Interview with Andrea Rossi maître and sommelier of the Locanda del Feudo in Castelvetro
The interview with Andrea Rossi (39 years old) maître and sommelier of the Locanda del Feudo, restaurant in Castelvetro in the province of Modena highlights some aspects that until now have been partially neglected in other interviews published in this section.
Andrea is a young sommelier who has an innovative vision of his role and his profession.
For him, the sommelier can no longer be just the wine expert who advises, sells and opens bottles at the table. In his opinion, the sommelier is the all-round manager of the cellar and of the budget, often very important, that the restaurant business allocates to this aspect
So the modern sommelier has to deal with the whole cycle: from the choice of labels, purchase, organization of storage / cellar, the control of sales, marketing operations up to the optimization of purchasing and flow of the bottles reloading . But why one person can keep track of all these stages need a tool that can 'automate' all the repetitive aspects such as sales data, the replacement rate of the different labels, order management, bubbles, loads and of discharges, the attribution of prices (for sale by bottle, glass, etc.). Not to mention obviously the management of both paper and digital wine lists.
“As soon as I realized what could be done with ENOWEB - says Andrea in his interview - I decided that I would use this program that I consider revolutionary.
The strength of ENOWEB is that it is a tool not only sales but also management and thus saw from my perspective, which is that of a hotel manager besides restaurateur, is the best choice I can make because it helps me to value the assets I have at home and to understand what is going on, what is still, how much I have immobilized ... in short, it solves the problem of managing the cellar in a functional way.
As I see it, ENOWEB is not just a program that serves the sommelier as an operator of the service in the dining room, but it is a service that helps the sommelier himself grow professionally by transforming him into a figure able to take care of the cellar in the round.”
La Locanda del Feudo
Andrea and Roberto Rossi. Two young people, two brothers animated by a common passion for good food, good wine and hospitality. Together they manage the Locanda del Feudo, a small, delightful resort with an adjoining restaurant that occupies one of the most historic buildings in the urban center of Castelvetro, a stone's throw from Modena.
It would seem a common story. How many cases are there in Italy of family-run restaurants and hotels that are passed on from one generation to the next? But this isn’t our case because Andrea and Roberto have not breathed the air of the kitchens and the hectic life of a family restaurant since they were children, their parents do something else.
However, they breathed culture, passion for food and the air of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Unique because it is strongly imbued with contrasting flavors and aromas between the abundance of cities and the "fat" and rich plain that slopes down towards the Po and that of the "poor" Apennines and its subsistence cuisine, distant worlds that have always coexisted in a few kilometers away and give rise to the uniqueness of these lands.
It is therefore this passion that convinces the two boys in their early twenties (it was January 1, 2005), after Roberto's hospitality diploma and a bit of experience in different restaurants in the area by both of them, to take over the premises. where the Locanda stands today.
The structure - very intimate - is located in a context of great charm in the historic center of Castelvetro. Under the medieval walls of the Locanda there are in fact the traces left by an ancient Etruscan necropolis and the Roman Castrum. They are structures that tell us about a special place where the Cardo and the Decumano of the Roman centuriation meet, where men have always passed, met, exchanged products, stopped to rest during long journeys.
Over time, the two brothers - who immediately shared roles with Roberto in the kitchen and Andrea in the dining room, at the reception and in the cellar - also received important awards such as entry into the Michelin Guide as "quality cuisine" and residence of "good comfort", the association with the exclusive group of Charming Italian Chefs (Chic), entry into the Charme & Relax guide not to forget the excellent evaluation of the Espresso guide. Fifteen years later, the Locanda del Feudo is a small oasis of peace and good food frequented by travelers and gourmets from all over the world but also by many Italians, among whom there is a particularly loyal local clientele.
“Our rooms - Andrea tells us - are half occupied during the entire opening period by foreign guests, while for the restaurant it is different. We have a hard core of very loyal local customers but during the tourist season, which for us runs from May to October, the presence of foreigners is important. It is also an interesting mix to observe because when foreigners see locals sitting at the tables they feel reassured, while it is fun to see the amazement of local customers who are curiously wondering how it is possible that people coming from places like New York, Singapore, Paris come and eat right here.
In reality it is a reputation that we have built over time thanks to a lot of attention in welcoming guests, to a cuisine (that of my brother Roberto) that is certainly gourmet but that never betrays the spirit of the gastronomic tradition of our Reggian and Modenese roots and also - I can say it with some pride - thanks to my cellar with an important and unconventional wine proposal. Important because it is not easy to find restaurants with less than 20 seats and a wine list that exceeds 300 labels. And unconventional because this card really tells my very personal journey of knowledge of the world of wine. "
The interview with Andrea Rossi
First of all, we ask Andrea to tell us how his approach to the world of wine was and how and where he trained as a sommelier?
"At first, I only had a little experience from several restaurants in the area. I then began my studies, which ended with the acquisition of the third level in 2010 and the qualification of professional sommelier in 2016.
Last year I attended the ALMA specialization master where I had the great satisfaction of graduating as the best of the course. It was a very demanding experience with a 360 ° training on everything related to the world of wine therefore enography, marketing, elements of winery management ... in short, here I found exactly the answers I was looking for to complete my study path because the courses for sommeliers give you the tools to be able to evaluate and judge a wine but they don't teach you how to manage a cellar ".
When was your first approach to our ENOWEB program?
"It was precisely on the occasion of the Master in Alma, during the lessons of Ciro Fontanesi dedicated to the management aspects of the cellar and the construction of the wine list that I had the opportunity to contact ENOWEB for the first time".
Speaking of the cellar and the wine list, would you like to introduce us to your restaurant?
“It is a wine list that today I can define unique of its kind and of which I am particularly proud. It is the result of many years of work and selection. My first passion was dedicated to natural wine. I was one of the first to pay attention to this world. Already in 2006 I began to appreciate, know and attend tastings. I still love this type of wine today and have followed it since then in all its evolutions.
In particular, I rely on the live tastings of Triple A (Farmers, Artisans, Artists) which is a bit of the reference association, the one that first began to push a lot on the discourse of natural wines and artisan wine production.
For some years this passion was reflected in an important and almost exclusive way also on the wine list that I proposed at the Locanda del Feudo, a wine list that contemplated almost exclusively natural wines.
Now that natural wines have become so fashionable, I have revised this choice a bit. Of course, natural wines are still very well present in my list where there is no shortage of real "goodies", bottles that I bought years ago and which are now very much disputed .. to give an example I still have some Radikon from 2007 and many others rarity. I have not abandoned the natural ones but more simply I wanted to rebalance the win e list without however converting to conventional wine. I simply wanted to include wines from winemakers where there is a lot of attention to naturalness intended as a winemaking process, respect for the vineyard and the environment, but at the same time also greater attention to the taste profile and therefore to the organoleptic notes. To give an example, a Trebbiano di Valentini in my opinion perfectly embodies this definition: a wine that is 100% natural but is also appreciated by the greatest gourmets in the world.
Currently in my cellar there are about 300 labels mainly Italian and French, but also German and other origins. I set it up following a main criterion, namely that of looking for native products, originating from a territory vinified in that specific context. So, to give some examples, I propose Pinot Noirs from Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Bordeaux area as well as of course many native Italians. To this I wanted to add something more international, also Italian, such as the reds of Macchiole di Bolgheri, classics that cannot be missing from a complete wine list ".
Was the decision to specialize the paper on native Italian products also the result of your passion?
“Partly yes and partly no. An important role was also played by our customers and in particular by the American ones. In fact, the tourist passionate about food and wine who comes to Italy comes there to be able to drink and learn about Italian wines and is not interested in bottles that he can easily find at his home. The same also applies to French customers who like to order Italian wines that are also very expensive and who are often pleasantly surprised by the quality of the product we offer. The thing I love most about my job is this, when the customer is satisfied and he compliments me because I introduced him to a wine he didn't know. And this happens very often with us. "
Returning to ENOWEB how long have you been using the program?
"In reality, I have only been using it since January of this year. A short period but still sufficient to understand that it is a product that has an important impact, especially at the management level. But then the amount of time you save in updating the wine lists rather than making inventory is also relevant.
From the point of view of the service it is very useful because with a single instrument you have all the cards together. Before, I had the wine list by the glass, that of bottled wines, the spirits list… they were three different cards that I had to keep updated, to layout and print with great expenditure of time and also of costs. Now I have everything in a single tool that I bring to the table with the tablet. "
In addition to these aspects, what are the ENOWEB functionalities that you find most interesting?
“Let's say that as soon as I realized what could be done with ENOWEB I decided that I would use this program that I consider revolutionary.
Initially I had some concerns about the costs but then when I learned the price I did not hesitate for a moment to buy it.
As I see it, ENOWEB is not just a program that serves the sommelier as an operator of the room service but it is a service that helps the sommelier to grow professionally by transforming him into a figure able to take care of the cellar in the round.
Normally the sommelier is labeled as the one who takes care of the offer and instead delegates the management of the cellar to those who deal with the bursar. Instead, thanks to ENOWEB, a single person is able to take care not only of sales in the room but also of purchasing and warehouse management.
ENOWEB helps you to understand which wines are about to reach the end of their life, allows you to select those labels that then over time acquire greater value and to correct errors in the planning of purchases.
In other words, ENOWEB gives you the opportunity to improve your professionalism. You are no longer the classic sommelier who simply sells wine in the dining room but the person who takes care of the management of the cellar at 360 °.
The sommelier of the future can only be like this. We must accept this challenge to make the most of our professionalism and ENOWEB is a powerful tool that can support us in this role change.
Today the sommelier is the figure who sells wine in the dining room and brings it to the table but is also considered a bit of a jolly resource in many restaurants. Apart from the fact that a professional can also feel diminished in his own function because he has studied, has prepared himself, has devoted time and effort to learn a trade ... we often feel like a bit of second-class collaborators, used if necessary a plug holes where they are created. Except then remembering us at the time of the bill when you realize that perhaps out of 10 thousand euros in the bill the customer has spent more than 70% on wine. Then the smiling director arrives and gives you a pat on the back and says 'good, good!'.
As for the selection of labels, how do you proceed? Do you get information on the net? Do you prefer to travel and personally discover the products that you then propose?
“What I do is first of all go to tastings and official fairs where I have the opportunity to meet many producers all together with whom we can safely talk. Then I have relationships with distributors who work very well and organize targeted themed tastings such as those dedicated to individual production regions, these are also important training opportunities. And then when I have some free time and I'm on vacation, I like to go to the production areas and search for myself.
At this specific moment I want to devote some time to studying and perfecting my theoretical knowledge, but as soon as I can, I already plan a nice refresher trip to Alsace, Loire and Champagne. "
Then I have good news for you. Recently ENOWEB landed on the French market and is enjoying particular success among restaurateurs from regions such as Alsace ...
"Fantastic then this means that when I do my updating journey I will find thousands of French labels registered in the database in addition to those that already exist ... on the other hand I have always thought that a service like ENOWEB has no competitors even in a market evolved like that of the other side of the Alps. And then it also gives me a little pleasure if we as Italians manage to sell a cellar management software to the French who are masters in this sector. "
Summarizing the things we have said so far, how would you summarize the most positive aspects of ENOWEB?
"The strength of ENOWEB is that it is a tool not only sales but also management and thus saw from my perspective is that of a hotel manager besides restaurateur is the best choice you can do because it helps me to value the assets that I have at home and to understand what is going on, what is still, how much I have immobilized ... in short, it solves the problem of managing the cellar in a functional way.
There are problems that may seem trivial but are not at all. For example, if you cannot go down to the cellar and you have to send a collaborator to get the bottle you have just ordered, you must have the guarantee that even those who go to the cellar for the first time must know where to go to get their hands.
You have no idea what a nightmare a check of the day before sales could be (of those that are usually done to replenish the supply of bottles to be kept at hand in the room) made with manual feedback and with the indications of the bottles to be go fishing in the cellar handwritten in an incomprehensible way. You have to go crazy and sometimes you risk losing even hours for an operation that using ENOWEB correctly takes a few minutes ... yet these are scenes that are repeated in many restaurants, even very important ones and I don’t know how it’s possible because - at least for what it concerns me and my small company - every minute of wasted work represents an important damage that is reflected first of all on the quality of the service in the room and then cascading on everything else. "
In short, to close, can we say that ENOWEB is the ideal tool, the secret weapon of the new sommelier 2.0?
"Yes, of course we can really say ..."
April 10, 2020
Piergiovanni Mometto [www.mometto.net]