My Interview with: Olga Bussinello, Director, Consorzio Valpolicella – Italy [Women in Wine Business]

March 8th is International Women’s Day and is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, past and present. March is also women’s history month, a time to note women in history, but also women making history.

Here is my interview with one such woman, Ms Olga Bussinello, the Managing Director of the Consortium of Valpolicella wine region.

The Consortium of Valpolicella was founded in 1924 and includes the growers, producers and bottlers and regulates every aspect of cultivation and winemaking, up to promotion. This great red wine from Verona has shown a positive trend at the guidance of Ms. Bussinello. At year end 2015 it reached a turnover of 310 million euros (a 6% increase over the previous year); and where six out of ten bottles are exported.

Q   How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

A   I have had very diverse yet complementary life and work experiences. After graduating in law I worked in both public bodies and in private companies, changing workplaces and cities up until six years ago when I began my adventure as Director of the Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella. The flexibility and courage to understand when my career path had to change direction are what have made me grow.

Q   How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Consorzio Valpolicella?

A   Mainly the period I spent working in the world of agricultural associations in Rome where I got to comprehend the complexity of the relations among the various players in a production chain. Even if there are common goals, drawing together the farming world and the industrial sector is extremely difficult.

Q   What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Consorzio Valpolicella?

A   While the wines have become famous by now, instead, Valpolicella—as in the production area—is not very well known as a rural landscape. Having people get to know its genuine beauty and the history of its places is a very important challenge. Naturally, even for that which concerns the wines you have to work to keep the demand and the appeal of Amarone and the other products of the Valpolicella high.

Q   How do you maintain a work/life balance?

A   You have to reserve the same amount of attention and sensibility to work and family to establish your daily priorities. Work, just like family, is a creature and in a certain sense we have to take care of it. I do owe a lot to my husband who has always supported me and taken my place with my daughters so that I could be relaxed as I dealt with more difficult engagements.

Q   What do you think are the biggest issues for women in the wine industry?

A   The same as in the other industries: the difficulty of covering roles that historically belong to men, the stress of having to demonstrate that you’re always perfect, the inability to form a team with other women. This is the generation which, first and foremost, has to fight stereotypes and ancestral insecurities to prepare the way for the generations to come.

Q   Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

A   Many, citing just a few would be doing a disservice to the others. I like women who focus in well on their role and therefore manage to work in a team. The individualism that has to do with being used to facing many things alone can become a limitation in one’s personal and career growth path.

Q   What do you want Consorzio Valpolicella to accomplish over the next year?

A   I would like to fine-tune a format of wine and territory presentation that I am already working on, which brings out the differences between the terroirs and company styles.

Q   What do you love most about your position as Director for Consorzio Valpolicella?

A   The relationship with the member companies, going to the vineyards and the wineries, understanding the history of each and building new projects with them.

Q   What is your advice for other women entrepreneurs?

A   Don’t ever lose your enthusiasm for your work and think of each difficulty as a challenge that will help you grow

——

A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO CHAMPAGNE – some basics

[“This snippet is from a book I’m currently working on, and thought I would share it with you … I welcome your comments and suggestions.”]

BASIC ESSENTIALS

“A Girl’s Guide To Champagne” was developed for women to assist them in feeling confident in having some basic knowledge on champagne in a social setting, or identifying and choosing from diverse selections of champagne from a wine list or wine store. These can be daunting tasks for even the most fearless of women. Not now! This handbag-sized guide will arm you – yes, you – including the headstrong, adventure-loving, cocktail-imbibing, fashion-conscious women, with some basic knowledge on Champagne.

THE PRACTICAL PART

Not every wine that sparkles can be called champagne. True champagne comes from a special region in France located 90 miles northeast of Paris. Champagne has a legendary history, and has for many hundreds of years been part of many cultural events and historical traditions. This region has a combination of chalky sub-soils and cool climate, which produces the only grapes in the world that can yield the Champagne of legends!

Grape Varieties and Styles

The three primary grape varieties that that are used to make champagne are pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. The dark-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier give champagne its length and backbone, while chardonnay gives it acidity notes and biscuit flavour. There are several other grape varieties that are permitted for historical reasons, and are used occasionally.

Non-vintage

A non-vintage champagne includes a blend of grapes from several vintages. They also have a consistent style, and are made for immediate consumption. Most champagne is non-vintage. Only a few non-vintage champagnes will benefit from further aging.

Vintage

Champagne vintages are declared only for outstanding harvest years and are made from a single harvest year. The producers reserve their finest fruit for this style of champagne, adding to its desirability. Not every year is declared a vintage year.

Presitge Cuvées

This is a proprietary blend, the top of the producer’s range, and is most suitable for cellaring. The trend is that these champagnes come delivered in very expressive, distinctively-shaped, and labeled bottles. These champagnes are usually made with grapes from Grand Cru vineyards.

Blanc de Blancs

Blanc de blanc is a French term that means “white of whites”, and is used to designate champagnes made exclusively from chardonnay grapes. The blanc de blancs style is popular as an apértif due to their light, dry taste.

Blanc de Noirs

Blanc de Noirs is another French term that means “white of black”. This sounds like a contradiction, but it is not. What it tells you is that the champagne has been made only using black grapes. Champagne made from black grapes are typically full bodied with intense richness.

Rosé

Rosé champagnes are produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a short time or, the common method, by adding a small amount of still pinot noir red wine to the sparkling wine.

Sweetness (Brut to Doux)

In addition to classifying champagne styles, classifications are also used to refer to sweetness. The amount of sugar added after the second fermentation and aging varies and will dictate the sweetness level of the champagne.

• Brut Nature or Zero: 0 sugar
• Brut: dry, less than 1.5% sugar (most common)
• Extra Sec: extra dry, 1.2 to 2% sugar
• Sec: medium sweet, 1.7 to 3.5% sugar
• Demi-Sec: sweet, 3.3 to 5% sugar (dessert champagne)
• Doux: very sweet, over 5% sugar (dessert champagne)

THE FUN PART – TASTING

What can you see? What can you smell? What can you Taste? Champagne deserves your undivided attention. You need time to appreciate its colour, effervescence, savour its aromas and define its dominant impressions.

Before you pop the cork, there are a few basic tips:

• Flutes should be clean and free of any traces of detergent or rinsing agent [could cause champagne to flatten]

• Avoid all forms of perfume, i.e., personal or room fragrance [these will interfere with the appreciation of the aromas]

• Ideal drinking temperature is [8° – 10° C] – chill the bottle for 20 minutes in an ice bucket filled with ice

• When pouring, fill the glass only two-thirds [this allows the aromas to circulate]

• Once the champagne is poured, allow some time for it to open up

Colour and Appearance

Once the champagne is poured, place a sheet of white paper behind the glass try to identify the shade.

Colours can range from: pale gold; green gold; grey gold; straw yellow; yellow gold to antique gold. For rosé champagnes colours range from coral pink, salmon pink to deep pink.

How does the champagne look to you? Is it limpid, sparkling or silky?

And what about the bubbles, are they: light; fine; lively; plentiful or slow?

Nose

Once the initial effervescence has subsided, bring the flute to your nose and inhale slowly, at length and then inhale again. How do you describe the aromas? Are they floral, fruity, vegetal, or does the aroma remind you of dried fruits or some other indulgent delicacy?

Floral aromas can range from rose, lime blossom, orange blossom or violet.

Fruity smells will range from grapefruit, apple, pear, quince, peach, apricot, nectarine, mango, banana, lychee, coconut, cherry or currant.

Vegetal bouquets range from almond, grass, fern, to truffle.

Dried Fruit odours range from hazelnut, raisin to dried fig.

Other indulgent delicacy aromas include butter, brioche, toast, honey, candied fruit, vanilla and various spices.

Mouth

Champagne reveals its complex personality best on the palate. Try rolling the champagne around your mouth – there is bound to be a dominant impression.

How does the champagne feel?
Does it feel powerful, solid, comforting, smooth, light, mature, or opulent?
Now how would you describe the impression?
Is it creamy, delicate or complex?

Go ahead and enjoy what is hiding inside your flute!

Liz Palmer
@champagnehouses

The Association “Femmes de Vin” at Vinexpo

For the second year the “Femmes de Vin” Association was present at Vinexpo showcasing their wines.

The Circle of “Femmes de Vin” was created in 2009 by two passionate wine producers: Chantal Pégaz from Beaujolais and Marie-Laurence Saladin from Côtes du Rhône.

The Circle of “Femmes de Vin” brings together regional associations of female wine producers, who have common passions for defending, on a daily basis, the land, countryside, environment, wine production and the flavours of the French appellations. The regional associations consist of:

• Les Aliénor du Vin de Bordeaux www.bordeaux-lesalienor.fr
• Les DiVINes d’Alsace www.divinesdalsace.com
• Les Eléonores de Provence,www.leseleonoresdeprovence.blog4ever.com
• Les Etoiles en Beaujolais, www.etoiles-enbeaujolais.com
• Les Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne, www.fevb.net
• Femmes Vignes Rhône, www.femmesvignesrhone.com
• Les Vinifilles en Languedoc-Roussillon, www.vinifilles.fr

“Divided, but not against”, the men, fathers, brothers, husbands, friends… they won’t be far away! Each of these women, who are content and blossoming in their work, has a story and a clear career path. “Girls of”, “women of” or “business women from elsewhere” are all “creators of wine” fulfilling their dreams!

SCIENTISTS FINALLY LEARN WHY ALCOHOL IS GOOD FOR YOU

When you raise a glass to toast with champagne this Thanksgiving, you are doing your heart a favor, according to a new study.

The results of the study revealed how moderate alcohol consumption can help to prevent heart disease by blocking the signals of molecules linked to plaque build-up in arteries. The molecules, called “Notch” proteins, are vital to embryonic development, and in adults, they help control the tiny, involuntary muscles that regulate blood flow though arteries. When Notch molecules are stimulated — by high levels of cholesterol, smoking or changes in blood flow — they spur these smooth muscle cells to multiply, which can lead to development of arterial plaques, said study researcher Eileen Redmond, an associate professor in the department of surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

But when these smooth muscle cells are exposed to alcohol, the Notch signaling is blocked, and the cells in the arterial wall don’t grow and thicken, Redmond said.

Drinking “small amounts, regularly, is how to get the best effect,” she told MyHealthNewsDaily. “It’s the people who drink one to two drinks a day who have the best protection” from heart disease. However, large amounts of alcohol and binge drinking can be harmful to the heart and can lead to stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

The study was published Nov. 18 in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
Testing the Theory Researchers grew cells from human coronary arteries in dishes, and exposed them to alcohol. They found that alcohol stopped growth of the arterial cells by putting the brakes on the signaling abilities of Notch, Redmond said.

Then, the researchers tested the effects of alcohol in mice. They gave one group of mice the equivalent of two alcohol drinks a day, and another group no alcohol. Mice given the alcohol had less Notch signaling, and their blood vessels walls were thinner than the mice that didn’t drink, according to the study.

The finding demonstrates how alcohol works to benefit the heart — and paves the way for future research for a drug that can mimic alcohol, Redmond said. “If we can understand the mechanisms mediating the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption, we can develop therapy that can mimic good effects without the intoxicating and deleterious effects of alcohol,” she said.

Real-life Applications

The finding supports evidence from other studies that modest alcohol consumption is good for heart health. A study presented at an American Heart Association meeting this month found that male heart bypass patients who drank lightly or moderately were less likely to need another heart procedure or suffer a heart attack or stroke than patients who didn’t drink.

But what counts as a “healthy” dose of alcohol? The Mayo Clinic recommends healthy women drink no more than three drinks on one occasion, or seven drinks a week, and healthy men ages 65 and younger drink no more than four drinks per occasion, or 14 drinks a week. Healthy men ages 65 and older should drink no more than three drinks per occasion, or seven drinks a week.

A 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits counts as one drink, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Salud!

My Health News