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Summergate announces deals with Ricasoli and clutch of major Italian producers

Summergate Fine Wines has announced a 'major expansion' of its range from Italy, amid China's growing taste for top Italian wine.

Francesco Ricasoli: in China exclusively with Summergate

Summergate, which has offices throughout China, said the decision follows ‘tremendous growth momentum’ for Italian wine in the country.

The importer has signed deals to be the exclusive distributor for Chianti Classico producer Barone Ricasoli and Brunello di Montalcino producer San Polo – owned by Allegrini – as well as Tuscany’s Poggio al Tesoro, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo’s Emidio Pepe and Barolo producers Beni di Batasiolo and Luciano Sandrone.

Exports of bottled Italian wine to China have almost quadrupled since 2008, reaching 25m bottles in 2011, according to figures from China’s customs body.

‘We see interest in higher value wine from Italy on the rise, hot on the heels of Burgundy, up from a relatively low base in terms of value to date,’ Summergate managing partner Ian Ford told Decanter.com. ‘Chianti Classico has all the hallmarks of becoming one of the next big trends.’

Barone Ricasoli’s marketing director Stefano Capurso said the deal with Summergate is a good opportunity after years of ‘struggling’ in China. ‘Our goal in the medium-term is to reach 5,000 to 6,000 cases in Greater China,’ he said.

To be successful at the top end of the market, Italian winemakers must hope to loosen Chinese consumers’ attachment to prestigious French chateaux.

‘I think it’s fair to say Italian wine doesn’t have the awareness levels of France in general, and Bordeaux in particular, but the buzz in the trade over the past six months has been more positive,’ Richard Halstead, chief operating officer of Wine Intelligence, told Decanter.com.

Prior to its new deals, Summergate’s Italian wine range in China also included Livio Felluga (Friuli), Allegrini, Corte Giara (Venice) and Sicily’s Tasca d’Almerita.

Written by Chris Mercer

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