Annamaria Clementi | The interview with Lady of Franciacorta

by Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Every wine enthusiast, probably, I drank at least a bottle. Because the Annamaria Clementi is the label of one of the most famous of Franciacorta maison Italy, Ca ' del Bosco, and the bubble made in Italy more expensive in absolute terms: the Brut version costs about 90 euro in wine cellars, The Rosé 150 euro. Champagne prices noble, In short. The wine lover and all the sommelier knows that Annamaria Clementi is the name of the mother of the founder of Ca ' del Bosco, Maurizio Zanella (now President of the Institute of protection of Franciacorta), and often believe is a label dedicated to his memory. But it is not so. Because she, Annamaria Clementi, born in Bormio the 17 April 1928, He recently turned off 84 candles and is in great shape, Despite some ailments of age and some health problem. From quite a few years, this radiant Lady âge from Beirut from 20-year-old retired in the house built by her husband Albano in Ossana, in Val di Sole, his country of birth. An Alpine-style house, tastefully furnished, that Annamaria loves define my Hermitage ", and that they just don't want to know to get away, stubborn as a RAM (her zodiac sign), Although the children and grandchildren, all allocated in Franciacorta, just waiting that you with them. ' Don't talk, I'm fine here, in the tranquillity of Ossana, among my beloved mountains», responds with a gesture Weidong of the hand motivates his choice indicating the landscape with the floor-to-ceiling windows of her house: the Valley, the slopes, the garden bounded by wooden fences, the Woods where once was always for mushrooms with Albano, gone now 13 years ago.

In the basement of Annamaria Clementi are all number 1 the vintages of Franciacorta, which bears his name, even though you – surprise – they drink no wine, and practically only Maurizio Zanella, that is a classy red blend.

The fact is, the roots of one of the most famous bubbles of Italy and bitter competitors of TrentoDoc by our House are still from Trentino. A story worth repeating, just together with Annamaria Clementi (AMC) and his son, monsieur Maurizio Zanella (MZ).

Ms. Annamaria, It tells her story?

AMC. I was born in Bormio, the second of three children, two females and, the last, a male. I lost my father very soon, I witnessed the war and fortunately my mother was a very strong woman, able to keep up at all, even the German military .... Up to the 4TH grade I lived in Bormio, then I was sent to Marcelline in Bolzano: I was there all year round, I returned home only for Christmas and summer holidays. My mother had a hotel and we brothers, When we weren't at school, did our best in the business. Bolzano was that I knew my husband Albano Zanella, which at that time was the shipper. Three months after our first meeting we were already married.


And then?

AMC. After two years we moved to Milan in search of Fortune. Maurice had two years. We were so no money, When my daughter was born my husband had to ask David to the administrator of the building where we lived to use the deposit of rent in order to get the clinic ... In Milan Albano began selling welding electrodes and then, with some friends who worked with him – one was of Bolzano – decided to bottom a firm of international transport, the Sitam. The first money earned, I remember it as if it were today, used them for an investment property. Albano had the mania of the brick and the case wanted on Corriere della Sera There was an ad selling a small piece of 2 hectares in Erbusco. We decided to go see it.


What year was?

AMC. The 1962. In addition to land there was a farmhouse called Ca ' del Bosc and the tenant was willing to sell for 3 millions of lire. We went to see the place with our children, Emanuela was very small and I asked seasoned a little water to quench their thirst: I saw her descend into a trap door in the floor and then leave with a bottle of wine filled with rainwater collection basins containing everything – frogs, lizards, insects – and then filtered with linen and boiled. It was thus that obtained drinking water at Ca ' del Bosc, because at that time there was neither well, neither electricity, or a way to reach the ...


How Come you decided to buy a place so?

AMC. My husband, In fact, was terrified. It was I that I immediately fell in love: I do not know, It was a place that had a charm all its own… So, the we bought and the first thing he did was build the pit Albano, which cost more than what we had paid for the property!


That should be your home for the weekend?

AMC. In theory, Yes. But in the meantime an opportunity happened in Bergamo, in Costa di Mezzate: selling a pretty extended cultivated wheat, There too with a farmhouse. It was all plain and I thought of dying, accustomed to mountains. Albano restored the House and manage the family plot, with 12 children, who relocated from Trentino. He knew he had economic problems, so he gave them a House and a job.


A person of great heart.

AMC. Albano was very gentle with me, He had a great heart is true, but it's also always been very hard, work hard.


Then Costa di Mezzate became your second home?

AMC. Yes, We went there on Saturday and Sunday. Ca del Bosc ' was abandoned at that time and my husband wanted to sell it: but on the hill where today there is the cellar I decided to make my home and vietai to sell. So, da Costa di Mezzate decided to settle in Erbusco. Ca ' del Bosc was handled by the family and us all Gandossi Saturdays taking the train from Milan's central station and went in Franciacorta. Maria Rosa Gandossi, daughter of factor, Today he works in Ca ' del Bosco ...


But the estate, though, It was just 2 hectares. How were things?

AMC. My husband had very large visuals and decided to give carte blanche to factor, entrusting it with a cheque book, to buy other land around Ca ' del Bosc. They were almost all commercial properties in bosco, fallow or kept evil, and often very much surprised that a few lire ... Albano's initial dream was to create a farm in Erbusco, where you would have produced fruits and bred horses, calves, pigs.

MZ. It was crazy. From a horse my father bought it ten, twenty; from some veal, shortly after sticking a whole herd. He was so ...


Anything wine?

AMC. But yeah, even a little wine, but of course we didn't think she could be the center of our business. I'm practically astemia and my husband drank very little. Even my son Maurice doesn't drink a lot ...


Maurizio Zanella nods condescending. And intervenes. «Reached the 10-15 HA, my parents began to settle the land for planting the orchard and the farm. It was then, in which was planted the first Vineyard at Ca ' del Bosc, at the hands of Franco Ziliani, the patron of the cellars Guido Berlucchi».


How Come?

MZ. The gifts that my father was at Christmas for his clients were purchased by Berlucchi. For this he was naturally ask Ziliani if for that hectare little that she intended to cultivate a vineyard, you could take him to piantargli a little Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, which at that time was the fifth Doc of Italy and was called Franciacorta Pinot.


As passed by the idea of farm in the basement?

AMC. Was the 1968 and Maurizio began to manifest, We say so, some problems in school, real Maurizio? – warns with a smile the son – . Do you think that once I gave him even an attachment in the face because I was studying and to make sure that my husband not noticing the sign that I had left, the cowboy dressed ...

MZ. MOM bad, I still remember ... However in the 1968 and 1969 Milan was the focus of the active participation of the students. When I was attending private schools I was struggle continues, then, When I was enrolled in high school When I became a Communist. But I finished school in Iseo, where I graduated in accounting, because the people rejected me twice ...

AMC. And we have also sent to England to work, for punishment!


In Short, are you Maurizio he was all alone to Iseo to attend Accountancy, until his parents arrived on the weekend?

MZ. No idea. I was fine on its own and the weekend I returned from Milan's girlfriend, so practically there ever saw my family and I.


But when the love for wine?

MZ. TO 17 years, by pure chance.

AMC. Brescian institutions, I think the agriculture councillorship, they had organized a trip-education, a wine background, in France. My husband and I decided to send Maurice.


What did you go out to visit in France?

MZ. The first cellar that we visited was Romanée Conti, in Burgundy (today is considered the most prestigious Winery in the world and the one with the most expensive wines from around the globe, ndr). The average age of the Group was traveling with was 60 years, all winemakers and winery owners in Lombardy. Arrived ahead of Romanée Conti, I remember I didn't want to get off: were the 11 in the morning, and I thought they were crazy to want to drink wine at that time. Obviously, I always get off the coach and do the tasting and for the whole trip I noticed that winemakers lombardi continued to criticize: There were vecchine that were handmade and grafts them instead – said – were smarter because they bought them in nursery and cost less; in France they had these vineyards with thick dense plants (about 10,000 per hectare), thing that forced a harvest is made all by hand, While in England he gathered the grapes with the tractor; the French used the small barrels, the barriques from 250 litres, While in Lombardy there were concrete tubs, would you put? Here's, throughout the trip I heard these things and, at one point, I lit a light bulb.



MZ. Romanée Conti degustammo In six red wines and then their white, the Montrachet, a top Chardonnay, in terms of it, all their red wines. And my fellow wine growers criticized that too. I didn't understand anything about wine and listened, but I was the only one to ask to be able to buy a few bottles as souvenirs. The Lords of the cellar they told me that they only had three bottles to sell, and second choice: cost, in current terms, about 500 euro, and I in my Pocket I had today correspondent 480 euro. So I turned to one of my fellow passengers to ask for a loan and you can buy those bottles. I gave them, without knowing what I need, and once by coach asked explanations. All rose up giving me of the crazy and saying that with money I bought here 300 of their bottles. And I realized.


He realized that it was better to produce less and sell wine at prices more than vice versa.

MZ. Exact. Our journey continued also in Champagne, We visited many interesting things and once back home I went to talk to my father.

AMC. Your father saw you, for the first time, an interesting insight ...

MZ. Eh Yes, MOM, Moreover, until that moment I had thought only to motorcycling and music ... See, my luck, During that trip to France, It was to be a Virgin, not coming from a peasant family and thereby not have preconceptions or traditions that could influenzarmi. Of the rest, in Lombardy he had sons of mass agriculture, where prevailed in favour of savings amount: the campaign was to make, This was the must and, On the other hand, the misfortune of small and rural agriculture such as the lombarda, who would have bet everything on the highest quality. In Italy the average extension of a farm I think of 1,8 hectares, How can we think about making quantity? Even today there is this mentality, It is not understood that it is the wrong way ...


Then, back home from trip to France, He speaks with his father and what happens?

MZ. My father said that if that was my idea, then, to achieve it, I had to ask for a bit of money in the Bank. Do You Think, made me believe that I went to the Bank with my mother to start a mortgage of 160 millions of lire: wanted me to think that the money the Bank had, that lent them to me to build the winery, Instead they were, Obviously, those of my father. When we did the wine cellar is not that it is imposed on how it would be, I was always made to feel unique actor of this thing, though Jim Henson from behind him. It made me feel totally immersed in this thing, I felt the actor only: It was so that I totally fell in love with this project and, in terms of passion, I was a locomotive, He has always known how to promote and foment.


And the diploma of Accounting?

AMC. Senta, hear what has combined ...

MZ. What I combined? Simply, When did the hearing I found myself in front of the professors interested in agriculture and so I took them to talk about wine, putting myself to explain them as the méthode champenoise, then the entire procedure from remuage until the disgorging. This was my Accounting exam.


In Short, Ca ' del Bosco was born from an idea of a kid ...

MZ. Yes, but mainly due to the apparent planning not a business, How does, in a sense, an artist. Ca ' del Bosco was born so: with a raging lunatic as me that went beyond the numbers and with my father, Instead, that was squaring the accounts. He did not understand, from commercial, all that job down years before placing on the market of plastic bottles, in fact, when Ca ' del Bosco for first in Italy decided to make Young my father was overjoyed: Finally an industrial product, to make and sell shortly thereafter. I was the first to make the Novello and the first one to stop doing it. And of course my father got angry a lot when we ceased with the Novello ...


But, In short, his father Albano believed in Ca ' del Bosco or not?

Yes, but it kept telling me that mine was a work of cabbage, because I was always in contact with waiters and hosts, never with accountants, lawyers, I noticed .... However, it was him, then, to have the merit of another fundamental operation.


Which one?

To get into a company as important as Santa Margherita. Was the 1994 and we found ourselves faced with a choice: stay with our 60 hectares and produce 500,000 bottles without being able to move forward in our quality project, or find someone who invested to continue growing Ca ' del Bosco. My family, of the rest, not if the felt to continue to invest in my "tantrum". So in 1994 My father found the solution, painful, but after I say fortunately, to find a reliable partner as the Marzotto family with Santa Margherita, entrance to the 60% in the business of Ca ' del Bosco, not in real estate, so much so that the winery pays rent to the family Zahid for use of real estate.

AMC. The agreement with St. Margaret's was held here in Ossana, in secret, sitting at this table where we are now. I remember there was an austere atmosphere: When my husband worked, of the rest, It was forbidden to disturb or talk. Did not have to fly a fly. And when you are angry, speaking in trentino.


Then the major shareholder of Ca ' del Bosco, today, is Santa Margherita?

MZ. Exact, but in terms of decision-making there is always a comparison – often debated-between me and Santa Margherita. Over the past 18 years we have invested 50 million euros, Zahid for the family 40%, the Marzotto for 60%: production results were excellent and unique. Santa Margherita is essential for financial aspects, insurance and economic, While the production and public relations the follow us, as well as the sales network Italy. Abroad, Instead, We think Santa Margherita, that has 8 people abroad for export.


It seems to me that the marriage between Zahid and Marzotto went well, or wrong?

MZ. It was a very nice wedding mainly because it was safeguarded the identity of Ca ' del Bosco, that represents an indisputable national wine heritage. For this reason I am very satisfied and happy: without St. Margaret couldn't do everything we did. Certain quality investments that we have seen in recent years are unique in the world…


But what was the role of Annamaria Clementi throughout this?

AMC. Watch, I've always tried to support my family. Albano went out early in the morning and returned late at night and I just see it if only for half an hour, because I knew who worked for us and I was deeply in love him, as we are still.

MZ. My mother has always protected from the wrath of my father's wide, that I often wanted to bury! For he Ca ' del Bosco was a crazy project. Annamaria has always been the mother who protects the spoiled child: It has always covered all my mischief, like that time I destroyed a brand-new Range Rover and I went to buy an identical because my father is not aware of anything ... I have always supported even at work, even when I put it into his head to make the entrance gate to Arnaldo Pomodoro, or when I decided to do a book by famous photographers to do some shots that told Ca ' del Bosco. Helmut Newton, for example, I managed to get him through a Los Angeles restaurateur friend. The economic part was a folly, I think about 80 millions of pounds of 1989, to do a week of photo-shooting with model, hairdressers, his compensation, his assistants. My father did not understand all these things ... Today, though, one of those shots, a print, I sold 200 thousand euros at Christie 's. The truth is that if there had not been my mom there would have been this Ca ' del Bosco, It would have been a more concrete cellar, more humble, would become a commercial thing. Maybe we gained more, but we would not have gone to these "visions".


Anna Maria, is proud of his son?

AMC. Certain. And it would also be my husband.

Maurizio smiles and thanks mother with a kiss. Then aggiugne: "It is for this reason that was dedicated to her the label of most important of Italy bubbles». It's lunchtime and together let's celebrate, one day in advance, Annamaria's birthday at the restaurant Antica Osteria di Ossana: the day after he crossed the finish line of 84 years of stubborn, getting to grips with indomitable men, hyperactive, brilliant. Who loved and adored for its ability to amplify their abilities and be helpful in pulling off the best, from any and all. A great woman who did great his men, Albano e Maurizio, and that today takes its spaces in his "Hermitage" of Ossana, where the doors are always open for its «jewelry», as he likes to define, the four grandchildren for whom loves to cook dumplings and tortel de potatoes, his warhorses along with lasagne.



Ca ' del Bosco has on 180 hectares of vineyard, not all properties, and a production of 1,3 millions of bottles a year, that in 2015 should arrive at an altitude 1,7 millions. The turnover is about 25 million euros. «Three years – says Maurizio Zanella – reaching the maximum of our capacity, because we believe in viticulture conducted as secret of the quality wine. This means that increased production would not be able to follow it directly and does not fall within our philosophy». The vineyards of Ca ' del Bosco are today in organic conversion: «I would like to clarify that for us it is not a matter of marketing as with many others in Italy», stresses Zanella. La cantina, a stone's throw from the exit of Rovato, It is a garden planted with vines – full of sculptures, artwork and complete with heliport – worth visiting. The core business of Ca ' del Bosco are the classic method sparkling wine Franciacorta, that is a small production of still wines.

(my article on TrentinoMese, may 2012)

2 Responses
  • Diego G.
    October 18, 2014

    I'm a former employee Sittam and I very pleased to read this beautiful story of the life of operosita’ italiana.

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