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Francesco Paganelli of Gruppo Cevico

Posted: Monday, 05 August 2013 11:23

Passing by: Francesco Paganelli of Gruppo Cevico

Aug 05: Francesco Paganelli, Export Manager of the Emilia Romagna’s co-operative Gruppo Cevico, was in India last week to promote the recently launched two labels each of Golden Sparrow and E’got wines claimed to be crafted specially and exclusively for the Indian palates through its distributors Aspri, writes Subhash Arora who tasted these wines and had a long chat with him at the B-(Buddha) Bar

Click For Large ViewWhile studying Indian History in my school days, I remember being taught that ancient India was known as Sonay ki Chirhiya - a ‘Golden Sparrow’ because of its immense wealth and as it had traditionally been a storehouse of the world's gold and precious jewelry.

Gruppo Cevico may not have our past history but the future in mind when they carved a wine especially for India in conjunction with their importers Aspri who mandated the import of a wine that would be reasonably priced and yet enjoyable with Indian food. Golden Sparrow currently constitutes two varietals - Chardonnay and Sangiovese which is the signature red wine from the region of Emilia Romagna  known as much for wines as foods like Parma ham, high quality Balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and fast cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati manufactured in the region.

Two more blended wines - Trebbiano-Chardonnay and Merlot-Sangiovese have also been produced exclusively for India, keeping in mind the Indian palates, says Francesco Paganelli, the export manager of the co-operative which has  18 co-operative owned wineries.

Born and raised in the heart of Emilia Romagna, Paganelli studied enology at the University of Bologna, one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1088. He has been with the company for 5 years but has around 22 years of experience, travelling to sell wines. An avid supporter of the Italian co-operative system, he feels that whereas in food, the co-operatives run supreme, in wines too, a Click For Large Viewmajority of the production is controlled by the co-operatives system which has several benefits over the family run wineries. Citing as a testimonial, he says many of the 263,000 registered wineries are either going extinct or bearing the brunt of recession and are facing the pressures, whereas cooperatives in Italy  are still growing at the rate of 2-3%; his company has seen a growth of 4% this year.

Like a majority of Italian co-operatives, Cevico did not consider exports in their business strategy till 5 years ago. Today, they have 15% of their 130 million-bottle equivalent wine production exported, with Japan, Thailand and North European countries being their biggest market. ‘Our bag-in-the-box wines are doing extremely well in the Nordic countries which prefer this style of packaging. Half of the company’s production is bulk wine with several well known bottlers like Martini etc, international brands being their major customers for decades. The 50-year old company generates an annual revenue of €125 million. Although the bottling is centralized at two big bottling plants in Emilia Romagna, wines are kept in cool tanks at various locations and the central facility decides with the help of computers how and which  wines are to be moved when, to the bottling facility in refrigerated trucks.

This is one of the very rare occasions when a winery has been working on creating a wine specially for the Indian market. ‘In that sense, it is still work-in-progress, says Francesco who feels one of Click For Large Viewthe objectives of his trip is to return with the correct feed back to enable the winery to tweak these wines to the individual tastes.

These wines have been priced to keep them competitive with the other popular entry level wines like Jacob’s Creek, with the Golden Sparrow, a vibrant label vaguely reminiscent of the colours of the Italian flag, priced at around Rs. 1000 a bottle. The blended E’got is priced at Rs.1200-1300 in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Francesco was forthright in admitting that one of the objectives of his visit was to get a genuine feedback from the various markets in India.

With a long term interest in the Indian market and its confidence in the faster growth Rs.1000- a bottle segment, Cevico and Aspri have partnered to increase their share in this popular segment.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Gruppo Cevico, Golden Sparrow, E’got, Aspri, Emilia Romagna


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