Today I have dared a deliberately provocative title that I hope you will understand after reading my article. Of one thing, however, I am absolutely certain: to place side by side a wine, which is nothing more than the product of the passion and culture of one or more artisans, with the work of another artisan company that operates according to quality criteria, is not only not a lack of finesse as the esteemed Franco Ziliani writes, but is an exemplary format.
First of all, I want to make three premises:
- if I had not read this morning this article on the blog of my colleague Franco Ziliani I would never have written this article because I am not a polemical person by nature.
- I didn't want to talk more about Riccardo Fratus and his splendid Franciacorta wines because this is something I have done several times here on the blog... but if you want some more information on this company, I invite you to read La Riccafana and Riccardo Fratus's bio-franciacorta e Classical Method lesson at Riccafana for the Franciacorta Festival.
- Gaining a certain notoriety on and off the web does not mean being outside the rules. The Internet cannot be a free zone where there is no law and where a journalist/wine blogger can associate the name of a known fraudster with an honest company with impunity.
On my Facebook wall, a sterile controversy arose from the fact that I wrote an indignant comment to the episode of Report 'Under the Stars which aired on Rai 3 last night and that you can look at this link.
A Michelin star changes the life of a restaurant and the chef, but Gambero Rosso forks and Espresso hats can also make the fortune of a chef, who can then participate in television programmes, national and international culinary events, get sponsors, become a consultant, lecturer and found schools. But grabbing stars, hats and forks has a price. What is it?
Report - Rai 3, Investigation by Bernardo Iovene with the collaboration of Carla Falzone and Ilaria Proietti
It was a beautiful episode, an extraordinary piece of investigative journalism that I watched thanks to the recommendation of my dearest friend... and yet it reminded me why I haven't watched television for years: it makes my blood bitter.
"You only have to watch Report on Rai3 now to understand why I decided to make my own Sparkling Wine Guide... what a shame!"
Here's the 'incriminated' post on my Facebook wall that triggered Ziliani 🙂 🙂
In short, for this statement in which I bitterly comment on the lack of seriousness and corruption that revolves around the world of Guides in Italy, I took a line of comments from journalist Franco Ziliani who, among other things, called me presumptuous and obnoxious.
Valerio Visentin is the latest food journalist to go incognito. He edits the column 'Mangiare a Milano' (Eating in Milan) for the Corriere della Sera. His signature is known, but not his face.
Bernardo Iovene - Report Rai 3
Presumptuous? As I replied to him, neither in Report nor in my post is there any mention of my or anyone else's competence to perform a particular task. It is about the value of the guides and above all the honesty with which they are constructed.
Theoretically [the guides] would be a booklet to consult when choosing where to go for dinner. But this is not the case because the great guides do politics, they distribute commendations, special mentions, there is a round of sponsors... there is a return... there is a whole induced activity that feeds this carousel of chefs and critics.
Valerio Visentin, food and wine critic for 'Mangiare a Milano, Corriere della Sera'.
My problem arises if Franco Ziliani makes comments 'at random', without perhaps having seen the episode of Report and consequently without knowing what I am referring to with my Facebook post, and without even reading what I write (after my more than exhaustive reply he continued to beat the same nail). So I am not at all surprised by this attitude, since this morning I read an article on his blog where he slanders the Riccafana company without having probably ever drunk anything from it.
Ah, the 'discovery' (as he calls it and which I will now tell you about) that Ziliani made was made on my Facebook wall, where I shared the event of this company that I attended in person, and therefore I feel obliged to give my point of view on the subject as well.
For the past few months, Riccardo Fratus, owner of the Franciacorta Riccafana wine cellar, has been organising monthly aperitifs and brunches where he not only hosts qualified local restaurants, but also gives space to young or historic wineries from the Brescia area. As the ITALIAN owner of a Web Agency dealing with web and communication, I can only congratulate Riccardo on this activity, supported by my dear colleague from Franciacorta, Roberto Premoli, and the talented Alma Tortelli (if only there was one for each cellar... however, to the other companies interested, I would like to point out that she has a twin sister identical to her, although I don't know what she does! You can try to hear her 😀 ) Alma is a young and beautiful girl of rare education, intelligence and preparation! As well as the now famous and scandalous 'doctor' XYZ answering the phone number 111222444 quoted by Ziliani.
But let us see together why what Riccardo Fratus and his staff 'did' to be put 'in the dock' by Ziliani.
Art in the Cellar
On Friday 24 February, the Riccafana company hosted the young and talented Chef Alessandro Ferrera of the Templari Restaurant in Brescia for a delicious fish aperitif paired with its Franciacorta Satén Riserva 'Eredità'. On the same evening, the 3 vivacious girls of theFactory 3 of Palosco, a very young creative handicraft workshop for designing and making decorations and restorations created by Irene Gatti, Simona Locatelli and Miriam Vodopivec. As an art lover, I can only congratulate these girls who are really good and, like me, deeply love their work.
On the same evening, she exhibited her magnificent plexiglass lamps, of which one in particular really impressed me, the talented artist Silvia Tagliabue .
On this occasion, Riccardo Fratus presented his Franciacorta D.O.C.G. Satén Millesimato Inheritance of the Fratus line (a classic method sparkling wine that is a must-try, with notes of candied orange, melted butter, freshly baked biscuits and a truly remarkable creaminess in the mouth).
Brunch, Fashion & Bubbles
On Sunday 24 March, the Riccafana company hosted a historic hosiery company Andre from Desenzano del Garda in Brescia (the delightful owner Paola has also worked with Marni) and, since we were talking about fashion, the presence of Elisabetta Lazzarini, a stylist and pattern-maker who, in addition to creating unique garments with precious fabrics, selects small Made in Italy companies and makes them known throughout Italy with her travelling exhibitions, was perfectly 'fitting'. Finger food and Franciacorta risotto by chef Mattia Manfroni of The new Rimini of Cazzago San Martino - Brescia (What a pleasure to find an almost fellow countryman right here!).
Now, I certainly support 'Made in Italy' with all my heart, especially at a time when we are being invaded by chinoiserie of all kinds, so I can only support Riccardo Fratus for his promotion of territorial excellence. But apart from that, honestly speaking, I don't see anything wrong with presenting a sparkling wine in partnership with a restaurant and, why not, an artist or a designer! I welcome multidisciplinary days, capable of bringing people closer to a particular world who, in other ways, would never have been interested.
Lastly, a few words on wine... which really should be the real star of any wine blogger's article. I count Riccardo Fratus' Franciacorta D.O.C.G. Zero Zero as one of the five best Franciacorta wines marketed this year. The 12-month version of Zero Zero came about because, being an organic, sugar-free and sulphite-free wine, the company started from here before arriving at its 24-month version. I agree with Franco Ziliani that using the same label for both versions, from a communication point of view, is definitely a mistake... although I don't think people are misled since these wines are not sold on a supermarket shelf. In particular for the version of Zero Zero 12 months, it is a test pallet that has not yet been put on the market and therefore does not yet have its own label. An oenological experiment that Riccardo had us test at this event even before deciding whether to market it on its own. For this reason the same bottle is not present on the Riccafana website where only the 24-month version is listed and the correct designation 'Franciacorta D.O.C.G.' is more than evident. Then, as someone who deals with web and communication for a living, I can only advise Riccardo Fratus, should he decide to market the 12-month version of this sparkling wine as well, to keep the current Zero Zero label, but changing its colour to make the two products immediately distinguishable.
As for the 12-month version of the Zero Zero... it has a nice crisp bubble, a great cleanliness on the nose and in the mouth, and is certainly a pleasant quality sparkling wine for an aperitif with not too seasoned cold cuts and fish, even cooked for a long time.
Are the dinosaurs of communication 'committing suicide' at the sight of rising stars?
The 334 Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy invoice a total of 260 million. One star has an average turnover of 700,000 €, two stars one million one hundred, three stars even one million five hundred. To all this, the great Michelin-starred chefs also add the €600,000 they earn on average from non-restaurant activities when they are at the peak of their success and come from TV appearances, commercials, publications... [...] But what is there under the stars?
Studio Sigfrido Ranucci - 'Under the Stars' report
Under the stars there are the unpaid interns because the pay 'is what the chef gives you' (but he makes 4/8 million euro turnover per year...). And am I being presumptuous if I don't agree with a system that exploits the dreams of young people and makes them work for free to the point of exhaustion behind the scenes while the designer chef on duty is a guest on TV?
And let me be clear, I esteem the Michelin Guide and many restaurants awarded in it. What I do not esteem is the system that revolves around the Guide... its satellites in short. And I have every right to write about it on my personal Facebook profile.
I refer to the third premise with which I wrote the article:
Gaining a certain notoriety on and off the web does not mean being outside the rules. The Internet cannot be a free zone where there is no law and where a journalist/wine blogger can associate the name of a known fraudster with an honest company with impunity.
Dear Franco Ziliani, I have bad news for you: preparation, as well as talent, study, dedication and passion, are not directly proportional with increasing age. So, as I respect your work, I invite you to respect mine, and to avoid certain exits on Facebook and anywhere else. Regardless of whether or not I am your daughter's age. Indeed, precisely because you have a daughter the same age as mine you should encourage young people instead of demolishing them because they do not have your experience. But then... Since when is age automatically synonymous with experience?
I have never made myself look good about my blog's audience... because I am not conceited (as you claimed) and have never lacked humility... but I can always start 😉
Alexa is a US subsidiary of Amazon.com which does statistics on website traffic (rank) and is the most famous indicator of the traffic, i.e. the popularity, of a website. Obviously this is public data, and will never be the exact science of Google Analytics' private data, but it is nevertheless one of the metrics (surely Alexa is the most historical and important voice among those dealing with public rankings) on which companies rely before buying advertising on a given website/blog. Moreover, as Alexa itself states, for websites that enter the rankings from position number 1 to position number 100,000, it is quite reliable (so as this screenshot with today's data for Perlage Suite and Vino al Vino shows, it can be defined as quite true data... while Le Mille Bolle Blog seems not to have a sufficient rank/traffic in Italy to be correctly analysed by Alexa). The lower the number, the higher the website traffic. At number one in Italy we have Google, the blog/magazine of Luciano Pignataro is travelling around the 4,000 position, Intravino slightly exceeds position 13,000 e the Golosario of dear Paolo Massobrio and Marco Gatti settles around position 48,000 (all very good!!). As you can see from the screenshot, Perlage Suite runs around the 50,000 position, Ziliani's Wine to Wine almost 80,000 and the Mille Bolle Blog where the article on Riccafana appeared has too low a rank to enter this ranking. Ah, if you have a website and want to see how popular it is, you can try this free Alexa tool by clicking HERE.
Apart from the numbers, which prove my professionalism right, a journalist/blogger must, in my opinion, correctly evaluate a product or service without ever defaming the company and always with full respect for his work. And above all, he should refrain from publishing a sentence like this:
In short, refrain from associating honest professionals and companies such as Riccafana, Bfix (the communication agency of my colleague Roberto Premoli who takes care of Riccardo Fratus's events), Calze Andre and fashion designer Elisabetta Lazzarini with the telesales of swindlers of the calibre of Wanna Marchi. I would personally ask Franco Ziliani to publicly apologise to 'the French company' and to the other companies I have just mentioned for the absurd comparison.
By the way, forgive me! I'm from Romagna and can't speak Italian!
In short, Franco Ziliani states that one must "parlà bresà' (I think it means 'to speak Brescian'). Since I am of Romagnola origin and do not speak Brescian, would you please translate into Brescian de l'esprit de finesse mentioned on Franco's blog? And then if he is so territorial why doesn't he like the Franciacorta - Aziende del territorio pairing?
And now back to work... I'm off to France for the awards ceremony of the Millesima Blog Awards in Bordeaux and I have a lot to do!
Chapeau to Riccardo Fratus, from the heart.
P.S. and a piece of advice to dear Franco Ziliani, since he always gives me so much of it: at 3.40 a.m. it is better to sleep or make love, than to write articles that only feed sterile polemics. I believe that Franco Ziliani has in the past been a journalist who spoke about wine with full knowledge of the facts (although one person in my presence called him an endangered dinosaur lately acting 'media suicide'.... but we say the sin and not the sinner ...), but lately he is really exaggerating ... and a journalist, in my opinion, should not even allow himself certain things because they are not in line with the code of ethics of the BOD itself! I, on the other hand, am sincerely sorry to see culture fall into useless polemics. And then, to criticise a wine cellar (i.e. the work of so many people) without even having visited it and without perhaps even having tasted one of its wines (at least recently!)... are we sure that this is an indication of the good taste so extolled by Ziliani himself?
Go there, let's all watch the Report episode together at this link and get back to talking about wine and cooking, which is better!
P.P.S. And nothing, I still eat Parmigiano Reggiano. Even though I have never been given the cheese because I don't have 1, 2, 10 or 100 Michelin stars. I like it better than Grana Padano. What do you want? I'm young...