The King of the Wines

The King of the Wines

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Fiorenzo Dogliani of the Beni di Batasiolo Winery

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Exquisite Taste: The Beni di Batasiolo winery has been in the Dogliani family since 1978 – how did it come about?

It was my Grandfather who first introduced our family to wine making in the 1950s. He owned a small winery on a very small property, so in 1978, we decided to expand. We bought a bigger winery in the area of Langhe which comprised seven farms, with vineyards located in the finest Barolo wine-growing areas. We then became the proprietors of an estate which now takes in nine farms and over 100 hectares of vineyards, including 60 hectares planted with Nebbiolo from which Barolo wine is made. We called it the Beni di Batasiolo winery. Nowadays, the entire property is 120 hectares, one of the biggest in the region.

 

Exquisite Taste: So the family legacy is still going strong? 

Absolutely. The property belongs to me and my four brothers, but I am the only one that takes care of the winery. The Dogliani family name currently spans three generations, and the younger ones are already primed to continue the business! My nephew actually works for our distributing company in England while another is the Oenologist who works in our wine cellar. It’s really important to us to continue the family business after all these years.

 

Exquisite Taste: You’ve been a part of it since the very beginning. What have been your fondest memories?

I was born into wine. It has been my passion and my life’s work. As a kid, my father would send me straight to work at the vineyard after school each day, and as I grew up, he would teach me everything about working in the cellar and how to make the wine – I was only 15 years old! By the time I was 20, I was already travelling around Italy and selling the wine in Liguria, Turin and Milan. Then in 1964, I finally met my first client abroad in Belgium. Little by little we started to expand throughout Europe, and by 1968, we started distributing to the US and Canada. That was the big jump for our company. Now, we export to 68 different countries. There are jobs where you can make more money, but when you travel and see your wine in far-flung places, it’s really very satisfying.

 

Exquisite Taste: What finally pushed you to distribute abroad? Was it the demand or just a desire to grow?

There was a high factor of competition in the Italian market at that time, and although Italy was drinking a lot of wine, there wasn’t a huge demand for high quality Barolo wines, so there was a better market abroad. So, we started selling Barolo throughout the world, when the world had no idea what Barolo was! We played a big role in introducing Piedmont wines to the international market.

 

Exquisite Taste: So how have you seen the wines change and improve over the years?

There have been plenty of improvements, mostly in the way we take care of the vineyards and in the technology we use in the cellar. For example, thirty or forty years ago, there wasn’t any machinery to refrigerate the wines or preserve the fermentation process, whereas nowadays, we have the technology that allows the product to reach a much higher quality.

 

Exquisite Taste: Do you still use traditional methods or has technology taken over?

If you don’t consider the machinery that we use, the way that the wines are produced is still exactly the same as in the olden days. The reason we choose to incorporate the new machinery is down to the quality and absolute consistency it gives us, which is pivotal in premium wine production.

 

Exquisite Taste: So with your extensive experience over the years, what is the secret to maintaining a world-class winery?

The secret is actually in the vineyard – nature itself. It all depends on the sun, the soil and the surrounding environment. Following that, you also need a really good cellar and some great people working in it, like the Oenologist. They need to know every single feature of every single vineyard in order to choose the most suitable grapes. Then they need to understand everything about the grape itself and how to get the very best results. This skill is especially essential when working with Barolo wines as they are very complicated to make. Unlike many French wines, Barolo wines and all of the Piedmont wines are made using single grape varieties – no blends. So it’s essential to know how to use that grape properly. When you blend, you can play with the grapes which leaves more room for mistakes or inconsistencies. If you have a grape that is too harsh, you can add another that is softer. But working with a single grape is much more complicated. You have to use it at its best and there’s no room for mistakes.

 

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Exquisite Taste: Do you have a favourite Beni di Batasiolo wine?

As a grape, my favourite is of course the Barolo, but in terms of the wine itself, the Briccolina is always my first choice. It gets the highest scores on the Wine Spectator Awards, often either 97 or 98 on the 100-point scale. The reason it’s so great? The vineyard, even though it’s small, has the best sun exposure and a very consistent temperature, so the quality of the grapes are second to none.

 

Exquisite Taste: You were one of the first Italian wine producers to distribute to Asia – how have you seen the Asian market change over the years?

The Asian market gets more and more interesting every year. When we first started selling here, people would only want Moscato or Marchetto because they are approachable wines and the easiest to drink. Now it’s different. The Asian palates are changing. It’s more about Gavi di Gavi and Barbera – wines with real structure. The Asian palates have developed and so they appreciate more high quality wines. I think this is mostly down to the fact that the local people have been given more exposure to different wines, whether it’s through importation or the fact they are travelling more. Not to mention that we are experiencing an incredible trend right now – everyone is interested in food, wine and celebrity chefs! So again, the demands in the market are changing.

 

Exquisite Taste: So what tips would you give to the novice wine drinker?

Start with something easy and simple. If a first-time wine drinker tries our finest Barolo, chances are, they won’t enjoy it. It’s too complex for the undeveloped palate. That’s why Moscato is much better at the beginning – it’s sweet, light and much easier to drink.

 

Exquisite Taste: You’ve shaped a very impressive history – what does the future hold? 

We always strive to improve on quality, so with every day, we hope our wines will continue to get better and better.

(www.batasiolo.com)

 

For centuries, Dogliani has been a name synonymous with the distinctive wines of Piedmont. It is the family surname of the region’s legendary Barolo wine producers: the Beni di Batasiolo winery. Once considered The Wine of the Kings and The King of the Wines, Barolo is the emblem of the Dogliani’s cellar production, with four different Crus grown on the privileged hills of Monforte, Serralunga and La Morra.

 

As one of the first Piedmont wineries to distribute outside of the country, Beni di Batasiolo was a pioneer in introducing the world to Barolo wines at a time when the world didn’t know what they were. Today, Barolo is one of the most sought-after varieties in the wine industry.

 

Still owned by the Dogliani family to this day, the Beni di Batasiolo winery is one of the largest wine producers in Piedmont. The winery sits in the area of Langhe – a land known above-all for its great reds like the Barolo, Barbaresco, and Barbera d’Alba Sovrana, and its refreshing whites like the Moscato and Gavi di Gavi.

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Fiorenzo Dogliani, CEO of the Beni di Batasiolo winery and one of the five Dogliani brothers, still runs the family enterprise. He has watched the winery grow right from the very beginning when he was just a child. By 20 years old, Fiorenzo became one of the first Piedmontese winegrowers to travel extensively to promote his wines, and by age 30, he was travelling to New York and Toronto, introducing the trade and consumers alike to the joys of Barolo, an effort that helped speed the evolution of America’s palates.

 

A true wine legend, we were lucky enough to catch up with Fiorenzo on his latest trip to Asia – another corner of the earth that has been blessed with Beni di Batasiolo’s wines. He tells us about his fondest memories of growing up on the vineyard, the secrets to maintaining a world-class winery and he shares his view on the current wine scene here in Asia today.