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Asian switch to Italian wines logical but difficult

Barolo producers consider the idea that Asian consumers will increasingly switch to Italian wines as a logical step but a difficult one.

Often considered as potentially the next big region of interest after Bordeaux and Burgundy, Barolo producers themselves are aware of the challenges just as much as the opportunities that Asia affords.

Speaking to the drinks business, Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo of Cordero di Montezemolo said: “It’s a growing market of course and the potential is huge but the step from French wines to Italian wines is also huge.

“It’s a step that consumers in more mature markets would typically take because Barolo and more generally Nebbiolo are not easy wines. This is also a market that loves rich and powerful brands although our wines are good for food pairing.”

As is so often the case it is education that is considered key. Montezemolo continued: “More will happen with education.

“Now it should be more about food pairings and the differences to French wine than too much about single vineyards and so on.

“We have become more popular over the last five years but compared to the boom France has enjoyed we are definitely behind.”

“We have a lot to do,” agreed Francesco Cordero of Vietti, “people do not know Barolo as well as we would like but the market is moving quickly.

“First people have Bordeaux, then they move to Burgundy and after that the next closest is Barolo.”

Elisa Sacvino of Paolo Scavino was more positive about Barolo’s chances, highlighting the wine’s quality and the fact that the best wineries retain a family link that is important in a market such as Asia that values heritage.

She told db: “This culture based on old history is very important. Yes it takes education but people come to it and the results Nebbiolo gives are unique, it has no competition from anything else.

“Barolo is elegance and complexity not just power. Recently the quality of winemaking has improved and the differences in winemaking are less extreme as well.”

Ultimately, she concluded, Barolo’s time would come, “We are a very small region,” she said, “and not as powerful as the French.”

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