Assovini Sicilia Celebrates 25 Years

Assovini Sicilia celebrated a double anniversary this year: twenty-five years since its founding, and twenty years since the first edition of Sicilia en Primeur.

A special event was recently held in May during Sicilia en Primeur 2024, which included the preview of the latest vintage. This was a record edition with over one hundred journalists, including national and international press, ten enotours, five masterclasses, fifty-nine wineries and over three hundred labels for tasting.

Cultivating the Future, the claim chosen for this edition, takes stock of the first twenty-five years, emphasizing Assovini Sicilia’s role as a leading player and witness to the Sicilian wine renaissance.

Diego Planeta, Lucio Tasca d’Almerita and Giacomo Rallo signed the articles of association of Assovini Sicilia in 1998. Eight wineries were the first to join the association, endorsing that far-sighted, courageous, revolutionary vision, which saw associationism as a winning strategy to promote Sicily.

Twenty-five years later, the dream of the “founding fathers” to attribute cultural, promotional and storytelling value to Sicilian wine has been fully realized.

The strong wind of change and evolution continues to push the association forward, which, driven by the spirit of teamwork and system, has recently become a beacon in the wine scene, demonstrating not only that in Sicily, wine production is of quality, the managerial profile of the companies is competitive, and wine is a cultural ambassador to the world, but that the Sicily that knows how to team up is a winner.

“I am proud to represent an association that has always conveyed and promoted a contemporary image of Sicily, linked to traditions, dynamic, and elegant,” comments Mariangela Cambria, President of Assovini Sicilia. – Thanks to the courage of those who believed in associationism, defying all cultural resistance and, putting themselves on the line without protagonism, believing in teamwork, today, throughout the world, Sicily is a brand with a powerful and profound cultural value and international appeal. Assovini Sicilia was born from a vision and a plan that pushed the island towards new horizons, made it known throughout the world for its beauty and history. A story whose telling was entrusted to the narrative and symbolic power of wine. The great revolution of Assovini Sicilia was to believe in wine as a cultural product, with potential that is extraordinary and unique, before being economic.”

The story of these extraordinary twenty-five years, divided into multiple themes – the evolution of the vineyard, the cultural value of wine, perception in the American market, wine tourism and the Next Generation – was the heart of the “Cultivating the Future” conference, moderated by Gioacchino Bonsignore, a Mediaset journalist, inside the monumental complex of San Domenico in Cefalù.

Bonsignore retraced the history of Assovini Sicilia through those who have supported the vision and path of the association over the years.

«It’s a bit like what happened with the Italian language: It was born in Dante’s Florence, in the fourteenth century, but the precursor is the Sicilian School of the court of the “Stupor Mundi”, Frederick II of Swabia, in the thirteenth century.

Members of Assovini Sicilia speak about history, culture and values. They are all aiming for exports: Europe confirms itself as the main export market, for 95.7% of the companies, followed by North America. «I have witnessed the Sicilian wine renaissance firsthand over the past twenty years, and writing about the wines of Sicily has given me some of the most rewarding professional moments. I am deeply convinced that the bright future of Italian wine begins here, in Sicily, in the heart of the Mediterranean” – states Monica Lerner, an American journalist and wine critic for Robert Parker Wine Advocate.

Alessio Planeta, Antonio Rallo and Alberto Tasca, sons of the original founders, took up the torch and carried forward the initial plan of teamwork that laid the foundations of the winning “wine system” of Assovini Sicilia.

«I have always been convinced that collaborating and sharing long-term objectives is the right way to create value and promote our extraordinary wine-growing contexts.
Therefore, associationism for me has been and continues to be a successful path, which fully embodies the spirit of collaboration and commitment to excellence that characterizes Sicilian wine-growing,” comments Antonio Rallo, past president of Assovini and current President of the Consortium for the Protection of Sicily DOC wines.

Alessio Planeta defines the time span and history of the Sicilian vineyard in three emblematic eras: the enchantment of the past, the fervor of the 1980s and the vitality of the new millennium. «Each stage tells a story, interwoven with numbers, trends and varieties that reflect our commitment to the future. It is not just an exercise in meditation, but a bridge to tomorrow, shaped by family experience and innovation. In a world where we export to 75 markets, operating in five different Sicilian regions, we rely on the wisdom of our predecessors, like my uncle Diego Planeta, and our vision,’ adds Alessio Planeta, CEO and President of Planeta Winery.

Not only quality production and promotion abroad, Assovini Sicilia has won the bet on wine tourism as a tool for telling the story of the territory and its historical and wine-growing heritage.

Today, 84.8 % of the member companies have implemented a series of wine tourism services in their wineries that are true wine experiences, contributing to the evolution of wine tourism services from simple wine tastings to a part of experiential tourism.
In Sicily, the wine experience is a metaphor for a land that is changing and that has managed to enhance an asset, the wine industry, capable of representing our Sicily at its best,’ commented Marcello Mangia, president and CEO of Mangia’s – Aeroviaggi and host of the Sicilia en Primeur conference.

With its roots firmly anchored in tradition and the past, Assovini Sicilia is laying the foundations for the future by continuing to follow the winning trajectory and strategy that has led the association to celebrate these first twenty-five years successfully. The wineries are preparing for the generational transition: About 78% of the member wineries have already integrated a new generation into the company management. Within the association, the ‘Next Generation’ group has been created to represent the new generations of Assovini Sicilia, young people under 40 years of age who are already operational and family members within family businesses and who, guided by the example of Assovini, are committed to creating a team that looks to the future and to the enhancement of the Sicilian wine-growing territory. Among the new group’s main areas of intervention: communication, training and promotion of the territory.
«I believe that the NextGen of our entrepreneurial families have very clearly in mind what kind of ancestors they want to be: And this is how they will transform business models, here in Sicily and in the wine industry as in all sectors and geographical areas,’ Giovanna Gregori, executive director of AIDAF – Italian Family Business, commented during the conference.
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Sicilia en Primeur, the event conceived of and organized by Assovini Sicilia since 2004, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. An itinerant event that has based its success on a winning format: combining the preview of the latest vintage wines with visits to wineries and territories, telling the story of Sicily’s historical-archaeological and landscape beauties through the stories of wine.

“With Sicilia en Primeur, wine becomes an instrument of narration not only of the wine heritage but also of the human and historical heritage of Sicily. Wine is the leitmotif that unites the stories of the producers with those of the territories, weaves tales, joins pieces of a unique mosaic where Sicily is an extraordinary wine-growing continent” President Mariangela Cambria concludes.

The Winners of the “Star Wine List” Announced

Star Wine List of the Year is the celebration of the great wine lists in the world and the teams behind them. The prize was awarded in ten categories, and the winners in each category got a Gold Star and qualified for the international final which will be held in June.

The International Open was held as an online event on May 6. Of the countries in the finals, both Australia and the Netherlands had the most representatives, with 20 restaurants/bars each. USA had 13 and Canada 10 venues shortlisted.

The jury for the Star Wine List of the Year International Open 2024 includes four international wine experts:

Pascaline Lepeltier
Piotr Pietras MS
Heidi Mäkinen MW
Doug Frost MW MS

“The judging process was quite a challenge and scores were really tight in most categories. The level of wine lists was high and I was impressed by their complexity, depth and a clever, creative touch,” said jury panel member Piotr Pietras MS about judging the International Open.

His fellow jury member Pascaline Lepeltier said:

“How exciting it is to see so many compelling lists from restaurants I have never heard of: it is impressive to see how so many sommeliers all around the world are creating curated beverage programs, with wit and intelligence, sometimes in areas where access to wine is complicated. I salute all their passion and hard work, and I am glad Star Wine List decided to showcase them!”

Doug Frost, both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, joined the online celebration on May 6.

“I have looked at a lot of wine lists, and judged them, over the years. This time it was both really difficult and interesting. And it was exciting to look at so many different lists, and I learned a lot from it too. And it’s obvious that the people who sent us these lists have worked really, really hard,” he said.

Here are all the Gold Star winners:

The best list overall
[Gold Star]
De Nieuwe Winkel, Nijmegen, Netherlands

“Wow, this is crazy. I’m overwhelmed, thank you so much. I don’t know what to say, I feel very very honoured,” said Gauthier Cauwels from De Nieuwe Winkel.

“This award is not only about a list, but also how a wine selection is coherent with the whole philosophy of a restaurant. De Nieuwe Winkel is showing us what the gastronomy of tomorrow will probably be, ancred but how so diverse, and dedicated to be a local actor while responsibly offering some of the most thoughtful and delicious wines, at a fair price. Congrats!” said jury member Pascaline Lepeltier.

Best Long List
For wine lists with more than 600 references.
[Gold Star]
Restaurant Le Coureur des Bois, Beloeil, Canada

“Thank you. We are so very happy, this feels amazing. It’s a big work for every member on the team to maintain the list. It’s a tough job to keep the list year after year. The verticals and the classics, as well as the newcomers and the up-and-coming wines. My role is quite difficult, but I’m so happy for the team I work with,” said head sommelier Jean-Simon Rioux-Ranger at the event.

“A beautiful, complex list showcasing both classic and new-wave producers. The list thoroughly covers not only well-known appellations, but it also includes hidden gems and up-and-coming regions. Impressive verticals from numerous wineries are an added value,” said jury member Piotr Pietras.

Best Medium-Sized List
Recognizes the best wine list with 200-600 references.
[Gold Star]
MotherVine, Adelaide, Australia

“Thank you so much, it’s a great honour. I really didn’t expect this. Our list holds all the types of wines that we love to drink ourselves, but we also want to have wines for every kinds of tastes. Our name speaks of a clone, but we also have a love for Burgundy, which I think is reflected in the list,” said Mathieu Smeysters, sommelier and co-owner.

“This wine list highlights both national and international wines from exciting producers and manages to make the selection very diverse. The balance between different producer styles is successful and the offering is delightful throughout all pages,” said jury member Heidi Mäkinen MW.

Best Short List
Recognizes the best wine list with fewer than 200 listings.
[Gold Star]
De Nieuwe Winkel, Nijmegen, Netherlands

“Thank you, I feel very happy and honoured for the recognition. We try to do things differently, only cook plant-based for example. And our wine list is a reflection of that. We also have a beer sommelier, with an amazing list, and botanical cocktails. I want to send a big thank you to our owners who let me keep building this list, and thank you to all my colleagues,” said Gauthier Cauwels from De Nieuwe Winkel.

“Frankly, it’s easy (if expensive) to write a great wine list when you have several thousand selections. I’ve always believed that the truest mark of smarts is the ability to write a well-rounded and complete short wine list. Winkel has provided a list for every gustatory and financial appetite. Sure, there’s a focus upon cooler sites and Bordeaux is under-represented, but there are so many other wonderful options that it just doesn’t matter,” said jury member Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine.

Best Sparkling Wine List
Recognizes the best list with sparkling wines
This category is presented by Nyetimber
[Gold Star]
Ristorante del Lago, Bagno di Romagna, Italy

“We saw many wine lists with amazing Champagne selections; this one didn’t necessarily stand out for that but, rather, its crazy, nearly encyclopedic list of Italian bubblies. Okay, the Champagne list was great too,” said Doug Frost.

Best By the Glass List
Recognizes the best by the glass list.
[Gold Star]
Ten Minutes by Tractor, Main Ridge, Australia

“Thank you so much. I can only thank the wine team and the chefs, as well as our owners. Of course, people come to our restaurant to enjoy our own wines, but we want people to be able to enjoy a full restaurant experience, and enjoy other fantastic wines apart from ours,” said Kyle Barton from Ten Minutes by Tractor.

“Anyone entering this venue will be delighted by the offering by the glass, as it allows delving deep into different wine styles from around the world. Each choice, whether local or from further afield, is chosen carefully, so it would be a real struggle to choose what not to drink!” said jury member Heidi Mäkinen.

Best Newcomer List
Recognizes a venue that recently opened
[Gold Star]
Enoteca Boccaccio, Melbourne, Australia

“Thank you so much, such a great honour for us. Enoteca Boccaccio has been a dream project for my bosses, the d’Anna family. We’ve been open a little less than a year, and it has been such a lovely journey to build this list,” said wine director Elena Leardini.

“They may be newcomers but they offer a fantasy of some of the sexiest names in wine: Selosse, Krug, Raveneau, J.J. Prüm, Emidio Pepe, Rinaldi, and Borgogno, all with remarkable vertical selections. The largest of all the verticals? One of the greatest values in Italian wine: Produttori del Barbaresco,” said jury member Doug Frost.

Sustainable Wine List
For the Sustainable Wine List category, not only the wine list is evaluated, but also the stated actions of the venue, as described through a questionnaire in the application.
[Gold Star]
Esters Wine Shop & Bar, Santa Monica, USA

“It is always so inspiring to see more and more places looking for solutions to make a restaurant a more sustainable place, especially when it goes beyond just the selection of committed farmers and winemakers. This is what set Esters apart; actions and support not only to education and promotion of sustainable farming, but an involvement in the local community to help the needed environmental and social changes to happen,” said the jury’s Pascaline Lepeltier.

Here is the link to the winners:
starwinelist.com/wine-story/the-winners-in-our-international-open-with-competing-wine-lists-from-19-countries

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles Launches “South Africa Selection by CMB” 17 to 20 September in Cape Town

One of the world’s largest and most respected wine and spirits competitions, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB), launched last week a national competition for South Africa under the global CMB brand “South Africa Selection by CMB.” The inaugural edition will open for entries on 1 June, with judging scheduled to take place from 17 to 20 September in Cape Town.

Says Quentin Havaux, CMB’s CEO, “To head up the new South Africa Selection by CMB, we have appointed Lorraine Immelman, who has founded and run two successful wine and spirits competitions in South Africa since 1997. With almost 30 years of experience in the international wine and spirits competition business, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our team.”

Following the success of the Sauvignon Selection by CMB in March 2023 – known as the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon at that time – the decision was taken to establish a national competition in South Africa in 2024.

Quentin continues, “Our vision for the South Africa Selection is three-fold:

1. to develop a national wine and spirits competition which is powered by the well-recognized Concours Mondial de Bruxelles;
2. to create a synergy in South Africa which will promote the country’s wines and spirits to local consumers, and
3. to create new platforms for the promotion of South African wines and spirits in world markets.”

Global Exposure on Local Soil
“Amidst a seeming flood of recent new wine competitions, I believe that South Africa right now needs a global wine and spirits competition of the stature and international significance of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles,” says Lorraine.

CMB offers entrants true value for their entry fees, including:
personalised, usable feedback from the judging panels on every product entered and tasted. This includes an Aroma Wheel generated by AI and a detailed analysis with actionable insights to support marketing campaigns.

CMB’s judges represent a mixture of the best local and international experts including buyers, journalists, oenologists and hospitality representatives, who add real marketing support for awarded products.

A Wine and Spirits Experience by CMB concept has been developed with the opening of Wine Bars and Wine Corners in cities and airports around the world (including Mexico City and Tokyo). These tasting venues are exclusively dedicated to CMB medal-winning products from all competitions and sessions.

The CMB media team gives exposure to awarded products at international wine shows such as Prowein, Wine Paris-Vinexpo, Vinitaly and Guiyang.

The South Africa Selection team will focus on the sustained promotion of winning cellars and sponsors through a dedicated media campaign to promote our winners locally. CMB also adheres to the strict competition rules set forth by the European Union, as well as all CMB competitions and selections are meticulously audited by the Service Public Fédéral belge de l’Economie (SPFE).

“CMB aims to be the most prestigious and the most rigorous wine competition in the world. What we want is to be the most reliable wine competition for producers and also for consumers,” says Quentin Havaux. “We look forward to bringing this competition to your beautiful country, and giving South Africa’s fine wines and spirits a more global presence.”

The inaugural South Africa Selection by CMB opens for entries on 1 June, with the judging taking place from 17 – 20 September in Cape Town.

For more information and entry details, please visit our website, Facebook and Instagram page:
southafricaselection.com/

www.facebook.com/southafricaselection/href=”

http://www.instagram.com/saselectioncmb/”>www.instagram.com/saselectioncmb/

For enquiries please feel free to contact Lorraine directly on southafricaselection@vinopres.com or lorraine.immelman@vinopres.com

Italian Wine Travel Pioneer and Writer Filippo Magnani Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge in Italy

Celebrating a quarter-century of excellence, Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge, led by Filippo Magnani, commemorates its 25th anniversary, marking a significant milestone in delivering unparalleled wine travel experiences throughout Italy. As a renowned wine travel expert and wine writer, Magnani has spent decades exploring and documenting Italy’s rich wine heritage, showcasing its diverse destinations and the personalities behind its celebrated wines. This occasion reflects not only the success of Fufluns Wine Tours but also Magnani’s contributions to the global appreciation of Italian wine culture through his writings and curated experiences.

Castello di Monsanto, Barberino Val d’Elsa , Chianti, Toscana, Italia

Inspired by the flourishing wine tourism industry in Napa Valley during the 1990s, Magnani recognized Italy’s untapped potential and sought to elevate the wine touring experience in his native country. In July 1999, he founded Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge, pioneering the path as the first Italian wine travel planner dedicated exclusively to Italy’s rich wine heritage. Named after the Etruscan God of Wine, Fufluns, under Magnani’s stewardship, has built a reputation for its immersive itineraries that seamlessly blend ultra luxury experiences with Italy’s undiscovered gems. Fufluns unwavering commitment to authenticity, quality, and personalization has cemented its status as a leader in the industry, creating the opportunity for people from around the world to engage with the wine regions and people of Italy.

“Reflecting on 25 years of Fufluns Wine Tours, I am filled with gratitude for this quest we’ve undertaken,” says Filippo Magnani, Founder and Supervisor, who oversees a team of ten wine expert guides – all holding WSET or Master Sommelier certifications. “We craft a diverse range of thoughtfully designed wine travel experiences led by a team of knowledgeable wine experts, ensuring an authentic and enriching experience for each guest, from avid wine enthusiasts and collectors to wine schools, wine clubs, and industry professionals such as sommeliers and importers.”

Magnani’s extensive experience in the wine trade, including holding the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (DipWSET), as a wine writer, and wine travel advisor, has enriched Fufluns’ offerings with depth and sophistication. His and his team’s commitment to excellence and their ability to weave together the cultural, historical, and sensory aspects of Italian wine make Fufluns Wine Tours not just a journey, but a celebration of Italy’s enduring wine legacy.

To celebrate the company’s 25th Anniversary, Magnani and his team are thrilled to debut an enhanced Fufluns website, featuring a range of new personalized, comprehensive, and deluxe wine itineraries throughout Italy. Visit www.fufluns.com to learn more. Filippo is also pleased to showcase a refreshed version of his personal website, www.filippomagani.it, focused on his writings and collaborations, consulting experiences, and career achievements.

In addition, Magnani is proud to announce the launch of a quarterly newsletter, along with a new logo ”A Journey Through Italian Wines”. Featuring captivating insights into Italy’s wine destinations, exclusive interviews with key personalities in the wine and hospitality industry, detailed wine tasting notes, and selected excerpts from Magnani’s personal blog, Tales Behind The Wines, this newsletter aims to further enrich the understanding and appreciation of Italian wine culture among enthusiasts and professionals worldwide.

Furthermore, throughout 2024, Magnani will personally lead tours for various wine club groups and private wine collectors across Italy. These tours, featuring long-standing partners and loyal clients, are a special celebration of Fufluns’ 25th anniversary, allowing Magnani to share the beauty and richness of Italy’s wine regions and producers with those who have supported his journey. As Fufluns continues to innovate in the wine travel space, Magnani’s goal is to strengthen his expert team, further enhancing Fufluns’ ability to offer unique and memorable wine experiences while maintaining the personal touch that has distinguished them in the industry.

Magnani will also be participating in a charity auction as part of The Golden Vines Awards this October in Madrid. For this event, he has created a special auction item: “VIP Experience — Discovering the Iconic Bolgheri”, in which he will personally accompany six passionate donors on a visit to the historic estates of this famed Tuscan region. All proceeds will be donated entirely to the Gérard Basset Foundation.

Source: Fufluns Wine Tours

IWSR Research: Who is winning in the moderation trend?

According to IWSR research conducted in late 2023 across the top 10 no/low markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the US – 44% of no/low consumers said they had switched to a no-alcohol drink from another non-alcoholic drink, such as soft drinks, water, tea or coffee. This compares to 29% who replaced a full-strength alcohol product – although this was significantly up on the 2022 figure.

“No-alcohol drinkers generally come from other non-alcoholic beverages, but also now increasingly from full-strength categories,” says Susie Goldspink, Head of No- and Low-Alcohol Insights, IWSR. “There is also an increase in the proportion of no-alcohol consumers planning to increase their no-alcohol consumption.

“Increasingly, alcohol companies see no-alcohol especially as an opportunity for growth. Moderation is an established trend, and no-alcohol products which keep customers within a category – for example, switching beer for no-alcohol beer – or within a brand portfolio – say, switching Heineken for Heineken 0.0 – offer an option to alcohol businesses to hold on to revenue and continue to build brand equity.”

As a result, a number of brand owners across the beverage alcohol marketplace have invested heavily behind zero-alcohol versions of leading brands, or have either acquired or developed ‘pure-play’ no-alcohol brands, to target these opportunities. IWSR’s Innovation Tracker shows that the number of no-alcohol innovations coming to market globally has more than tripled since 2019, with numbers peaking in 2020 for launches of brand extensions as well as new-to-world products.
Consumer attitudes, however, are somewhat different within low-alcohol: here, 40% of those surveyed said they had replaced a full-strength alternative with a low-alcohol product, with 33% switching from another non-alcoholic drink.

“Full-strength alcohol categories continue to be replaced the most by low-alcohol beverages – particularly replacing beer/cider, for example in Spain and Brazil,” explains Goldspink.

“Meanwhile, spirits are being replaced more in markets such as the US and South Africa, where spirits are the most purchased full-strength category.”

IWSR consumer research also suggests that people who don’t currently participate in the no-/low-alcohol category could also be potential targets for brand owners in the future.

“More than half of non-consumers of no/low are either moderating their alcohol intake (26%) or don’t drink alcohol at all (28%) – offering a further untapped opportunity for producers of no- and low-alcohol brands,” explains Goldspink.

“There is also evidence from our recent consumer research that in many markets, no-alcohol products recruit consumers who aren’t drinking in a certain occasion or switching between both. These might be ‘Substituters’ (those who switch between alcohol and no-alcohol in different occasions) or ‘Blenders’ (mixing alcohol and no-alcohol in the same occasion).

“In both cases, these occasions offer an incremental opportunity for a brand owner to sell a product to a consumer who otherwise would not have been buying one of their products.”

Meanwhile, the emergent segment of functional beverages – ‘alcohol adjacents’ with active ingredients such as CBD, adaptogens or nootropics that claim to offer health benefits, stress reduction, mood alteration and pleasure – is beginning to attract younger consumers (Gen Z, Millennials) in particular.

According to IWSR data, the purchase of cognitive enhancers has increased over the past year, driven by growth in Australia and the US – where up to 29% of Millennials have made purchases in the category.

“CBD and other nootropic/adaptogenic products could provide a future challenge to alcohol consumption, particularly with younger legal drinking age consumers who are more likely to participate in this category,” says Goldspink.

“This generation participates in a broader repertoire of beverages in this space, as well as generally still consuming alcohol. As such, for brand owners looking to shape their future category, it’s really all about offering consumer choice to suit different occasions.”

The growth of the overall no/low-alcohol category gives brands the opportunity to cater to a much wider group of consumers. In many ways, no/low can be thought of as a solution to a gap in the market, rather than as a threat to the incumbents.

Source:IWSR