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Producer profile: Italian Wine Brands, DOC delle Venezie

With an ambition to become “global ambassadors of Italian taste”, Italian Wine Brands is the second biggest producer of Prosecco and a gigantic player in Pinot Grigio.

According to Andrea Ruggeri, the company’s UK-based commercial director, its great
swathe of vineyards within the DOC delle Venezie, which stretches from Lake Garda to the Venetian coast, accounts for around 82% of all Pinot Grigio grown in Italy. It is the vine’s homeland and its elevation to a DOC was clearly a good move.

“I think it brought a realisation to everybody that as a DOC it was far easier to manage as a
category, because you now know what production is going to be,” says Ruggeri. There are
now monthly figures from the producers, much tighter controls and lower yields which have
been reduced twice already since it came into being.

The net effect on quality is that “Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC is now excellent,” he says,
pointing to how the region’s subsoils and relatively cool conditions help to preserve the innate
freshness of the grape. Pinot Grigio grown as an IGT in Central and Southern Italy, or indeed in countries like Australia and South Africa tend to be fatter, richer and more alcoholic in Ruggeri’s view.

“The Veneto is the origin of Pinot Grigio,” says Ruggeri. “It is clearly an area which is more northernly and its cooler climate gives good acidity and good fruit. It is a great wine that has
obviously got even better since it moved to delle Venezie DOC.”

There were inevitable growing pains when it was launched after a huge harvest and this was
followed by a period of unstable pricing, but Ruggeri believes the delle Venezie DOC has
“found its rightful place above IGT wines”. Things have settled down and he feels the bond
between Pinot Grigio and the Veneto has strengthened in the trade, if not yet necessarily among
consumers. But it is still early days.

Italian Wine Brands is very much involved in protecting and enhancing the wine’s DOC status with
Giorgio Pizzolo, the CEO since 1988, on the board of the Consorzio di tutela dei vini doc
delle Venezie. For a company that exports 80% of its production to more than 80 countries, led by
the UK and US, this Venetian superstar grape variety really matters to Italian Wine Brands.

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