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London’s first Italian wine specialist opens

London’s first specialist Italian wine merchant has opened with the biggest selection of Italian wines in the country.

Vini Italiani in the upmarket district of South Kensington is run by a group of Italian entrepreneurs and lists more than 500 wines from Italy.

All 20 Italian regions are represented, with some 100 wines listed in each of Piedmont and Tuscany, with Lombardy, Friuli Veneza-Giulia, Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige and Sicily listing around 40 wines each.

‘From the top of the range wines like Sassicaia or Ornellaia and the best producers like Gaja or Biondi Santi to new, unknown biodynamic wines uncovered by our “roaming sommelier” in Italy, VI will offer the most varied and interesting range of “known-to-unknown” Italian labels in the UK,’ it says in a statement.

Prices range from £10 to £1000, with half the labels costing less than £30.

Opening just before Christmas, co-founder Matteo Berlucchi told Decanter.com it was too early to have an idea of the popularity or otherwise of certain lines.

But, he said, he was confident that Italy is ‘such an established market’ that it was perfect for a specialist retailer.

Moreover he said they offered a point of difference to the ‘commoditised chain shops’ of the high street that had no passion for what they were selling.

He said that in the few weeks they have been open they have noticed customers tend to shop by grape varieties rather than appellation.

‘It’s a key difference: people come in wanting Nero d’Avola or Sangiovese, rather than asking for Piedmont or Tuscany.’

He added, ‘and as we’re in South Kensington we get the odd Russian millionaire coming in and saying “Give me the most expensive bottle in the shop”’ – which at that stage would probably have been Barolo Monfortino Riserva Magnum from Giacomo Conterno, at £845.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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