Gambero Rosso World Tour 2017/2018 step by step
From Seoul to Toronto, over thirty events to promote wine and Italian food around the world.
Focus: the United States and Asia
The summer slow-down coincides in our office with the peak of tastings for our new wine guide. It also offers us an opportunity to pull together the experiences of a particularly intense season of international events and to plan the itineraries of our new tours. Adding up the stops on our Tre Bicchieri, Roadshow and Vini d’Italia projects, and including special occasions and major international fairs, we hosted more than 30 events around the globe. Above and beyond official export numbers, we saw remarkable enthusiasm and curiosity about Italian wines, positive reactions that produce a domino effect. It is a brilliant moment for our labels. The spotlight is moving towards less familiar zones within Italy, at the same time that a wide range of labels are appearing even in countries that our producers have not fully explored. We came across lively wine lists in Hanoi and carefully selected bottles in restaurants in Cape Town. Italian restaurateurs lead the way, stimulating interest and developing their clients’ appreciation of, for example, the powerful tannin of a Sagrantino. Many new places are opening. Excitement is building around the culture of true Neapolitan pizza, something new that attracts growing numbers of clients and investors. Excellent pizza is often accompanied by substantial lists of Italian wines, often far deeper than those that would be found back home.
The guide we decided to dedicate to this phenomenon is aimed at describing the pathways Italian cucina has taken in the world. We showcase not only the best wines tasted for the Vini d’Italia guide, but also those places that stand out in a world full of imitation-Italian and insipid flavors. There’s plenty of fun to be had out there. Top Italian Restaurants will be available in English on the Gambero Rosso site at the end of October.
Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the key moments during our last tour. In New York, ‘enthusiastic’ was an understatement to describe the 1,800 operators who found their way through Manhattan’s streets, during a brutal snowstorm, to wait on line to greet the 200 Italian producers who had shown up for the occasion. Participants, and therefore the organizers, were especially satisfied by the event in Los Angeles, which is really many cities within a vast metropolitan area. The event will certainly be repeated in our next itinerary. In February, to the usual trio of Chicago, San Francisco and New York, we will add Miami, Houston and Seattle: we’ll hold the eleventh edition of the Roadshow in the shadow of the Space Needle. The top market in the world for Italian wine should soon provide even better results.
Moving on to Northern Europe, Stockholm and Copenhagen are two time-honored destinations, markets that are consistently solid and demanding. Denmark is particularly interested in wines that come from healthy, sustainable viticulture. Given the climate and the range of cuisines in the country, the demand is largely for reds. The nearest stops in terms of geography, Switzerland and Germany, point up a paradox. Often our wineries decide to focus on another part of the planet and turn away when they encounter problems with our neighbors, such as the average price point in Germany. The event in Munich, like the one which will once again start off ProWein, is a key moment for getting a feel for the market and for seizing new opportunities.
Speaking of fairs, after participating in all the principal ones in the sector, we hold an opinion opposite to the most common viewpoint. Vinitaly, the Verona fair, is in a strong position on the international chess board and is among the most vibrant. We saw that problems traditionally associated with the Italian fair were shared by various wine fairs around the world.
Moving on to the Middle East, on the program is a stop in Dubai, where fried pizza prepared on the spot by Enzo Coccia and paired with Tre Bicchieri wines is still a vivid memory. After years of excess, restaurateurs seem to have embarked on a more sustainable path, with a return to regional Italian cucina and ample wine lists, despite the duopoly on the importation front. Soon, in the principal node in the Emirates, Massimo Bottura and important Italian pizzerias will open.
Dubai is also the gateway to Asia where nine stops are on the roster between October and May. We can divide them into three groups. Bangkok, Seoul and Beijing are markets that have already emerged from the embryo phase, and experienced an unmistakable leap in terms of both quality and knowledge of Italian wines. Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong are in an even more advanced phase thanks to a massive presence of Western consumers and traders. The capital city of Taiwan is perhaps the easiest to approach and the most drawn to things Italian in this moment. Finally, Singapore and Tokyo, with a second Japanese stop in Osaka: these are knowledgeable markets that love Italy, where sophisticated drinkers are inclined to spend on top quality wines. Japan is, with good reason, one of the markets that Italian producers love. The country has consumers of sensibility and precision, with trained palates that gratify winemakers who put their hearts and souls into their bottles.
And finally, our tour will close in Canada, the fourth market for Italian wine. The country is developing a special connection with Italy, with many operators who have decided to devote themselves to our labels. Vancouver will be followed by Toronto on June 8, the last stop on the tour.
Before we close, here’s a last lesson we learned in these years of taking off and checking in. We have seen extraordinary palates become totally ecstatic over wines such as Lambrusco, Falanghina, Grechetto and Franciacorta as well as Etna. We’ve seen aged Trebbiano d’Abruzzo uncorked, at the table, for sums close to $1,000. Many other wines, overlooked at home, also sell for insane sums. We mention, almost in chorus, our cultural superiority, our 1,000 grape varieties, but do we really believe, especially we Italian wine journalists, that these wines can hold their own against the greatest wines in the world? Or do we suffer from an inferiority complex and a certain degree of excessive regard for what’s foreign? To fully understand our own country and its territory, this continuous travel is essential for both those who produce wine and those who write about it every day.