Lazio owner Sergio Cragnotti premiered his wine in London yesterday along with fellow wine lover Sven Goran Eriksson.
Cragnotti – troubled owner of the Italian football club as well as food empire Cirio del Monte – established Tuscan winery Corte alla Flora in 1998. He has resigned as president of Lazio but still owns the club, though it is now for sale.
Yesterday he released three wines onto the UK market for the first time and invited the England manager and his partner Nancy Dell’Olio along to taste them at Italian restaurant San Lorenzo in Knightsbridge, London.
The wines – a Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, and a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOC and Riserva have been well-received by the press. Italian good food and wine guide Gambero Rosso gave a ‘1 Bicchiere’ (one glass) award to the 2000 Rosso and the 1999 Vino Nobile. They are priced between £11.50 and £16.50 (€18-24).
Cragnotti’s son Andrea, who works for Corte alla Flora as marketing director (his brother Massimo is a Lazio director) said they also plan to produce a ‘Super Tuscan’ outside DOC and DOCG regulations, a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Eriksson (pictured) – a former Lazio manager and friend of Cragnotti – pronounced the wine ‘very good.’ Asked if he would like to get into the wine business himself he told decanter.com, ‘I’m only interested in it for drinking. Except for when I retire.’
Dell’Olio, who comes from Rome, said she liked the wine very much. She added that as an Italian she had wine connections, ‘but only through my father, who makes wine for himself and his friends.’
Cragnotti is one of an august group of owners, managers and players who combine football and wine. Jean Tigana, manager of London-based Fulham FC, owns Domaine de la Dona Tigana in the South of France, Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United has a passion for fine wine, and former international David Ginola has frequently spoken about his dream of buying a domaine in the South of France.