The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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Page 40 of 116

40  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 ITALIAN WINE T here's nothing small about Italy. It's the fifth most populous country in Europe, the third largest economy in the Eurozone and the world's second largest producer of wine after France. It has more than 500 wines in DOC, DOCG and IGT denominations, more than 1,000 grape varieties and 500,000 wineries. That's a lot of clutter. So when Puglia native Marcello Miali looked at his country's vast offerings, he went the way of "small is beautiful," and in the last year, convinced several small, family-run producers to join him in a consortium that would offer Americans an unknown taste of Italy. Miali, himself a fourth-generation wine producer with a master's degree in wine marketing, understood the challenges of small producers wanting to enter the U.S. market, having to navigate the three-tier system while preserving keep their authen- ticity. He also understood no one could do it alone. "One niche market on its own is no good, but ten niche markets make a decent market," he said. With eight producers representing five regions, he is well on his way to creating a new way to promote and sell unique Italian wines. "From a commercial standpoint, big wineries are on the way out," he told THE TASTING PANEL from his table at last month's Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri grand tasting in New York. "I give you a full range of boutique wines that deserve to be tasted and reflect the taste of our terroir." Based in New Jersey, Miali, 36, splits his time between the U.S. and Italy, managing the consortium and the distributor relationships along with his business partner, Jan Rubia. He says his is the only "self-importing" consortium, with most of the trans- Atlantic business done on a handshake. He says the fact that he's somewhat of an anomaly—a small producer representing the best interests of other kindred produc- ers—has helped him get notice in competitive markets. He's had the full portfolio since November and so far NY, NJ, NC, DE, CA and IL are the strongest markets, with good interest in other markets. Miali says he hopes to double business this year—a goal he thinks is approachable because of the changing palates of American wine drinkers and the desire of distributors to carry more indig- enous grape varieties, such as Schioppettino di Prepotto, Fiano Minutolo, Pecorino, Passerina and Verdeca offered by the consortium members. "Now, distributors are now looking for us and they like that the wines are niche- produced," Miali said. "I'm here to tell people there's more than Cabernet." The eight current members of the Wineries of Italy Consortium: Colli di Poianis, Friuli Azienda Agricola Olivetta, Piedmont Cantina Braschi, Emilia-Romagna Querceto di Castellina, Tuscany Fattoria il Canneto, Tuscany Poggio M aestrino/Spiaggiole, Tuscany Terre di Eva, Abruzzo Cantine Miali, Puglia PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT Wine ICons THE WINERIES OF ITALY CONSORTIUM PROVIDES AN UNKNOWN TASTE OF ITALY by Lana Bortolot Marcello Maili created the Wineries of Italy Consortium last year with his business partner, Jan Rubia. Eight Is Enough (For Now)

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