Valentino Sciotti of Farnese Winery

As the owner and wine maker at Farnese Winery, Valentino Sciotti gives us his insight on the trends and challenges of the Italian wine industry today.  Sciotti carries on the royal legacy of Farnese Winery which once belonged to Princess Marguerite of Austria and Prince Octavio Farnese. Today, the winery produces a number of highly rated wines such as Edizione 10, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Colline Teramane 2006, Bronze Decanter & the Primitivo di Manduria, Sessantanni 2007, San Marzano, Luca Maroni.  Sciotti and his partner, Camillo De Illuis, ensure the quality of the wines by maintaining a strict set of standards and using state of the art equipment during the process from vineyard to bottle.  Catering to the growing interest and popularity of wine in Hong Kong and China, Sciotti held a master class at the China Club in April that included a tasting of eight award winning local red varieties. 



AP: Asian Palate  VS: Valentino Sciotti

AP: Since the current system of controlled designation of origin (“DOC” and “DOCG”) provides little guidance on quality, do you have any tips for consumers on how to choose quality Italian wines?



VS: The policy management of the designation of origin decries the assignment system of the DOCG.  If someone asks for a DOC or a DOCG, the new system gives the designation of origin without considering the area vocation and the prestige of the grape variety.  Aside from this new aspect, the certification was inadequate since it was centered on the guarantee of the processes of wine production instead of the quality of the wines. Now more than ever, the best guarantee for the consumer comes from the producer’s brand.  In our case, we do our best to provide the best product in every bottle of our wines, regardless of the price and of the designation.


AP: The Italian wine industry is quite fragmented in terms of its grape varieties, regulations, and marketing. How will that change in the future or will it remain the same?


VS: Unfortunately, this is a historic problem in our country, but at the same time, it is also our best resource. Sometimes, something that appears to be a barrier, can become a great opportunity. Many consumers these days want to discover new wines and new grape varieties after so many years of drinking Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay.  In Italy, we have more than 700 grape varieties and we can interpret a variety of terroir that are very different. The best way to interpret the wine comes from vinification. As a medium-sized company, we employ more than 10 wine specialists during the harvest. We believe the key to success is to harvest each vineyard separately in order to produce the best quality of wine in each of our bottles.


AP: Last year in HK we saw concerted efforts of Tuscan consorzios – Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino – presenting their wines on an Asian tour. Will we see this in the future among producers in Southern Italy (Abruzzo and Puglia)?



VS: It’s important to understand that in Tuscany, they’ve been promoting their wine for more than 700 years.  In Abruzzo and Southern Italy, the bottling and marketing is a very young practice.  There are wine producers associations that are still inefficient because they promote at a political level, which is inadequate. In order to face this situation, we must present ourselves as single entities and not as group of producers representing a territory and a designation.


AP: How should Asian buyers approach Italian wines, in terms of food pairing and cellaring?


VS: Italian wines, more than in other countries, are produced with food pairings in mind. Pairing wine with food is an important aspect of Italian culture.  The wine maker must take into consideration the end result during the process of making the wine.  In our culture, a wine has to be the best partner to enhance and compliment the taste of a meal and never cover it. Since Italy produces many grape varieties, it offers the opportunity to make different food pairings. Even with wine growers companies, we try to offer a range of products that will satisfy every cooking suggestion. In terms of cellaring, Italian wines are always ready to drink when they are put up for sale.  Consequently, with some exceptions, we do not suggest aging wine for more than 10 years.