Rinascimento Rising

Here in the Unites States we are fortunate to be able to buy and enjoy wines from around the world thus allowing us to travel to various countries in the comfort of our own home via our wine glass.   This is often made possible by importers who seek out overseas producers build relationships with them and then bring over wines that they believe they can sell in the United States market.

It sounds like a fun job travelling to exotic locals and discovering new wines but it is important to remember that most  importers are small business owners who work hard at what they do.   After finding wines to bring into the United States and after securing proper licenses, permits etc, many importers must then seek out and build relationships with restaurants and retail stores in order to get them to distribute and carry the wines they have imported. Also, they often they have to front the costs for the wines to the producers before the wines are sold so relationships and reputation become of utmost importance.

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#Winestudio is a weekly chat on Twitter run by Tina Morey of Protocol Winestudio around a different theme.  Participants taste and discuss wine, wine regions and the wine business for the purpose of educating themselves and others.   For three weeks in September we learned from Italian wine importer Justin Gallen of Rinascimento Wine Company about what it means to be an importer and distributor and the importance of building relationships.

Justin studied Italian literature in college.  After college he started in the wine business as a cellar rat and then after deciding the winery side of the wine world was not for him, he worked in a wine shop which he contemplated buying and running as his own business.   Instead, Justin realized he could combine his love of Italy with his love of wine and become an importer of Italian wines so he took a leap of faith and started his own import business.  According to Justin, the way he picks the wineries he works in Italy with is that he must like the wines and find the winemakers cool or as they say in Italian “in gamba”

Thanks to Justin, we had the opportunity to taste four of the wines that he imports.  The wines we tasted were:

2013 Agricola Cirelli Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo  $18 This wine from the south of Italy  is a 100% organic rose made from Montepulciano grapes.    It is a beautiful dark pink color and has great acidity and juicy flavors of cherry that are rounded out with tannins.  This wine is tasty, well structured and can and should be enjoyed with food.  Interestingly, although this wine is a rose, it is in a green bottle which we learned is because when the winemaker first began production he could only afford one kind of bottle for all of his wines  and he has kept that tradition to this day.   The vineyard has free range geese and in addition to wine olive oil, flour, pasta, garlic and fig pastes are made on the farm.

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 2010 Musto Carmelitano Aglianico del Vulture DOC “Serra Del Prete”  $20 This medium bodied wine from Basilicata in southern Italy  is made from organic grapes.  It is fermented and aged in stainless steel & cement vats   It has high tannins and requires decanting.  Once  this wine opens up it has rich flavors of tobacco, dark fruit, tea, spice and black licorice and like most Italian wines is best  enjoyed with food.  The wine is made from organic grapes that are hand picked and it is unfiltered to highlight its natural flavors.

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2011 G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba DOC  $23  This wine from Piemonte in northern Italy is a dark purple color with amazing black cherry fruit flavor balanced with nice acidity  earthiness and light hints of spice.   This wine is aged with some new oak and is the perfect wine for Fall!  It would be great paired with a hearty meat pasta.  GD Vajra is family run and they practice sustainable farming with every phase of winemaking done by hand including traditional pruning and trellising.

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2009 G. D. Vajra Barolo DOCG “Albe”  $38  This wine  is made from Nebbiolo grapes and is what Piemonte is known for.  Although it is light in color, it is big and bold in flavor.  It has substantial  tannins and nice structure & complexity.  This wine is a blend of grapes from three different vineyards at three different altitudes.  It is aged in Slovanian oak and will only improve and evolve with age.

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What this tasting demonstrated is the importance of relationships in the wine business and the fact that via importers you can find some great smaller production and or lesser known producers from overseas with great wines and great stories.

It also reinforced that enjoying a bottle of wine is not just about the taste of what is in the bottle itself (which is of course important) but also the importance of connecting with the story of the people who made the wine,  the story of how the importer found the winemaker and then the story of how that wine made its way to you the consumer.

So next time you open a bottle of imported wine consider the story of the winemaker, the importer and how the wine got to you, because that will only enhance your experience of enjoying and drinking that wine!



Justing Galwine brokerage

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