The Wining Hour Speaks with a World Renown Sommelier
Andrea Gori is a sommelier. However, he is not just any sommelier. Andrea Gori is one of the most influential figures in the world of wine. In fact, he is listed among the top twenty influential figures in the world regarding wine on the web, is in the top 3 in Italy and has the most widely watched channel in Italy.
There’s more. Andrea Gori is also a host, journalist, writer, curator, professor, organizer and founder of the God Save The Wine event, member of the Foundation of Italian Sommeliers, blogger (creator of Dissapore and Intavino) and much, much more, as this is far from an exhaustive list. To learn more about this multi-faceted individual, I decided to interview him. Our interview, which was more of a friendly, intimate conversation, took place at his family restaurant, Trattoria Da Burde, where he is also, naturally, the sommelier. We spoke informally, and most of what we discussed, surrounded the following questions. Here is a transcription of our conversation:
TWH: When did you become interested in wine? And how did this interest evolve?
AG: It ‘started “in the family”. We are the fourth generation of restaurateurs in Florence. All family businesses have their own problems, such as generational changes, and the older generations don’t always leave you space. So when I found myself thinking of working with Burde, I chose wine, because it was a role that would “free” from my father and my two uncles. Then, I started to learn more about wine and to enter regional competitions. Next, I entered European and then World competitions. I tasted and sampled wines on Friday’s with my clients in the restaurant, and I filmed the tastings, wrote about them and put the videos online. And this is how the blog, the podcast channels, twitter, videos on YouTube and everything else came about.
TWH: Very good. Ok, I see you have two passions-first a passion for computer technology and, then a passion for wine. You make it seem easy. How do you it (juggle)? Or is it difficult sometimes?
AG: I always had a computer at home. To start, I got the Commodore 64 in elementary school as a gift. And since then, I never stopped using the computer-gradually with Amiga, a PC and Mac. I always used the computer to study or work, and also for research at the university. When I became involved with wine, I used the computer immediately, as well as the emerging platforms like blogs, videos and podcasts. Then, I used computers to communicate socially on the web. These platform have proven to be ideal for communicating about wine and food, two items that people are always debating and discussing willingly. But, actually the aspect that I like more than communicating about wine is the wine itself, per se.
TWH: Ah, yes, that says a lot. That’s why you are known as the Computer Sommelier! It’s clear to see.
Now, in school, you studied biology and genetic engineering. Now, you speak about biodynamic wine. Tell me, what do you mean by biodynamic and how do your passions converge here?
AG: It’s a big problem because I was among the first to speak about and to taste biodynamic wines in Italy and also to get excited about them. But for science, “biodynamic wine” is unacceptable and inexplicable, a little similar to some views of homeopathy. I am a scientist and Aristotelian; wine must transmit emotion and an experience, and this can be done regardless of whether it is conventional, organic or biodynamic. In my opinion, I think that the great wines are often biodynamic, because they are in a unique and extraordinary terroir where the sacrifice, and the chemistry, and the great attention in the vineyard make them even better. Biodynamics is fine, but it, in itself, does not make a wine better, unless the terroir in question is, indeed, extraordinary.
TWH: Thank you. Interesting. Very innovative thinking. Now..Champagne. You have been given the title of Ambassadeur deu Champagne of Italy. Please tell us about this aspect of your work.
AG: Champagne, talking about communication, is truly unique and a world apart from wine, so much that anyone who does not drink wine often drinks champagne, and willingly … It’s (Champagne) a great facilitator, that has always been used to promote celebrities, as in the time of the King of France or the European Royal Courts in 1700 and 1800 and today with Jay-Z! I like how it communicates, I like knowing how to sell it and I like to be a part of trying to understand the dynamics of communication and extraordinary marketing. It is also a big commitment because, aside from drinking it (It is not always easy to find or inexpensive to buy), it should also be studied with particular attention, more so than for other wines. But, in short, it can be a hard task that you do… if you are always under scrutiny and people expect you to know every detail of it since you are the “Ambassador of Champagne”!
TWH: I can imagine! So now, for the viewers, please tell us about GOD SAVE THE WINE (Dio Salva il Vino)
AG: Ah. God Save the Wine, is a multimedia festival that combines print, web, photo, video and physical gatherings of enthusiasts. It’s a festival focused on how to communicate about wine in an innovative, simple, direct way that goes against how the classic, typical, complicated and pompous academic methods are taught to many fans who enroll in the course for sommeliers. Compared to the courses and schools of traditional sommelier festivals and publishing products, with GSTW, we talk about wine with less reverence, more light, perhaps in a more Anglo-Saxon than Italian way. The idea is that “God Save(s) the Wine” from all those who want to make it too complicated. Wine is basically to be enjoyed and be comfortable with friends opening a bottles that they enjoy…
TWH: Wow! You are certainly innovative and very busy with the wine industry!
Now, finally on a lighter note, what type of wine(s) do you like? What’s your favorite?
AG: Well…I like fresh wines that awaken and encourage intelligence in the mouth…Wines..then Champagne, but also the “new” Chianti Classico, the wine most consumed in the restaurant. Of course, the Burgundian Pinot Noir and German Riesling…fascinating to understand and discover and are always as stimulating as the underlying terroir.
TWH: Me too. For me, though…I really love Prosecco. Wine? Oh, absolutely Amarone!
AG: That’s a big one. All of them…Barolo, Brunello, Barbaresco, Amarone…I like Amarone and Prosecco. Prosecco is a recent phenomenon but it deserves all its success. I am always happy that this type of wine was invented, and it is increasing every year in quality and quantity. Congratulations to Prosecco!
Amarone is a wine that I like a lot. It is very intriguing. It’s very rich. For me and for many fans, Amarone is considered challenging to drink with meals while remaining very good for “conversation”. In any case, at Burde, Amarone never fails. At least once a year we celebrate with it and a special, traditional dinner. It’s (Amarone) still a great wine, one with passion, strength, wealth, history, and the ability to embrace and pamper the palates of consumers.
TWH: Yes, it is. Well, that’s it for now. Thanks so much for everything and for this interview. Now…it’s time to eat and taste some wines with the innovative and muti-talented Andrea!
Despite his vast and in-depth knowledge, Andrea Gori is a very humble and unassuming person. It was both a pleasure and an honor to speak with him, get to know him better and hear his views on wine and the wine industry. It was also a pleasure to taste some of the most delicious food and wine in the Tuscan region, both curated by Andrea himself at his restaurant, Trattoria Da Burde (Caffe Burde). You can read more about that experience here (Authentic Tuscan Gastronomy Guaranteed).
To read and watch the original interview (in Italian), please see Un Intervista con Andrea Gori: Sommelier Informatic d’Italia
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