Amovino is the name of a new agency making its mark on the BC wine scene. It’s the brainchild of Jessica Luongo and Marisa Varas. They’re a couple of smart, young women who decided to pool their experience and resources.
I’ve been following this new enterprise with interest.
I got to know Jessica Luongo during a visit to the Veneto, some 18 months ago. At the time I was impressed not only by her knowledge but also by the plans she was developing for their agency. Oh, and she’s lots of fun. As is Marisa.
But these two are serious about what they do.
What’s particularly interesting is how they’re building their portfolio. By concentrating on lesser known wines they’re already carving out a niche for themselves. The wineries they’ve chosen to represent are catching the attention of wine geeks. Read: savvy young sommeliers. Not to mention people who generally appreciate more esoteric tastes,
Amovino also has a knack with social media (they come by it naturally). That alone should serve as a lesson to some folks I can think of who still don’t take it seriously.
Inclined to ‘real’ wines
Amovino focuses a fair bit on natural wines, which are a hot topic these days. I asked them what they would say to people who haven’t yet tried natural wines. (They like to call them ‘real’ wines.)
“If people are concerned with where their food comes from, they need to understand what’s being put in their wine,” says Luongo. She says wine drinkers should have a good look at the brands they’re buying and what’s in their cellar..
“First and foremost, new labeling rules are going to open that up a lot. People are going to start wondering ‘where does this come from, how was it made, and how did it get here?'”
Varas says first time wine drinkers should judge a wine by its taste.
“It really should be more about if they like it. If they do, then explain how much that’s part of it.”
Amovino suggests the best thing is to ask questions and understand where the wine comes from.
I’ve had a couple of opportunities to taste through their growing portfolio. I appreciate what they’re doing to try to shape different tastes.
Here’s the News
Here’s the story from this weekend’s North Shore News …
Jessica Luongo is no stranger to wine. She used to work for her grandfather. Larry Luongo is a successful, longtime importer who’s a fixture on the Vancouver scene. That was until the granddaughter decided it was time to strike out on her own. And did so with her Nonno’s full blessing.
Luongo teamed up with business partner Marisa Varas to form their own agency. Amovino Distributors (a wickedly smart name) is already singing a very different tune. This youthful North Shore duo is promising to rewrite the book on “How to Run a Smart Wine Agency.” Amovino is all about introducing consumers to new tastes and ideas.
The secret of success lies in the specific wines you choose—and how you bring them to the market. While mainly working with imports, Amovino recently signed with Blue Grouse.
Amovino: changing tastes
Luongo and Varas are tapping into a shift by informed drinkers. They’re moving away from commercial styled or sweet tastes, opting for more nuanced wines. Much of the time they’re made with ‘minimal intervention’ or naturally.
Luongo says they like to use the term ‘Real Wine’ and all that entails. However, she insists: “We don’t want to be dogmatic or religious about natural wine and how to define it.”
“We try to work with small lot wineries, family producers—people who care about what they’re putting in their wines,” she says. She compares natural or ‘real’ wine to the Slow Food movement.
Amovino does focus on representing organic, biodynamic and natural producers—but not in every instance.
“As long as people are caring and their messages and ideals align with ours, that’s what counts.” “Plus ‘quality’ and ‘delicious,’ of course!”
Says Varas: “The fact that they’re organic and made with intention is just a side note.”
“We like to say: ‘the wines are great—and by the way, did you know they’re made organically?’”
As I nosed through this happily esoteric portfolio I found more than few good drops. These are wines that require you to think a little outside of the box but reward you for your curiosity. Here’s a fun foursome worth a look …
• SYN + ‘white dot’ Moschofilero Roditis 2015
Yes, this Greek wine is a bit of a mouthful in more ways than one. But Moschofilero (think ‘Moscow- fill-ero’) is fun to discover, especially this. Up front floral notes and wicked, bright acidity plus a streak of saline with zesty lemon peel in the end. With summer right around the corner, one sip and maybe a little tzatziki and you’ll be dreaming of Santorini. (Screwcap) $21 – 90 pts. PWS
• Tinita Vinas de Verdejo 2015 (DO Rueda)
Some serious Verdejo to prime your summer tapas palate. Pretty gold in the glass and stone fruit on top. Limestone soils deliver wicked mineral intensity. A polished, complex, well textured middle of apple and citrus notes. Plus a lingering but clean end. Organic / biodynamic 91pts. $25. PWS
• SYN Mountain Fish Agiorgitiko 2014 (Nemea)
‘Agiorgitiko’ means ‘St. George’s grape’. Up front black fruit with refreshing, juicy acidity. Pleasing, mulberry and herbal notes with a touch of earthy spice and a lengthy finish. BCLS $18.99 – 90 pts.
• Cerejeiras Tinto 2015 (Lisbon DOP)
A good value, lip smacking Portuguese blend of mainly Castelao (60%) plus Aragonez and Touriga Nacional. Perfect to kick off barbecue season. Plush, rounded red fruit with a vibrant, red current and raspberry palate. Easy tannins and some spicy notes. All hand harvested and not a toothpick in sight. c. $15 – 91 pts. PWS. Also by the glass at Nightingale.
Other Amovino reviews to come.