Allegrini 2018

Collina dei Ciliegi: the en-primeur sale of Amarone della Valpolicella, between business and passion

First “round” of Massimo Gianolli’s project: “our target is not the dealers, but managers, captains of industry and professionals”

“Adopt a barrique, invest and stay liquid!”: this is the successful slogan of the en primeur sale of Amarone della Valpolicella, undertaken by La Collina dei Ciliegi, the company led by Massimo Gianolli, an entrepreneur in finance, who, in 2005, realized the dream of producing wine on the estate on the beautiful hills of Erbin in Valpantena (Verona), which has been owned by the family for 50 years. The en primeur sale of Amarone, which comes from a cru from the Erbin vineyard, is part of Gianolli’s project to affirm and enhance the wines at the top of the company’s qualitative pyramid. And the debut couldn’t have been better for the memorable quality of the 2015 vintage, of which 14 barriques (225 liters) were purchased en primeur for the equivalent, in 750 ml bottles, of 4,200 out of a total of around 10,000.
“We started a journey - explained Gianolli. Our interlocutors are not the dealers as in France, but managers, captains of industry, bankers and professionals who bet more on the quality of our Amarone cru than on the “wine future”. They buy our barriques, personalized with the name of the owner, which age for years in the cellar, and as in a club they often stay in our wine resort to participate in the barrel testing, as well as bottling. A passion that, however, for us means market: otherwise how would it be possible to sell 300 bottles to a single private? With the growth of the solidity and notoriety of our brand, over the years the en primeur sale will be able to acquire an important economic value. Within 3 years we aim to sell 75% of our Amarone cru with this formula that in the future can also be proposed by a bank”.
However, do not think that today this is not an economically convenient operation for those who buy, considering that in the three years of aging the value of the wine purchased en primeur doubles at least. The price of a barriques varies from 12,000 to 27,500 euros (+VAT) on the basis of the general criterion linked to the vintage of the DOC and subjective evaluations of the quality of the harvest. In the case of the 2015 and 2016 vintage - according to experts - since this is a wine with a high quality profile and produced in small quantities, the release price is certainly lower than the exit price after aging and therefore the investment promises economic results higher than others and is not subject to the high volatility of the stock market.
Some of the 20 buyers en primeur for the 2015 vintage met on September 7 at La Collina dei Ciliegi for the first party dedicated to them. A post-bottling event that will become annual, with 300 bottles for each barrel placed in the barrel cellar in customized vaults available to the owners. “Each owner can choose the time and mode of withdrawal of the bottles - said Gianolli - as well as can decide to leave the wine in aging in wood for longer. The purchase is made only when the wine is in barrique and the choice is made by tasting not only the available vintages, but also the previous ones in order to get an idea of the potential evolution of the wine with the aging, although each year is unique”.
The buyer may also, at any time, ask to put the bottles back on the market by asking the company to negotiate on its behalf.
“To negotiate well, however, you don't need to be in a hurry - stressed the president of La Collina dei Ciliegi - we guarantee an international showcase, thanks to the expertise of vice-president Christian Roger, expert in wine and finance, and our brand ambassador Francesco Pagani and thanks to the cyclical visits of important potential customers”.
For now, those who have bought en primeur have done so mainly with a “heartfelt” impulse. This was the case for two lawyers, Piercarlo Pasti and Paolo Mensi, who were surprised that they could invest in wine, but also for Massimo Donatoni, new to Azimut Capital, the branch responsible for financial investments. And again for Sergio Albarelli, ex at Banca Azimut: “the purchase of a barrel of Amarone cru Collina dei Ciliegi was the first non-intangible investment of life, house apart! A solid value, for a liquid investment whose evolution I was able to follow with emotion”.
Passion was the basis for the participation in the en primeur also for Gianluigi Nuzzi, journalist, essayist and TV presenter. “I invested without thinking about it and not only because I liked the wine - he said - but also because Massimo is a visionary with roots in the land of his father who is also his and for friendship”. “Wine is in our roots and the sale en primeur can only fascinate the Italians - considered Severino Lagozzo, a consultant for the wine sector of Banca Mediolanum. Of course it's an investment with different characteristics and a margin of uncertainty on the yield, but it has a great advantage: if it goes wrong you can drink it”.
This is what Marco Magni will do, entrepreneur, partner and manager of Novatex, who hasn't really thought about investing and who intends to “enjoy it all without even giving away a bottle”.
“This operation has given me confidence - concluded Gianolli, after the speeches of the en primeur buyers - not so much for the anticipation of the financial flow, but because whoever buys en primeur marries the project and becomes an ambassador of the wine and the stories of friendship that have been created”.
The sales formula today reserved for the cru of Amarone (10 hectares) will also be adopted for the "SuperValpantena", the project born two years ago and signed by Lydia and Claude Bourguignon, agronomists and consultants of the most important French Chateaux, by Christian Roger, permanent member of Grand Jury Européen du vin, and by Ermanno Murari, agronomist of the Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo.
In the glass in 3 years there will be the red wine, obtained from a blend of Corvina-Teroldego, which comes from the vineyards of 3 crus between 600 and 700 meters above sea level (Monte Castello, Tasine and Preara), with very low yields between 40 and 60 quintals per hectare. Also in 3 years, the white wine - obtained from a blend of Garganega, Pinot Bianco and a third grape variety not yet known - which comes from the vineyards, Preara and Sponde, of 2 crus between 500 and 600 meters above sea level, these also with the same reduced yields.

By 2020, the Gianolli family’s investments in the Collina dei Ciliegi - 47 hectares, 24 of which in vineyards, which will become 32 by spring 2020, 20 labels for three collections (Cru, Classica, Emporium); 350,000 bottles and a total turnover of 2 million euros in 2018 - will amount to 10 million euros. The completion of the Cà del Moro Wine Retreat eco-resort in the coming years will bring the total amount of money invested to 18 million euros.

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