Interview with Julien Miquel, founder at Social Vignerons
- What about Italy? Have you every been here? And What did you do in the Italian Wine sector?
I worked in Italy as a winemaker for a bit over 6 months in 2006.
I actually entered the country that year on the Sunday in July just following the world cup final football game between France and Italy ( that the "Azzurri" won obviously!!). I was happy in a way that Italy had won, as it made my life easier than if the French had won for spending the whole rest of the year in Italy. ;-)
I made wine on the Tuscan Coast near Bolgheri at an estate called Caiarossa. We made ‘Super Tuscan’ wines out of many different grape varieties, mainly Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah, and Chardonnay and Viognier for the whites.
It was a fantastic experience as I was immerged in the local culture surrounded with locals. I had to learn Italian which I did in a couple of months. I also had to start talking a bit louder than I usually would, and started moving my hands while talking. ;-)
I’ve been in love with Italy and the depth of the its culture, and the kindness of Italian people ever since. Being able to speak helps immensely understanding the culture and sharing good moments.
- What you like the most about Italy and Italian Wine?
This may sound a bit generic as many people could do that same answer.
What I love most about Italian wine is the diversity. Italy is the biggest wine producing country in the world, yet the production is all broken down into myriads of small producers. Each area has its own grape varieties that are often unknown anywhere else. So exaggerating a little, one could say that all wines are very different from one another. It’s not necessarily an advantage for the country from a marketing standpoint, put as a wine lover, you could keep exploring forever and continue learning and be surprised for a very long time.
You could also argue that generally speaking, there is a strong connection still between the wines and their terroir in Italy, which amplifies the overall diversity. In Italy, each wine expresses more distinctively where it comes from and who made it than in many other countries. There has been less influence of fashion, modern winemaking techniques, usage of oak barrels etc.
My website/blog is called Social Vignerons, because I have a passion for the work of wine growers and what they express through their wines. There is a lot to discover and explore in Italy from that angle for sure.
Then pretty much all Italian wines are food-friendly which as a Frenchman is obviously important for me.
- What do you think about the quality level of Italian Wine?
I don’t think there is a generic answer to that question. Because of the diversity previously
mentioned and the sheer volume output of the country, all levels of quality are represented in Italian wine. From cheap rather ordinary stuff to some of the best wines in the world for sure. But overall I guess one could say the quality of Italian wine is pretty good. I guess one of the advantages of Italian wine as a whole, is that a lot of the lowest quality production is exported in bulk and not necessarily sold under the ’Prodotto in Italia’ label so it doesn’t hurt the country’s image. I’m thinking of the huge volumes that go into producing German Sekt sparkling wines, or cheap red table wine blends ‘from the European Union’. So generally speaking, what comes out bottle under IGT or DOP is of a rather good quality.
I shared more views about Italian wine a few years ago with winemeridian.com here.
- What do you think about Italian Wine Communication? And why are the Wine Bloggers so important internationally?
For communicating, being diverse and divided is not quite an advantage, like I described in the article on winemeridian linked above. It’s much easier to communicate on a global scale when you’re a large brand than a small producer.
Most small vignerons don’t have time or much money to spend on communication.
I think however, that with social media, we’re entering an era that allows wine producers to connect with their customers and potential customers much more easily, and cheaply. Social media allows to connect the diversity of wine drinkers around the world, to the diversity of wine producers around the globe. Everyone can find what he or she is interested in. Every wine drinker can find a wine and a story that he likes there. And every producer should be able to find people that like their wine and their story, so long as they’re on it.
It's actually like social media was made for serving the diversity in the world of wine.
That is the point of Social Vignerons, where I try to allow producers to tell their story via my website and my global social media community. I invite producers to easily share their story with me and my audience. As a consultant, I also help some producers be more effective on social media and find their customers.
The importance of wine bloggers is the continuation of this movement that is taking place with the web and social media that empowers producers and wine drinkers. By interacting with wine bloggers, wine producers can get their wines noticed on a global scale virtually for free. They don’t necessarily have to buy advertising. Same for wine drinkers, they can simply check on wine blogs what the quality of wine really is rather than paying for a subscription to a magazine that is not necessarily representative of the truth. Again, wine blogs enable consumers to learn more about wines and make informed buying decisions. They also allow producers to tell their story and ‘spread the word’ (which is the strapline of Social Vignerons) about their product.
Everyone wins with wine blogs, that’s why they are increasingly popular.
Interview by F.S.R.
Translation by Martina Pirosini