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Wine shops:“we are moving on, there is a desire to return to the premises and drink excellent wines”

From big cities to wine territories, there is a recovery, but the return of foreigners is fundamental. Sparkling wines are the wines of the moment

What makes us hope, is that Italians in the pandemic have started drinking better again, buying wines of medium-high range (around 20-25 euros per bottle) in order to consume them at home allowing themselves at least the pleasure of a good bottle in the different lockdowns, whereas daily wine has not exploded as it was thought. A trend that could consolidate along with the reopenings, allowing the resumption of Italian wine shops like last year, because there is a great desire for freedom and to go back to the premises, inside and outside safely. Wine shops that until March have had to deal with the ban on takeaway after 18 - “a low blow and unfair” - and now with the general uncertainty that remains, which makes contingent storage in the cellar, but be more optimistic those who also do catering, moving towards the abolition of the evening curfew. This is what historical and reference wine shops in Italy told WineNews, from the big cities where there is a restart, as we have seen in these days, to the wine territories where, instead, there is expectation for the beginning of the tourist season, in both cases with the return of foreigners that will be fundamental. The wines of the moment? Italian and not only, especially French, not without surprise to fill the glasses are Champagne and Metodo Classico as Franciacorta and Trentodoc, but also great reds such as Brunello di Montalcino and Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera, the wines of Bolgheri and Sicily as the labels of Etna, focusing on the most famous brands. And if with the arrival of summertime to be preferred once again will be sparkling wines, starting from Prosecco, whites such as the ones from Alto Adige, “lighter” reds such as Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and Lagrein, and rosè wines, which are more and more loved, such as the ones from Abruzzi and Apulia, now more than ever Italian wine shop owners are aiming at valorizing also labels from territories which are living a “second youth”, such as Alto Piemonte.
“For the moment it’ s going better in the big cities, compared to the territories where, waiting for the arrival of tourists, not all have reopened, but the positive sign is that they will - says the president of Vinarius-Associazione Enoteche Italiane Andrea Terraneo, at the helm of the Enoteca La Barrique in Cantù - it will be a recovery by step, to be evaluated in the long term and hoping for a big recovery like last year, when in some cases we even managed to recover the losses of the lockdown, but with the hope that it will go even better, to be able to look at 2022 with more confidence. Take-away sales are going well, wine shops are starting up again and we are working well, above all with medium-high and high-end wines, from Metodo Classico to Champagne, including Brunello, above 15-20 euros, which have gone from gifts and restaurant consumption to self-consumption, compared to the so-called “everyday” wines, below 15-20 euros, in a trend that has been going on since last year”.
“There is ferment, and we have restarted because there is so much desire to go out and return to drinking together in the premises, which has made us record a real boom especially since we reopened indoors - explains Luca Pizzighella, brand manager Signorvino, who after the store n. 22 in Rome has already scheduled new openings in Italy, in Milan and Turin, and then abroad - all this makes us optimistic because we believe in a turning point. Paradigms have changed, customers need safety above all, and outdoor spaces are very much in demand, but so is domestic consumption, and we must focus on this in the future. The summer season has started, and the trend is, as always, whites and sparkling wines such as Trentodoc, Franciacorta and Prosecco, but rosé wines are also in great demand”.
“Rome still suffers from the lack of people at work, but we are finally starting to hear foreigners, thanks to European tourists waiting for the return of Americans and Orientals - says Francesco Trimani, at the helm in the capital of one of the most famous and oldest wine shops in Italy - in the meantime, with the vaccination campaign that goes fast and the curfew at midnight, we start to see people around in the evening and we return to reassort the wine list. Where the great wines for the moment are going slowly, while doing well the wines in the range up to 25 euros. There is a great desire for aperitifs and the summer has already begun with whites, bubbles and rosé wines”. “Here the business is settling down, with the reduction in domestic consumption and the downsizing of online - explains Paola Longo, who looks after the Enoteca of the family group, in Legnano, one of the leaders in business gifts in Italy - sales are going well, even after the end of the ban at 6pm that made us feel unfairly affected. We are aiming at valorizing labels from territories that are experiencing a “second youth”, such as Alto Piemonte, but after 40 years we are also questioning ourselves because we are witnessing the rise of mixed spirits, from gin to vermouth and bitter, in the face of a slowdown in the great classics such as cognac, Bas Armagnac and rum”.
“In this moment restaurant and tasting in wine shops are the main ones to perform well, as opposed to the purchase of bottles, which is still affected by online sales - says Maria Grazia Politi from Casa del Barolo, a reference wine shop in Turin, which also has a restaurant - from Piedmontese wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbera and Dolcetto, to white wines, these are the wines of the moment, next to the predilection for Spritz as aperitif by young people in particular”. “In our country, retail sales are mainly linked to autumn tourism, even if we are seeing the first tentative arrivals of foreigners from neighboring countries such as Switzerland and Germany - explains Enrico Maccario, owner of Enoteca Grandi Vini in Alba, in the Langhe, of which he is a reference point - the forecasts are rosy, however, even by restaurateurs and hoteliers, who are convinced that with the increase of vaccines and the decrease of fear, tourist flows will start again. While online the most popular wines are those of the big brands, such as the Barolo of Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno or Giuseppe Rinaldi, alongside Barbaresco, the retail trade is buying simpler wines such as Barbera and Nebbiolo”.
“With the pandemic, wine has proven to be a “safe commodity” and we have always worked, selling more with the premises closed, and now customers who we haven’t seen for a while are coming back - says Fabio Leali of the renowned Enoteca Grado 12 in Trento - we sell everything, there is no preference for certain wines in particular, from France to Germany, from Austria to Sicily, passing through Piedmont, and the price range has increased, with an excellent average of 25 euros per bottle, because not being able to go to a restaurant people spent more for wines to uncork at home, and this trend is continuing even with the reopenings”. “On the other hand, Venice is a particular city, we are still far from normality, because with 1,600 inhabitants from Monday to Thursday it is hard, we work mainly in the weekend but as if they were normal days - explains Giovanni d’Este of Osteria I Rusteghi-Enoteca Gastronomica just a few steps from Canal Grande and Rialto Bridge in Venice - and this is true for the restaurant as well as for the sale of bottles, and it is a common thought with many of our colleagues”.
Things are going decidedly better in Verona, however, as Luca Nicolis tells us, at the helm of a temple of good drinking such as the historic Bottega del Vino (owned by producers of the Famiglie Storiche, ed.): “I am positively amazed, there is a restart, bottles are selling well, the average price is even slightly higher than before the lockdown, there is great enthusiasm. Clearly, the city is helping us, as it has gotten off to a good start, and then on June 19 there is Opera Wine together with the Arena Premiere, and also the Motor Bike Expo, which is a small but qualified fair, so there are already many bookings. In addition, June has always been a scarce month for us, because people were starting to leave for the sea. Instead, with all the uncertainties that exist, the Veronese are still here, and it's a clientele that loves to drink well and can spend. In short, the signs are definitely positive, and if in September and October there will be no hiccups related to the pandemic, I think that in a short time we will return to the levels we saw in 2019”.
“The restart is evident both in the restaurant and in the wine shop, so much so that they are important days with rhythms that seem almost those of mid-August - says Francesco Tognoni of Enoteca Tognoni, an obligatory stop in Bolgheri - we must now see if we will continue like this, and understand if foreign tourists will arrive. But the signs are really encouraging. We did not expect that things could go so well, even in terms of bottle sales”. “In addition to private individuals, with whom we have been working even more recently, we also serve restaurants and hotels that are now starting up again, for the moment especially outside the historic center - explains Alessandra Vignoli, of the historic family Enoteca in the heart of Florence - Champagne and bubbles have never stopped being the most popular, alongside Bolgheri labels, compared to Brunello and Chianti, at least here with us, where we go straight from high-end to low-end consumption”. “With tourism on the upswing, we have reopened full time the Enoteca la Fortezza, but its fourteenth-century setting is under restoration and this penalizes a bit, while it is going better in our other establishments - says Fabio Tassi, owner in the heart of Montalcino also of Drogheria Franci and La Sosta - at the moment customers are mainly from the vicinity and one can perceive an air of recovery, but we will not be able to talk about a real restart until 2022, in the absence of the many foreigners who come to our territory, and who will perhaps return in the fall, when the situation will be more stabilized and judging by the enthusiasm with which they keep informed. We continue however to work with international customers, shipping our wines. Brunello, of course, but also Barolo, Etna and there is interest for natural wines, and for bubbles going towards summer”.
“We have restarted with enthusiasm, but the sums will be drawn later because it is difficult to understand how the season will be - explains Guido Galli, Enoteca Galli, synonymous with excellent wines in Senigallia - last year went very well, at least until September, when the drawer was “pulverized”. The choice falls mainly on “small big” bottles, lots of bubbles, but reds are good too”. “Catering has restarted well, better than take-away sales - says Pietro Perpetuini of the Enoteca Centrale of Teramo, a point of reference also with its cuisine - we are confident because people want to come, to drink well and eat even just one dish, but a good one. We are in the middle of the change of season, so the most popular types are bubbles and rosé wines, such as Cerasuoli from Abruzzo but also from all over Italy, together with non-heavy reds, such as Pinot Noir, Lagrein and French wines”.
Emanuele Annunziata, at the helm of the historic Enoteca Dante in Naples, explains: “at the moment we are experiencing a slow start, but things are improving - the certainties are still too few, we live day by day without making too many plans, but people want to go out and return to enjoy what they had to give up until now, and those who have the opportunity spend more than before. But if tourism does not come to bring oxygen to the historic center of large cities will be a problem”. “We have always been open and we have always worked - says Simone Botega from the Enoteca Vinarius De Pasquale, the oldest in Bari - we also serve catering and with the reopenings the orders have started again, while the consumption of wine at home is decreasing compared to the last months in which our customers were mainly private individuals. There is a boom for rosé wines, first and foremost from Puglia, but also for important bubbles, such as Franciacorta and Champagne. It promises to be a better year than in the past, because now more than ever there is a desire for socializing, and aperitifs and spirits for mixing, bitters and quality bitters are also growing a lot”. “There is a resumption, because we were stopped but as soon as the dances were reopened, we started to consume again - finally explains Giuseppe Lisciandrello of Vino Veritas, temple of wine in Palermo, with its wine shops and restaurants - in the choice of labels we register a certain sensibility on Champagne and great wines, maybe because in the last times we saved money and the good habit of drinking well spread and this makes us confident. For us, France and Sicily are at the top, followed by Tuscany, Piedmont and Alto Adige”.

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