Wine as a way of life

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Friday, February 1, 2013

MANY years ago in the vast vineyards of Rimini, northeast of Italy, a young boy of six rides a tractor with his grandfather, looking forward to harvest time when the entire family would jump on the grapes for the press.

This was one of Massimo Lorenzi’s earliest memories, and little did he know that time that he would travel the world years later with boxes upon boxes of his grandfather’s wines.

Massimo’s last stop was in this Philippine metropolis early this week, which actually was a first of sorts: no wine producer has directly marketed their product in Cebu, until now.

“I am very proud that I’m the first wine producer in Cebu to introduce our wines,” said Massimo of Enio Ottaviani wines. The company is named after his grandfather, who for more than 50 years “watched the clouds, crumbled the soil with his hands, and checked the humidity in the cellars, every day.”

New generation

Grandpa Enio, of course is now joined by a new generation of entrepreneurs, his grandchildren, like Massimo, the company’s export manager. But not too long ago, Grandpa Enio was content in distributing his wonderful wines just outside San Clemente in Rimini, where his vineyards sprawl gently atop rolling slopes.

“My grandfather used to sell the wines only in our area, and at the beginning it was very hard to explain to him to open in new markets,” says Massimo. “Now he is very happy because we are exporting Enio Ottaviani wines in around 20 countries.”

And added to that list is the Philippines, particularly Cebu, an expanding metropolis that would make a good market for wine.

It was “easy” for Massimo to become interested in Cebu, whose people he finds hospitable and friendly.

“Last year in Singapore, I met a trader and he asked me if I was interested in the Philippine market,” he reveals. So, the Italian wine executive looked up Cebu on the Internet and realized there were many resorts and hotels. “I then understood there were several opportunities to be made.”

What’s in a glass of wine

Yet for Massimo, travelling the world means more than just selling wine. It’s also
about a sharing of cultures and passions.

“It’s a pleasure to be in Cebu and teach Italian wine culture to the Filipino people,” he explains.

“Wine is my life. And wine is not just a glass with some liquid inside. In a glass of wine, there is tradition, passion, love,” he says. “First of all, I want to give emotion to my costumers, then I sell wine.”

Much of these emotions were fermented during the years growing up in his grandfathers’ vineyards, where they’re “in love with nature and her rhythms, where the changing seasons were the only calendar they know.”

With its vast tracts of vineyards, Italy is ideal for wine production, Massimo says.

The tastes, though, vary because of the differences in soil, terrain and climate.

“In Rimini, we are famous for producing red wines of the Sangiovese grape variety.

We have soil different from the other wine producers. We are near the River Conca, so our soil is made of rocks, sand, clay and loam,” says Massimo. “We are also very close to the sea, which is just five kilometers away,” says Massimo, in explaining the slight traces of pleasant saltiness in their wines.

Wine tasting

To give Cebuanos an idea of the distinct taste of Enio Ottaviani wines, Massimo held wine tasting events at the Shangri-la in Mactan and at Anzani, an upscale restaurant that offers new Mediterranean cuisine, in Nivel Hills. Massimo’s distributor in Cebu, Masterchef Republic, with executive chef Carsten Radke and sales and marketing manager Tito Catacutan at the helm, took care of the arrangements.

For the guests at Anzani, Massimo himself poured glass after glass of white and red wine, each paired with the restaurant’s exclusive food and wine pairing menu. “We start with the entry level wines, then we go higher,” he told the guests, accentuating every glass with a description of the wine – its color, bouquet and taste – and which it goes best with.

Watching the delighted expressions of the guests, Massimo could have gone on filling the glasses, but like a bottle of good wine, time had run out fast for the evening. (N.S. Villaflor)

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