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Piedmont Pioneer Batasiolo Aims To Drive Barolo To New Heights

December 23, 2011

Fiorenzo Dogliani, CEO of Piedmont wine producer Beni di Batasiolo, was among the first to bring Barolo wines to international prominence in the 1970s. Today, his company sells wine in 68 countries—with the U.S., Canada and Europe its most important markets—but Dogliani is increasingly focusing on raising the profiles of both Batasiolo and Italian wine in general in developing markets like Asia.

The Dogliani family has grown wine for three generations, but the current incarnation of the company—and its Batasiolo moniker—was born in 1978 with the acquisition of the Chiola winery in the La Morra area of Piedmont, which made it the largest family producer in the region with 120 hectares (297 acres) of vineyards. Batasiolo’s 70 hectares (173 acres) of Barolo account for around 10% of total Barolo production. In addition to Barolo, Batasiolo markets a range of both sparkling and still wines including Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba, Moscato d’Asti and Gavi among others, as well as a number of grappas, producing a total of around 5 million bottles annually.

Batasiolo’s flagship wines are its four single-cru Barolos: Corda della Briccolina and Boscareto, both from Serralunga d’Alba; Bofani from Monforte d’Alba and Cerequio from La Morra. Production ranges from 9,000 to 14,000 bottles across the single-crus, which sell for between $80 and $100 a bottle. Wine Spectator recently awarded the 2006 vintages of Corda della Briccolina, Boscareto, Bofani and Cerequio scores of 95 points, 92 points, 93 points and 93 points, respectively.

“The four single-cru vineyards have very different elevations and exposures, which gives us a diverse offering of styles within Barolo,” says Dogliani. “Because we have a large area of production, we can also keep up quality on our classico Barolo ($35–$45 a bottle) even in lesser vintage years,” he adds. The 2006 Beni di Batasiolo Barolo recently rated 92 points in Wine Spectator.

In the U.S., Batasiolo’s wines are imported by Boisset Family Estates and sell around 50,000 cases a year. The on-premise accounts for roughly 70% of the group’s U.S. sales. “The rest is all wine shops and specialty shops. We don’t have any chain or grocery business,” says Dogliani. “We’ve managed to keep growing in the U.S. and maintain sales worldwide through the downturn because we have the scale to balance price and quality. That’s a much more difficult task for smaller producers.”

Dogliani says Batasiolo’s Moscato d’Asti, priced around $16.99 a bottle, is holding steady in the U.S. at around 10,000 cases in a hot category where most of the growth is taking place around the $6 to $9 mark. “There’s obviously a peak in lower-priced Moscato right now, but I think it will fall back,” he says. “A lot of people are planting Moscato in Chile, Argentina, California, even France and Spain, thinking the boom will last forever, but the market will eventually be flooded.”

While reaching out to the U.S. and other key export markets, Batasiolo has also made efforts to make the Barolo area more welcoming for wine tourism. Its Il Boscareto Resort & Spa, the first five-star hotel in Serralunga d’Alba, contains restaurant La Rei, which boasts a 1,200-label wine list. La Rei was one of 33 venues across Italy granted their first Michelin stars this year.

 

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