Monday, April 25, 2016

Interview from Viberti Magazine (Italy)

Interview with Viberti Magazine (Italy)

Jeff Zimmitti
Owner - Rosso Wine Shop
Glendale, California

1) Tell us something about your story and your personal relationship with Italian wine.

Zimmitti: "I am a first generation Italian American. I still have family in Sicily and Rome. I had uncles that made "garage wine" and I still have relatives who make their own olive oil. Food and wine was engrained in me from an early age. But it was only when traveling abroad in my early twenties that the wine "bug" officially bit me. I was a touring drummer in a rock band for many years. And during those tours around Europe in the 90's I really started to see how people all throughout Europe ate and drank. Local ingredients. Everyone had a different culture but the common thread was fresh, flavorful, good food and wine. This idea became an obsession with me and that is what drove me to open my own wine shop and wine bar. You must have passion for your business. I also discovered that I had a good palate for describing, identifying and remembering flavors. I am largely self-taught in the wine world but I am more motivated than most. Rosso Wine Shop was established in 2006."

2) Let's talk about your own predilections. How do you choose the wine to drink? How a bottle or a label should be "narrated" to catch your attention? Can you give us an example?

Zimmitti: I choose a wine to drink either based on the food I am eating or the people I'm with. I believe food and wine are linked. And I very much enjoy pairing the food from a region with their regional wine. I also completed a Culinary course in 2005 and I enjoy cooking. I will often times pick a wine and cook something with that wine in mind. Or conversely if I decide to cook a certain dish I will choose a wine based on the regional match. But the possibilities are endless. For the bottle to catch my attention I just need to know where it is from. If I see Monforte d'Alba I will try it. I know it will be quality Nebbiolo. I like when labels are clean and I enjoy older styles. I am also a graphic designer so I appreciate a professional looking label. If you look at the Giuseppe Rinaldi labels they express class and elegance with an old style feel. Great. I also enjoy wines that are crafted for food. I see this in most all European wines. These are the wines I collect personally.

3) Barolo and Barbaresco are becoming more and more popular in the US. Is that right? Why do american people love these wines?

Zimmitti: "I think Barolo and Barbaresco have always been popular in the U.S. but only in a certain segment of the collector wine population. These are wines of fantastic aromas and depth of flavor but they can be difficult to understand at first. It takes time and effort to get inside the bottle. But after some effort the rewards are far-reaching. The aromas of good Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco are unmatched almost anywhere in the world. And one of my favorite qualities is their texture, how the wines feels in your mouth. Nebbiolo is unbelievable when it comes to this. The color of the finished wine is also unique because it can be transluscent but deliver many different and complex flavors. It is a myth that a wine has to be dark for depth. My absolute favorite producers of Barolo are Giuseppe Rinaldi, Elio Grasso, Giuseppe Mascarello, Bruno Giacosa, Cavallotto and Roagna. Of course I have many others that I collect but these are the ones that spring to mind first.

4) In Alba (Italy) there are a lot of small and still unknown producers who produce amazing wine. If you were them, what would you do to "introduce" your wine in the huge, competitive (some big labels and importers seem to have a monopoly on the market) and particular Los Angeles market? Can you give us an example?

Zimmitti: "In my experience it can be difficult to introduce your wine to a new market. You must choose the right importer to work with. There are plenty of small to medium sized importers that specialize in Italian wines. They must share your passion and vision. They will be your ambassadors. It would also be helpful for the producer to come visit Los Angeles and organize some events around the visit. I do very well working with restaurants around the city to promote new and/or well-established wines. The best opportunity is to taste the wines with the right food and then be able to purchase the wine through a boutique wine merchant like us. We enjoy telling the story and bringing in new wines for people to discover. I remember a few years ago Roccalini was a new producer of Barbaresco and a small east coast importer discovered them. There was not a lot of wine available. We found out about them and I organized with a few other local retailers and we brought some wine to Los Angeles. Since that time Roccalini has found a new importer and has carried on well. I have worked with the last three vintages. This is just one example of a recent discovery and success story. It can be done. You must be patient, and be prepared to suffer; like watching the Italian National team in the early stages of the World Cup (haha)."

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