Rating of wines sampled = 10
Hospitality of tour and visit = 0
On our visit to Tuscana in Sept/Oct. 09, Fontodi was on our to-do list and highly recommended by our local wine store. After making an appointment 2 weeks earlier and finally reaching the day of our visit, our trip began. Traveling well over an hour from our hotel in Arezzo, 20 minutes into our trip up a narrow winding mountain road, a car ventured over the center line, clipped off our driver’s side mirror and never stopped. We proceeded to the nearest major town and hotel to report the accident to the car rental agency and credit card company. Time involved = 1 ½ hours. We realized we were now going to be late, so we asked the hotel manager who kindly provided us with a phone, to call Fontodi and explain (in Italian) our situation and that we were going to be late. The winery’s response was no problem and to please come. An hour and a half later, we finally showed up…our GPS couldn’t locate the address that we were given by the winery and website. After stopping in Panzano and conversing with some of the locals, we finally reached the winery. The sign at the bottom of Fontodi’s winery is as big as an American license plate. Not very impressive for a facility that produces 300,000 bottles a year.
So, up the long and bumpy dirt road we ventured. After parking we located the tasting room and popped our heads in and apologized for being late. A woman who was pouring samples of wine for three 3 people seated at a country table looked up and chastised us for not calling (which we clearly DID) and said she would be with us in 10 minutes. We walked around and took some beautiful country side pictures and 15 minutes later she came out for us.
We again apologized for our lateness and briefly explained the accident…and without even a word of concern or empathy, she proceeded to give us a hurried tour of the facility and a stand up wine tasting of 3 wines. This lasted all of 30 minutes. Nothing like appreciating customers who buy your products back in U.S. At the end of our tasting at which we purchased several wines, I asked her if she would be able to get me a large wine bottle label of Flaccionello so I could display it in my wine room. Flaccionello is a great super Tuscan and probably their most famous wine. Puzzled by my request, she wasn’t sure if it was possible, so I then asked her to find out. Five minutes later, she came back with the smallest of labels and said this was all she could get. Holding the label in my hand and thinking about the whole effort of getting here and being made to feel like our visit was a big inconvenience to her, I tossed the label on the table and told her to keep it. The expression on her face was one of shock. Ironically, when I made the same request to a gentleman working there, he was able to provide a middle size label which was fine. If a winery isn’t interested in making you feel welcome and wanted, they shouldn’t have tours. So my advice is next time you’re driving in Panzano and see the Fontodi sign…keep driving.
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