Oenologist of the year for the Guida 2006 Gambero Rosso - Slow Food: Gianni Menotti, manager of the wine-producing company Villa Russiz in Capriva del Friuli (GO).
The award was confirmed by Giulio Colomba, international Vice President of Slow Food and area editor of the guide: "His success in the wine-tasting sessions was unquestionable: two wines were awarded Three Glasses and other six were awarded Two and a Half Glasses. Gianni Menotti, through his high competence and attention to detail, has achieved an important goal, that is to show that even public companies can make quality products and have a top-class attitude".
Born in his family's house in Sagrado on 13th September 1955, Gianni Menotti is born into the profession, as his father, Edino, had been running the business for 35 years before Gianni took over in 1988 and became the manager of Villa Russiz. "My temper and my commitment to do things in the best possible way have always led me to improvement. My challenge was to make the people who work with me share my own objectives in order to produce first-class wines. High-quality wines. The freedom I had in choosing the right techniques was a sort of turning point for me and my company - Menotti recalls, moved and extremely pleased with himself, while he goes on saying: - the whole of Villa Russiz staff has worked very hard over all these years, believing that quality pays. And, as a matter of fact, Villa Russiz is nowadays a small virtuous example of how successfully public money can be invested".
With regard to his work as oenologist and his sensitivity in creating new excellent products, Menotti claims: "I always do my best to translate the features of the land into the wine I make", adding: "I don't have any special recipe for making wine, it is this land and its unique characteristics and the climate that make the difference...it is what the French call terroir. The most important part of the job is done in the vineyard. I think that what I am pursuing in wines, as in life, is balance. A well-balanced wine is never sharp, it has a pleasant touch that seduces the expert, but that can also be enjoyed and immediately understood by the non-expert."
"What makes the Collio wines so special is the Collio itself", according to Gianni Menotti (who acquired the palm for the Best Italian White Wine with the Chardonay Gräffin de La Tour 2000). In his view, the success of Villa Russiz is due to this area across boundaries, from the land and its soil composition to the microclimate of the region.
The vineyards of Villa Russiz are part of the marvellous Collio landscape, in superb wine country blessed with an ideal climate and soil types for growing grapes.
In this stupendous setting, the story of Villa Russiz, and the benefactors who promoted the Institute, is tied doubly close to the viticultural heritage.
The surroundings are perfect. Today, as two centuries ago, the attention of the Villa Russiz staff is concentrated, in vineyard and cellar, on achieving the highest possible quality.
This is how, over centuries of passion and experience, the magical setting of the Collio has brought forth the successes of Villa Russiz.