Thursday, June 17, 2010

Villa des Anges at LCBO

One of the first Hexagon Wines products to hit the LCBO Vintages store shelves has sold really well the first week (looks like roughly 4500 of the 12000 ordered).

I spoke to the manager at the LCBO store across the street from Juniper and he's had to re-order from the warehouse given the spectacular sales. He's been helpful in giving it prominent placement in the store.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Leaving Alba

I'm packed up and about to leave Alba. The experience here has been very special and I look forward to coming back. I spent yesterday touring three wineries and have a much better appreciation of this area and the wines that come from it (mainly Barbera, Dolcetto and Nebbiolo).

I started yesterday by heading to Cascina Adelaide.

Simone (the winemaker) provided me with a full two-hour tour of their modern facility. I also tried barrel samples of three different vintages to see, from oldest to newest, the progression that the wine makes while in the barrel. Absolutely mind-blowing!

(I had wine from this barrel!!)


I then made my way to Francesco Borgogno (we serve their wine at Juniper), a much more rustic producer.

My final visit of the day was to Enzo Boglietti.

More photos and posts to come later. I've gotta hit the road to make my way to Alessandria to see Luigi Tacchino's operation.

Monday, April 12, 2010


The first walk to Vinitaly proved to be a long one. I'd printed off a map of the walk from my hotel to the fair grounds. I took a couple of wrong streets but managed to finally reach my destination. The distance was supposed to be about 2km, but that morning I'm sure I covered at least 3km.

Here are some photos of the venue to help give you an idea of its scope:

(some of the 'booths' were multi-level and had the footprint of a large house)

There were 10 individual buildings housing 22 different winemaking regions. The venue was the size of the Byward Market and if you tried every single wine on offer Monday-Friday from 9am-6pm, it'd take you NINE YEARS. It was enormous and there were thousands upon thousands of attendees. I thought Vinisud was big - but Vinitaly dwarfs it.

I was equipped with a stack of business cards, the Italian wine review book "Gambero Rosso", and the desire to find small(er) producers without Ontario representation with excellent products (exhibiting good typicity and flavour profiles) at a specific export price point.

So...a typical approach and ensuing conversation would sound something like this:

Me: "Hi, my name is Eric and I am an agent in Ontario, Canada. Do you currently have an agent in Ontario?"

Supplier: "Huh?? No anglese..." (with a look of utter perplexion)


Supplier: "Si, ____________(insert Ontario agency name)."


Supplier: "Ontario? No."

Me: "Great, I'm looking for a specific export price point for private importation. Do you have products in the 2-4 Euro price range?"

Supplier: "Huh?" (same look of perplexion)

So on and on it would go. Variations on that theme. Language was a barrier in most cases - but some suppliers either spoke passable english or had an interpreter of sorts on hand to help them do business.

After the initial discussion, I would typically taste their products in the price range I was after and make detailed tasting notes describing the wine's aromas, flavours, colour, etc. I would also have to evaluate the product to determine whether or not there was adequate value, typicity, etc.

After doing this for 7-8 hours for 4 days, I've tasted a tonne of wine and have a much better understanding of regional characteristics (minerals in certain soils impart a distinct aroma & flavour profile) and grape varietal characteristics.

I tried products ranging from frizzante pinot grigio (charmant method) to Franciacorta (like Champagne but aged on the lees longer and much better priced and I think tastier!!) to basic Valpolicellas to high end Barolos.

I think there will be good fits between Hexagon Wines Inc. and Tacchino (a family owned and run vineyard and winery that I might visit on my way back to Verona), Leone Conti (who is having a baby around the same time Sabrina and I are), Torre Fornello (Enrico chuckled about how when I tasted a highly alcoholic wine and looked at the bottle it indicated 13% but I looked him straight in the eye smiled and said no it's much higher...he winked at me and said 14.8%), La Viola, Danese (mass produced & inexpensive: ideal for private import), and Villa Schinosa - just to name a few.

Trip from Ottawa to Verona

I left Ottawa at about 6pm on Tuesday evening. I arrived in London, England at 6:30am local time. The flight was smooth and I watch 'It's Complicated'. I had a window seat and was able to sleep off-and-on.

(Heathrow Airport, taking the bus from one terminal to another)

I was in London for 3 hours and by this time had a full-on head cold. I picked up some medication for it and killed time.

I napped during my 2 hour flight to Vienna and had a sandwich and pop. I sat in the second last row from the rear of the plane without anyone beside me. I was a.o.k. with that!

My layover in Vienna was 7.5 hours of sitting in terminal and trying to manage my very runny nose. I tell you, it seemed to be running a marathon. My sinuses hurt and I was not a happy camper. I read, planned, and watched some Godfather (Part 1). It was a long and uncomfortable day.

Here's a picture of the plane I took from Vienna to Verona and views from my window seat:

(what a beautiful sunset - the picture really doesn't do it justice!)

As you may gather, it wasn't a quite flight (and my ears hurt due to sinus disaster unfolding in my head).

I arrived in Verona at about 9:45pm and collected my baggage. A surly security guard deemed it necessary to scan my luggage. No biggie. I collected the luggage 10 seconds later, smiled, and went on the hunt for a taxi to take me to my hotel (28 Euros). I was pooped!

I checked into the hotel and went to bed.

Vinitaly 2010

Firstly, sorry for the delay in blogging during my trip. It has been exhausting. By the end of every day, all I was interested in doing was video chatting with my wonderful wife Sabrina, have a bite to eat and hit the sack. I'll recount some of my experiences in the posts to follow.

So...I'm in Alba now (Piedmont Wine Info).

I booked a car rental before I left Ottawa and picked it up this morning a short walk from my hotel. I'd downloaded Italian maps for my Garmin (and while I was at it managed to download a fix for the constant difficulties I'd been having with my GPS device) and they proved to be accurate and immensly helpful.

The roads are in excellent condition and Italians seem to have a penchant for driving remarkably FAST. Man, they boogey! My rental is a five-speed diesel itty bitty Fiat:

I spent three hours (and 14 Euros in tolls) at roughly 125km/h (the limit was 130km/h) evading both the slow-moving stream of freight trucks and the light-speed-sound-barrier-popping BMW's, Benzes, and the like. It wasn't a boring trip! U2 is popular on the radio, as I'd come across them during my frequent station scans.

I arrived at Hotel I Castelli and am very pleased with where I'll be staying for the next two nights. Here's the view from my window:


Here are pictures of the room:

(now THAT'S a bathroom!)

There's no construction site immediately next door here. In Verona, the jackhammers would start bright and early as they seemed to be deciding whether or not to take the building down, or simply jackhammer their way to the centre of the earth. It was very disruptive:

(my room was immediately to the right of the balcony)

I'm going to venture out into town for a bite of lunch and will post more about the past week later this afternoon.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting ready for Vinitaly

My plane leaves Ottawa tonight at 6:30pm and I head to Heathrow and then Vienna before finally arriving in Verona at 10pm at night tomorrow.

A glimpse at the weather I'll have during my stay:

Looks pretty good to me!

I've packed just about everything up and used the compression bags that Chris & Addie gave me. Wow! They really make life easier!

I've got some private orders for a Chardonnay and a Champagne to move along before I leave.

I made some Vintages submissions this morning and hope they'll be picked up!

My plan for early next week is to rent a car and head west from Verona to Alba (to enjoy some Barolo).

Going to miss Sab tonnes and tonnes (along with our little boy or girl to be!)!


-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Final night in Paris

Wow, I just had a fantastic meal at the Poule au Pot.

I arrived around 9pm and was seated on a banquet immediately beside another table of 3 guests. Reminded mr a bit of Bob at Stoneface and how he'd squeeze people in wherever he could. It was cozy but comfortable.
I had french onion soup, escargots, and duck confit. I had an excellent half bottle of wine:

I finished my meal by taking Addie's advice and had the tarte tatin (and an Armagnac):

I finished things off with a coffee and the waiter graciously provided me with a pear eau de vie (kinda like grappa but better):

What a fantastic way to spend my last evening in Paris!!
Can't wait to get home tomorrow!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone