Malcolm Jolley meets FIOL Prosecco’s Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo.
Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo is a unique creature, not just because he’s a charming Italian aristocrat turned high fashion executive, living in New York with his wife, the Hollywood actor Jessica Chastain, but mostly because he makes wine he wants you to mix with other things.
Passi was in Toronto recently promoting his Prosecco DOC, FIOL. Long time readers of Good Food Revolution may recall I wrote about FIOL a few years ago, when Gian Luca’s sister Gaia and friend and business partner Giacomo Ciani Bassetti were in Toronto a few years ago, promoting the sparkling wine, which they make from Glera grapes sourced near their hometown of Treviso, east of Venice. Passi and his friends who, like him, come from wine producing families in the region, opted to make an affordable and fun wine, rather than a ‘cru’ wine, like they do in the DOCG zone, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene just to north of Treviso. I asked him why, and he explained he felt like the Champenoise had something of a head start in the luxury bubbles category and he and his friends wanted to make something that people could open easily and enjoy without making to much of a production out of it. He also wanted to make a wine that could be mixed into a cocktail. It’s this last thing that jars me: shouldn’t wine be made for its own sake?
The Aperol Spritz has become the cocktail of choice, if not the national aperitivo of Italy. An invention of Passi’s native Veneto, I have seen piazza tables speckled in orange with it in Italian towns and cities spanning the peninsula and past into Sicily. Made well, it’s quite delicious. The classic recipe a mix of Aperol, a fortified hebral drink made bitter with, and coloured by, orange peels, and Prosecco, with a splash of soda or sparkling water. The right Prosecco for a Spritz ought to be “Extra-Dry”, as FIOL is, which is sweeter than Brut. The slightly sweet Prosecco counters the bitter Aperol, and the acidity in the wine, lifts the drink. a splash of soda water keeps the alcohol in check and the legs steady when it’s time to move from the bar to dinner. Considering the Aperol Spritz makes the FIOL cocktail concept make sense.
Passi gave me a FIOL brochure with a half dozen or so simple and classic sparkling wine cocktail recipes: including one for a Spritz (they say add a green olive), a Bellini, a Mimosa, a sort of Kir Royale. He also poured me a glass of the wine. It showed well, especially for $16 a bottle (LCBO# 394577): it’s soft and balanced. The intense acidity of the Glera grape was tempered by residual sugar and fresh citrus and soft pear fruits. I think I might prefer it on it’s own, but I can see how it’s also built to be blended.
Passi and his colleagues have been busy, he told me, building relationships with mixologists in cities they export to. He also told me he planned to be in Toronto for extended stays over the summer and fall, and was looking forward to promoting FIOL in the local craft cocktail scene. To this end FIOL was a recent sponsor of the Power Ball. I wished him luck and hoped he enjoyed his stay, but I had to confess I still prefer the wine on its own.