Esposito’s Italian Wine Merchants on 16th St. in Manhattan. Image via Google Places.
According to a press release issued last week by PRWeb, Italian wine merchant Sergio Esposito has purchased the Biondi-Santi library for $5 million.
The “7,000-bottle” archive stretches back to 1945.
A wine industry observer, who spoke to Esposito about the acquisition, told me that the winery’s owner Jacopo Biondi-Santi was facing financial pressures in the wake of business investments gone awry.
Jacopo is the son of Brunello patriarch and patrician Franco Biondi-Santi, who died less than two months ago at age 91.
The sale of the wine is significant because it is “the largest vertical collection sale in history of ‘blue chip’ Italian wines.” It also represents Esposito’s latest move in his quest to amass a behemoth-sized collection of investment-worthy Italian wines.
Esposito is the director of the Bottle Asset Funds, “a $50 million investment fund” founded in 2008 that invests in “‘blue chip’ wines in inefficient markets.”
Above: Brunello patriarch and patrician Franco Biondi-Santi died in early April 2013.
I worked as the media director at Esposito’s Italian Wine Merchants in Manhattan when it was still co-owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali and celebrity restaurateur Joe Bastianich, who pulled no punches in his brutal account of their business dealings.
In my view of the Italian wine world, the acquisition marks yet another milestone in the big-businessization of Italian wine.
Is that a good thing?
In the New Testament “Parable of the Talents,” the master praises his servants for investing well. No one can fault Esposito and his group of investment bankers for wanting to augment their business and increase their earnings.
But the moment a bottle of wine — the fruit of the vine — becomes a “blue chip,” it ceases to be an expression of a place and of the persons who tended that vine. It’s no longer the child of tradition and culture but a mere object to be traded among the world’s elite.
It’s the ultimate reification of agriculture. And the moment that we forget where that bottle comes from, we lose sight of the humanity that produced it. In that estrangement, we lose sight of ourselves.
Image via The Escapist.