The head of among Tuscany’s a lot of prominent producers talks about tradition, increasing production– and rate.
© Biondi-Santi|The winery is considered the leader of Brunello di Montalcino.
When EPI, a financial company in France, acquired a majority stake in Biondi-Santi in 2016, they created news heard around the white wine world.
This was the initial foray into Italian red wines for this corporation, which had formerly acquired 2 maisons de Champagne in 2011; their acquisition of the most popular and historical manufacturer of Brunello di Montalcino made EPI a popular entity in the wine business (they have actually just recently purchased Isole e Olena, a highly appreciated Chianti Classico producer).
The business named Giampiero Bertolini as the CEO of Biondi-Santi in 2018; he had formerly worked as sales and marketing director at Frescobaldi, another popular Tuscan white wine producer, for 16 years. Initially born in Quito, Ecuador, he settled in Florence at the age of 7 and finished from the University of Florence with a degree in Economics and Marketing; he then got a Master’s Degree in International Marketing from MIT.
Wine-Searcher just recently interviews Bertolini to discover his intend on handling Biondi-Santi, and how he is including originalities relating to production and marketing to keep this popular estate pertinent and thriving in the 21st Century.
How did EPI contact you about this position?
I was gotten in touch with by a headhunter who had my name. To be sincere, I was not thinking of changing due to the fact that my position and career at Frescobaldi was exceptionally favorable and I was very pleased with that position, but obviously when a task like this pertains to you, you being in front of the people and attempt to understand whether this it’s real excellent occasion or not.
EPI is a financial business with an entrepreneur, Christopher Descours, managing the group. So it’s a family, which to me is really important, and it’s a household that is effectively organized for doing a great project in the red wine organization. To me that was extremely practical and crucial for my decision because it was not just a business owner with a lot of cash to have a great estate, however it was a genuine project in the high-end white wine section, which is something I truly like to do.
It’s a terrific location to be, first of all because it’s Biondi-Santi, so it’s an opportunity to be here and prepare the future of such a special estate. Also I have behind me people who comprehend business with a clear concept of the future, which is very important, because otherwise it would be very hard for me to prepare the future with the way we work here in Montalcino and the white wine business in basic.
Regarding your specific work, what are your primary responsibilities at Biondi-Santi?
We are a small company here with less than 30 people at Biondi-Santi. The structure is really lean; I have four individuals who directly report to me– they remain in marketing, commercial, financing and production.
I invest the majority of my time in between production and communication, let’s say promotion. I’m the face of the estate, so I require to go around the world, interact with the trade, with collectors, with reporters, so that uses up quite a lot of my time.
Exist particular modifications you are making in the cellar?
Whatever we do, we think 10 times here since it’s so vital. So in reality what we have actually done to the procedure is we have a more stringent selection for the fruit throughout the harvest, so we do a selection in the vineyard, and after that we make a double selection when the grapes reach the cellar, which was not done prior to. We do manual sorting plus we have a device to read the berries in terms of color and measurement.
What we altered is longer aging in the bottles prior to releasing the red wines due to the fact that Sangiovese actually needs time in the bottle to get the tannins that are fine for drinkability.
Besides that we have invested in brand-new casks since this is very important for the tidiness of the red wine. Some casks were extremely, older; we found casks from the 1890s, so that benefited the museum, however bad for the red wine.
What about changes in the vineyards?
One of the things we are doing given that we joined here is we are studying the soils, the clones we have acquired from the household; all these research studies should help bring us more information for making better white wines in the future. It’s a significant effort that we are doing now due to the fact that we didn’t get all the details from the family.
© Winenews.it|Giampiero Bertolini had actually operated at Frescobaldi prior to joining Biondi-Santi.
So we started with the soil, and we are doing a parcelization project on every single vineyard and the various soils. Then we have actually inherited older vines, those vines that were usually committed to the riserva, we acquired many clones of Sangiovese; we did a choice with the University of Florence that was ready 5 years earlier when we showed up. Now we are studying a few of those clones with particular soils, so that is an extra effort versus the typical work you do to really get all the information and to discover our soils and our clones. This is the method we are preparing for the future.
I think of there is so much demand for Biondi-Santi all over the world. Are there prepares to increase production?
We prepare to produce more, but this will happen in seven or 8 years’ time. When I showed up here I had to purchase 6.7 extra hectares essentially to keep the production steady, because we needed to replant some vineyards that were not actually excellent neither for quality or quantity. So those vineyards will remain in full production in seven or 8 years, so we might remain in the position to increase production; today we are listed below 100,000 bottles, and most likely we will go up to 115,000, maybe 120,00 bottles in the future.
Now we are exporting in 52 countries; when I arrived here four years ago we were exporting to 38. So one of the important things that we really concentrated on in the last few years was to increase circulation around the globe and to remedy the issue, because it was too focused in a few nations, and this is bad for the value of the brand.
There was a mismanagement of the brand name for a few years, which was not truly great when we arrived. What we did, first off, was clean the marketplace in terms of prices; we entirely changed our rate method as we now have only one price for the world. So we are preventing all the gray market, and that was an initial step.
Second of all, we a growing number of validate to the circulation, and that was actually practical to increase the attention in the market, the demand; this is actually the greatest issue I have, the quantity of the white wine. This year, in two months we had offered the whole allocation; this is not really acceptable. That’s what it is, so we’ll have more in the future.
Do you encounter individuals who say Biondi-Santi white wines are costly?
It’s really rare when someone is talking about prices. To be truthful, it’s a subject that we never ever touch with our individuals. For the moment I would say that the scenario about pricing is extremely positive for the 3 red wines, because we doubled the cost of the rosso right now; it was currently the most expensive. We increased by 40 percent the price of the Brunello, and 30 percent with the riserva, and nothing took place; they are requesting more than in the past. That was the wrong position in the market before in my opinion. So we were not getting the right worth prior to that this estate was worthy of.
If anybody has any doubts in their mind that Biondi-Santi will be as effective in the future with new owners as in the past, what do you inform them?
To be honest, I do not say much, I simply share what we are doing here at the Greppo estate. When I arrived here I discovered an extremely difficult situation since there was a great deal of hesitation from all over and from everyone. This is due to the fact that they were stating “The French are arriving in Montalcino and they will change things”.
So what I did was very easy. I unlocked of our estate; I revealed what we are doing in the vineyards and the cellar. I’m tasting the wines, the brand-new red wines we are producing ourselves; we have three vintages of rosso that can show what we are finishing with the wines.
Today I can state that people are more than persuaded that the instructions taken is the right one. Sone red wines are waiting to be released; the very first release of Brunello will be next year, the first one produced by us, the 2017 vintage. But there is no skepticism any longer. I would state that people are persuaded that the production job we have is solid to prepare appropriately for the future.
Now we are waiting for the results of that, which would be the red wines and we’ll see.
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