Ric Little is the general manager of sales and marketing for Vintners NZ, one of the most interesting importers of wine to New Zealand, as well as a distributor of top local brands, such as Kumeu River Wines and The Escarpment Vineyard. Top international brands that Vintners import include, among many others, Umani Ronchi, which produces the outstanding Casal di Serra Verdicchio; surely one of the world’s most under rated wines. It’s now made from certified organic grapes, is sealed with a screwcap and is a dry, full bodied white that stands the long term test of time. Verdicchio may not be a house hold name here in New Zealand but it is a great white grape and makes exceptional wines, such as this one which comes from the Montecarotto Vineyard in the Marché region of central Italy.
Here it is as my wine of the week, followed by this week’s Proust interview with Ric Little. The Proust questionnaire originated in 1886. Find out more here.
Wine of the week
2019 Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdiccio RRP $23.99
Natural yeast fermentation in stainless steel tanks preserves the fresh green herb, green apple and piercing citrus aromas of lemon zest that characterise this beautiful full bodied, dry white wine from central Italy. There are currently 2,220 hectares of Verdicchio growing in this area, most it around the town of Jesi on the slopes of the Appenine mountains, which rise to over 6,500 feet. Vines grow in a diverse range of soils here from clay and sand on the north side of the Esino Valley with limestone on the south side. This wine spends five months in contact with yeast lees, which adds flesh to the wine. There is no malolactic fermentation in this wine and it’s all the better for it. Tension comes from the fresh vibrant spine of acidity which adds depth and length to every sip.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being able to work in an industry I love, for a company and with people I respect, and sharing the dreams and ambitions of over 30 family owned wineries from across the globe.
What is your current state of mind?
I would say curious. I am curious to see what will happen in the world in the next year or so and the impact that will have on me and people around me. I see hope and opportunity as you always get a bounce coming out adversity. Our industry has had a pretty challenging time globally over the last two years. Some good news would be welcome.
What is your favourite part of winemaking?
Firstly, I would say – the drinking. Next would be provenance and storytelling. Few other things in life can give a snapshot of time, place, weather, terroir and the touch of talented humans, quite like a bottle of wine.
Do you have a most treasured wine?
I have been collecting wines from eight Bordeaux properties since the late 1990s and have several verticals from them. I have visited the region a number of times and each chateau holds different special memories.
Where is your favourite wine region?
See above. I’m also very fond of Margaret River, Chianti and Hawke’s Bay.
When and where are you at your happiest?
This is a hard one as I’m pretty happy most of the time. I reckon it’s a toss up between the hustle and bustle of traveling in one of the world’s great cites like New York or Tokyo or sitting in quiet contemplation on my deck overlooking the deserted shores of the Kaipara Harbour.
What do you most dislike in wine?
Snobbery and pretension. It irks me when so called industry professionals tell consumers what they should like rather than letting those people decide for themselves.
What is your greatest fear?
I don’t really fear anything or anyone.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Stopping occasionally to reflect on what a great life I have had.
What is your greatest regret?
Never learning to play a musical instrument. I would have been an awesome rock star.
What talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be more proficient in speaking foreign languages.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Loss of control.
What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?
I cannot answer that. No one should deplore anything about themselves. It is really unhealthy. If you do feel that way, please seek help.
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty, honesty and humour
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“At the end of the day…” and “Between you and me…”. I wish I could stop but I can’t.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Abraham Lincoln – not sure I would want to be assassinated, but what an extraordinary life up to that point.