A taste of glamour: Venice International Film Festival
Tempus visits the Venice International Film Festival with Oeno Group, to drink in the city’s magic and the romance of fine wines
Where better to fall in love than Venice? A city famous for its romance, built on a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea; at once solid and liquid, air and stone, yet constantly permeating the utmost elegance and charming the spirits of all those who are lucky enough to float through.
However, on this trip I am not to fall in love with Shakespeare’s Venetian heroines Portia (The Merchant of Venice) or Desdemona (Othello). Instead, I’m to begin a whirlwind affair with fine wine, with wine investment and hospitality group Oeno – aided by the perspicacious teachings of Italy’s renowned burgundy master Armando Castagno and against the backdrop of the glamorous Venice International Film Festival.
Oeno’s Fuorimostra Gala was held on 12 September, featuring an auction to benefit Venetian businesses struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was hosted at the Casinò di Venezia, where Oeno’s founder, Daniel Carnio, offered a private tour of the wine cellar to reveal an exceptional collection of vintages before the gala commenced.
In the casino’s 17th-century dining room, overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal, Castagno led guests on a tour through the wine list as we basked in the early evening sunshine. We began with four blockbuster Italian wines – Giuseppe Quintarelli ‘Alzero’ 1995, Tenuta di Trinoro 1998, Montevertine ‘Il Sodaccio’ 1985 and GAJA Sorì San Lorenzo 1985 – which were all divinely complex and delicious. Although educated by the wise words of Castagno, one would need to be a master of wine to properly convey the subtleties of that sublime quartet.
However, I can confidently say that one wine had powers beyond the realms of possibility of anything I had ever tasted: The Château Margaux 1990. Awarded 100 points by famed wine critic Robert Parker, this vintage owes its unique qualities to the genius of the château’s terroir as well as the passionate work of successive generations. Since the 17th century, Château Margaux has been celebrated for its production and, aging over the last 30 years, this bottle has developed an aromatic complexity and remarkable presence on the palate that results in absolute elegance.
With our tastebuds tingling, we headed to the casino’s garden to taste yet more fine Italian wines from the OenoFuture portfolio – including wines from Bibi Graetz, Rocca di Frassinello, Castellare di Castellina and Poderi Gianni Gagliardo – paired with sublime local cicchetti plates of baccalà mantecato, risotto with cuttlefish, beef carpaccio and, my favourite, folpeto; a tiny boiled fresh octopus seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
A UNIQUE VINTAGE
Carnio, a Michelin-star sommelier and serial wine investor, founded Oeno in 2015. Today, the group comprises three divisions, OenoFuture, OenoTrade and OenoHouse. Wine expert Carnio’s aim was to connect a deeply divided industry by creating a controlled climate where traders, investors, merchants and vineyard owners could all seamlessly connect under one virtual roof.
Inspired by the success of such innovative trading platforms as Robinhood in the US, which reinvented the wheel for buying and selling stocks, Carnio is passionate about converting a wide range of clientele to the benefits of investing and trading in wine. This, Carnio says, has been particularly important in recent months, with the effects of Covid-19 on traditional commodities, as investors have turned to the safer haven of fine wines, benefiting from tax exemptions across Europe.
This new way of thinking is just one of the reasons Oeno was awarded Fine Wine Investment Company of the Year at The European’s Global Business & Finance Awards 2019 and 2020.
In addition to capturing a market of individual oenophiles, Carnio’s OenoHouse division partners with high-end restaurants and bars. The brand’s next move is to open the first OenoHouse Boutique later this year – and, excitingly for British oenophiles, this concept will be launched at The Royal Exchange, London.
The excitement doesn’t stop there for Carnio and his team: while they continue to expand across Europe and Asia, they’ve also opened their first US office in New York. The next development is a mobile app, in partnership with Apple, which will allow customers to track the performance of their wine portfolio and monitor the industry in real time, ensuring the brand’s tradition of market clarity is as robust as its collection of fine wines.