I’m not really surprised. Montalcino isn’t different from many little towns in Italy. There is a lot of fear of change and a lot of entropy, make it hubris, which keeps them and the wine they make from really making it to the top. Let’s face it, Brunello can be great, but not with a small-minded approach. I’m not talking a slick Madison Avenue approach to marketing, but this small town, old fashioned mentality that refuses to look further than their own nose, well, let me be clear: it makes it easier for me to say the first thing I am giving up for Lent this year will be Brunello.
What got me here?
A few months later I got in contact with him, to see if there was any follow-up I could do in regards to the event which was coming up (in a month). I was told by my journalist friend, that they were in contact with someone at the Consortium, on my behalf.
As a follow up to that I wrote a note to the person, and indicated my interest in attending.
Dear ___________ ,
Happy New Year
On the advice of my friend and colleague, _____ _______, I am contacting you to let you know of my interest in Benvenuto Brunello in Montalcino this year.
Please advise me, at your convenience of the events and of my possible participation in the event this year.
I work in the Italian wine arena and have the blog, On the Wine Trail in Italy, as well as write for various publications and judge at international wine events. If you need me to send you my CV, please feel free to ask, if you need further information
A week later, after I am told the invites are being sent out I send another note to the person I sent the first note to, explaining perhaps my email got stuck in their spam file.
I also reached out to another friend in Montalcino. A couple of days later I get an email from her.
______ _______ wrote me that she can't get through in sending you a reply. She asked me to transmit it to you:
Dear Mr Cevola,
Excuse us for our late reply; I was quite sure I’ve replied to your email!!
We have registered your name on the press list for the Saturday’s tasting on February the 23rd.
At the main entrance you will find your budget which will give you the possibility to taste all the wines at the walking around tasting to the producers table.
Looking forward to welcome you in Montalcino
I think that when she writes budget she means "badge". The message was also copied to ______ (another journalist I know). If you want any further help, just send me a note.
Look, I am not a hard person to find. I check all my emails, along with the spam files. I never successfully received any note from anyone at the Brunello Consorzio, only the follow note from my friend with her note. This is typical of folks in the bureaucracy; they’re not at all connected to their marketing efforts to know who they should extend a little professional courtesy to. Bordeaux or Napa Valley Vintners would never make this mistake, and I don’t even write about their wines that much. Meanwhile I have a blog devoted to Italian wine for 7 years, 10% of my 900+ posts reference Montalcino, thousands of people read the posts and I can’t even get a return email that isn’t ultimately routed to me by a concerned friend? Montalcino doesn’t need me, I get it.
Guess what? I don’t need Montalcino either.
As a sidebar, one would think these paper pushers would have done a little homework. In my day job, I represent a company that moves tremendous amounts of Brunello through America. Last time I checked, in my work, and with the companies I work with, we represent, conservatively, 8% of all Brunello that is imported into America. Brunello is important to me and my professional colleagues. But the apparatchik of Montalcino, the Consortium and the P.R. machine is offline.
Montalcino has not just done this to me. One of my colleagues who lives here in Texas has infinitely more credit to direct a seminar, but do they know this guy either? I have to send these folks his contact info, and he consults for a top Italian restaurant in Houston as well as writes for a blog in Houston. He gets an invite too, like he needs that. Are these people sitting under a rock?
Did Montalcino lose internet service recently and suffer an information blackout? Or just more hubris?
Look, many of us in America and Italy know Italy is going through a particular time where Italy seems to not give a damn about their image or their business. Funny, the winemakers know the challenges. Harvest is down, prices are rising and world competition is up. But the folks who run the events for the consortium in Montalcino are either playing “collect-a-check” or they just are not very bright. If I were paying the consortium the fees they ask, I’d expect more bang for my buck.
We want to sell more Brunello in America, but the folks in Montalcino need to open their eyes and participate, consciously, in raising the image and bringing their best game to the table. And that’s just not happening.
Montalcino, you want our attention and our market share? You've got to try a little harder. The stakes are as high as they've ever been.
When is someone going to get it? My friends and colleagues do. It's not for lack of them trying. But, once again, the old-fashioned bureaucracy, that, don't-give-a-damn-"who is this guy anyway"-attitude, trumps authentic engagement.
written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
Thanks Rafaella and Walter for your efforts.
Thanks Rafaella and Walter for your efforts.
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