'Springboard' for Italian wine a hit with smaller producers

The Italian Trade Commission's first generic tasting gave Italian wines a long overdue boost in the UK, said winemakers who attended.

More than 60 producers showed their wines at Borsa Vini, held at Chelsea Football Club earlier this month and felt it worked as a springboard for Italian wine in the UK, especially for small er companies that don't produce too much wine .

Tommaso Venturi, of Lavacchio Fattoria in the Chianti Rufina area, described the event as "vital for Italian wines and a good way to get in touch with the trade". Roberto Ferraris, a winemaker from Agliano Terme, Piedmont, added: "It's very important to come to London because it's not easy to market our wines. It's difficult for Piedmont to make a good promotion - most of us are small producers and we can't invest a lot of money."

Fabrizio Di Clemente, director of the Commission, said the tasting was "just the beginning" of its work to boost UK sales and it had been forced to turn some producers away: "We had so many requests to participate that we had to limit the number of producers showing their wines." Next year's tasting is likely to be even bigger, he said.

Some winemakers at the event said they would be prepared to pay a higher fee to limit the number of other producers at the show. Leonardo Filotico, from Montebelli, a bio-organic winery in Tuscany, said: "We've only made about 15 contacts when we expected to touch base with more than 30. There needs to be more people, or fewer producers."

Independent retailer Chris Jackson, owner of Ambleside's Organico, said: "Over the past 10 or 15 years, Italian wine has been in the doldrums regarding decent quality in the UK. But the ethos in Italy is changing and there's a realisation that it's important to bring some of their better wares into the UK."