostariamuseum.it.
Tuscany was to follow. Tourists were everywhere, being peak season, and traffic remarkably hazardous. A lethal combination of local and non-rule obedient Europeans ...yet we somehow managed to survive that chaos and arrive at our various destinations. We settled on a magnificent Chianti Classico producer, Rocca del Castagnoli. This beautiful estate is located in Gaiole, perhaps Tuscany’s highest elevation. A fantastic estate with different canopies and traditional technics in use. Accommodation is available in the old castle; the rooms are well appointed and luxurious.
Marche was our next destination, the land of Verdicchio's; a magnificent region with high elevation and cooler climate 31 degrees. We meet with Balisario winery (Matelica), a fairly large group but one of sound repute and a proven track record. We visited the various vineyards and a small selection of wines was purchased to add to our portfolio.
Despite all the racing around we had already done in the last few days, we still found time to visit the famous racing track of Imola near Bologna (Emilia Romagna), then we were once again on the road and on our way to the Tre Monti vineyards.
The Tre Monti are a lovely family, very proud of their heritage, and the winery is in a beautiful, picturesque setting. They are experimenting with no sulphur in two specific wines. Lunch was served after the tasting and business concluded with Sergio the Patromogno (the patriarch) and his two sons.
In summary, a very exciting and exhilarating two weeks. Although I’ve been in business for many years, it confirmed to me that business is not always about a fancy power point presentation, instead, a mutual feeling of comfort and respect, common objectives and overall passion for the land and the gifts it bears us.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting some overwhelmingly generous people, who opened their homes to me and entrusted me with their livelihood. I also learnt not to rely on GPS - a source of many frustrations and I fully comprehended why driving in Italy is commonly known as ‘Russian roulette’.
This is the start of Paradox Wines’ journey: over 300 wines were tasted and some 2,500kilometres travelled. Whilst we are at the beginning of our journey, I am immensely excited and inspired to bring the best of Italy to Australia. Salute!
Our quest is never ending and since then, we have had subsequent trips to Italy and France sourcing Champagne Palmer, Robert Cantin Sancerre, Rose 83 Cotes de Provence, Cantine Galasso, Canal Grando and there is more to come...
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