Francesco Versio is the winner of the 3rd edition of the Gambelli Award

His name is Francesco Versio, he will turn thirty in August, and he lives in Neive, in the province of Cuneo, where he has worked since 2011 as an oenologist for a prestigious winery, the Cantina Bruno Giacosa. Curiously enough, he combines the profession of oenologist (which he exercises after having obtained his Bachelor’s degree with thesis on the “Chromatic Profile of the Major White Wines from Langhe and Roero” and his Master’s degree with thesis on the “Development of a Method for Monitoring Mannoprotein Yields in Wines Aged Sur Lies”) with his passion for music: he also has a Diploma in Music Theory and Solfeggio obtained from the Conservatoire Ghedini of Cuneo, and another in Complementary Piano from the Public Conservatoire of Alessandria.
Another name from Piedmont, and the third one out of three subsequent editions, following Fabrizio Torchio from Asti and Gian Luca Colombo from Turin, listed in the roll of honour of the Giulio Gambelli Award, organized by Aset (Associazione Stampa Enogastroagroalimentare Toscana, or Tuscan Food-and-Wine Press Association) and Igp (I Giovani Promettenti, or Promising Youth blog network) to honour the memory of a great “master of wine”. This year the Award is hosted by the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino, a wine and a territory that – like Chianti Classico and Nobile di Montepulciano – retain strong memories of Giulio Gambelli and his achievements.
The jury selected the winner from 16 oenologists, all strictly under 35, as per award regulations, who reached the finals out of 46 competitors recommended by a panel of 35 food-and-wine journalists. A total of forty-six wines were evaluated by a jury composed of ten judges, gathered at the headquarters of the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino. All forty-six were the expression of the typicality of the wine regions that encompass the entire territory of Italy, from Trentino to Sicily, from Piedmont to Basilicata. The judges prepared a results list showing very slight differences in a narrow range, a sure indication of the excellent work performed by the young oenologists.
“This proves – says Stefano Tesi, Chairman of Aset – that young oenologists are working to recover an authentic style. And “gambellinism” is a style, a spirit, so it cannot be precisely defined. Everyone perceives it in a different way, and that’s the beauty of the Award. It helps to understand how “gambellinism” comes across and to discuss the concept. For this reason, the prize is awarded to the work performed by the oenologists, and not to the wines, which are only a tool of judgment”.
“I was pleasantly surprised – comments the winner, Francesco Versio – when I was informed of the award. And I am deeply honoured to be here to collect it and to celebrate the memory of a man who made the history of wine in Tuscany”.

Therese Peters: Brunello 2010 thumbs up!

In Terese Peters (The Wine House in Los Angeles) opinion “the 2010  vintage is perfect balance between complexity and accessibility between ripeness and the early accessibility but long aging ability. This vintage already is one of the greatest vintages in the last 20 years,  thumbs up! The Brunello’s tend to have the perfect marriage between old world wines and new world. They are nice, approachable, ready to drink, capable of long aging,  for the American palate they are pleasing but not too astir… On demand in us is changing? Demand in the us is increasing because the us market now is the largest market in terms of pro capite drinking of wine and it is only getting larger every year. The typical consumer that buys Brunello is someone that enjoys American wines, California wines but wants to learn more about the old world wines but are not ready yet to drink a Barolo or a complex Burgundy or Bordeaux. Brunellos are also more affordable than a lot of the high end Bordeaux so that is something that ca be purchased aged and stored and does not empty your wallet.

Antony Dias Blue: Brunello is great with every kind of food

Anthony Dias Blue, direttore The Tasting Panel: “the 2010 vintage of Brunello are absolutely the finest Brunello I have ever tasted. On the expectations for this vintage? What is wonderful about it is that it is great now, it is drinkable now and it will age for many many many years… decades. On US market? I believe it will continue being so. American have a  good  palate and they appreciate good wine and this is great wine. On the changing  consumers’ taste. Looking at trends, I think Americans are very much interested into a wider variety of wines. Years ago it was just chardonnay  and cabernet, now it’s more awhole range and sprectrum of wines from around the world. On what kind of consumer buys Brunello. I think they (American consumers) are knowledgeable, they have money to spend, they appreciate and love Italian food together with it, but Brunello is not just for Italian food, it is great with every kind of food.

Romano Chieti: Americans are expecting good wines

Romano Chieti, born in Montalcino, speaks about the 2010 vintage: “The 2010 vintage is a very special vintage not only because it is 5 stars but it has the potential of becoming a unique vintage. We are luck we have so many producers here today. Americans are expecting good wines, the market right now  requires good wines and Brunello with the Barolo and the Amarone is right far ahead.  My business is important on Italian wines , we have about 600 accounts  but already at Vinitaly  you will see, because I think it is going to be a very good wine”.

How is the consumer changing

The consumer is changing in better wine. Today Italian wines have an important spot in the wine list. Before in restaurants we had 80 % French wine, 10% from California and the rest was Italian. Not it is the other way. Hard to find a French wine in Italian restaurants because our politics is to bring not politicians but good wines in the wine list!  And they listen to us

What kind of consumers drink brunello

It used to be the upper class, now middle class. Brunello is becoming important even by the glass.  People don’t have to invest a lot of money, they have a glass and then they buy the bottle when they have other guests.

Patricia Shapiro: Brunello 2010 is a very special vintage

Patricia Shapiro, Ceo of Wine & More: 2010 is a very special vintage. “I tried 2009  and other vintages. But this is spectacular, powerful. It has great potential in aging.  It is a wine you can enjoy today it now but both big producers and small producers  all are good. I cannot find one producer that I can say I did find what I expected. This is spectacular and I think everybody will really love it even for the new beginners to whom you can introduce Italian wine , they will also love it, even the ones that  don’t have a strong palate.

Actions the Consorzio should carry out to consolidate the us market

What the consorzio is doing to have meetings with very good producers, that is really important for us because we are the people that transmit the information outside. Through websites, blogs, private tastings. Collectors don’t come here and they want to know our opinion, collectors don’t come here.  If the Consorzio does these presentations… In one place I can really have more info if I travel to Italy, and I love Italy, but this makes my work simple!

Changing of consumer’s taste

The US consumer is very open for new.  The US also produce wine but they like new things. And it depends on how you present it. Also 2009 is very good, different price, don’t need to be crazy expenses, you can put it in a party, in a dinner and you surprise your friends with that.

US market

The US market is very open , curious. That is what I find through my blog and my website. What people write to me. They want to learn more, even if they don’t know it. some  markets, some countries are more closed, usa are very open and really want to know more. I suggest Italian producers should be more present and they will be very welcome.

What distinguishes Brunello from other wines

Family talks about the wine. When I bring Brunello it is mainly what is behind it. What the owner has been doing and what he transmits. And you can feel it. Brunello and I know lots of producers ad they care so much like a baby!  It is their baby. I love French wine but it’s different.  I am so close to Brunello and Italian wines because that is family to me, that is what you feel ….

Ryan Smith: Brunello 2010 is a fantastic vintage

For Ryan Smith (Enoteca La Storia) the 2010 vintage is a fantastic vintage for American consumers. “For me the most important characteristics was ripeness. The fruit was ripe, beautiful, dark , it had this beautiful berry character to it. It had of course this brunello characteristics  tannin which you always associate to this classic wine, the softer I have ever tasted before, the cleaner I have ever tasted before, sangiovese’s ripeness and softness that is so accessible to the American and Californian palate.  Probably better than  ever for Californian consumers”.

Expectations

I think that this vintage you can enjoy in the near term and in the long run.  Anybody that grabs a bottle off the shelf and opens it up in the next year is going to have a fantastic experience, of course the tannins and acidity is going to be elevated for what you’d expect from a Brunello, but it’s a wonderful wine to have with a stake. It will ….aging as well but it is more accessible than ever to the consumer  and the prices and selection in the us market is getting better than ever.

Consumer taste is changing

I do think demand is changing. We are looking at a greater association with the land, a little less consumer based and more focused on producer wines and as far as Brunello di Montalcino  a wine that has more historical background  and families that are historically  associated  with the land it speaks very well to the possibilities of wine in the future as well as Brunello is one of the few wines that speaks well  to the new world palate but at the same time associates them with things that are classically Italian.

What type of consumer buys Brunello

I think anybody that tastes Brunello will buy Brunello.

Joe Campanale: “Brunello 2010 is really beautiful”

Joe Campanale, wine director for the Epicurean group of Restaurants in NY city: “Brunello 2010 is really beautiful”. “I had a chance to taste the 2010 vintage  Brunello di Montalcino vintage and the quality is quite extraordinary. The thing that really stick out to me about the 2010 vintage is that you have a great high amount of acidity still with a great amount of ripeness. And the tannins are very soft. So I think this wine is going to have a long drinking window, they are really beautiful, really so complex even in their youth. Which is really surprising but I think the acidity will make them last for a very long time. The US continues to be one of the most important markets for Brunello di Montalcino  I see no reason that that is not going to happen in the future. We have three Italian restaurants and it seems that new Yorkers have no end for their love for all that is Italian and Brunello di Montalcino represents some of the greatest quality in Italian wines. Consumer is becoming more well educated, more well travelled and demanding of quality and I think that is a great think and the wines of Brunello di Montalcino are infact keeping up. Less ripe that the 90s, more friendly and I can anticipate that our customers are going to be willing to understand the different terroirs of Montalcino. Our customers that buy and drink Brunello are more well educated as far as wine, Brunello is more a premium product, luxury product, a combination of people who know the wine and also can affod it. I should say Brunello is a great value compared to the other great wines of the world. You can get a lot more terroirs, history and it is still a bargain price compared to the other great wines of the world”.