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Leaving aside any parallels with football, Italy and Germany are simply the countries of both of the two new honorary Chianti Classico Ambassadors, internationally renowned and highly respected wine critics Doctorwine, Daniele Cernilli, and Doktor Jens Priewe.

The former is a Theoretical Philosophy graduate, the latter has a degree in Economics and Political Science: both far removed in training from the wine sector, but with life experience, a flash of inspiration, that has inextricably linked them to the fascinating world of wine criticism, particularly to that of Gallo Nero.

Let’s start with the home team, in Italy.

Incredibly, Daniele Cernilli’s curiosity about wine originated from another passion – geography: “As I love geography,” explains Doctorwine, “I soon discovered another very interesting type of geography, relating to the aromas and flavours of the wines that characterise and distinguish different regions and countries. In my twenties I started exploring this interest and when, as a student, I worked as a shop assistant in a well-known wine shop in Rome, I visited the wine festival at Greve in Chianti (the Expo of Chianti Classico that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary). This was way back in 1979 or perhaps 1980: and even back then some Chianti Classico wines won my heart and palate. Today I believe I am one of the greatest admirers of Sangiovese grown on the Chianti hills, and the work of the many Gallo Nero growers and winemakers”.

Having been involved with the Roman Sommelier Association for some time, in 1986 Daniele and Stefano Bonilli created Gambero Rosso and began to publish the Guida ai Vini d’Italia, whose first edition came out in 1987. Since then Daniele has continued to taste Gallo Nero wines every year, even after he decided to leave Gambero and devote his time to new publishing projects. “I think I must be the journalist who has tasted the most Chianti Classicos ever, to score and review them. At a guess I’d say about 15,000”.

Turning to Germany: after his university degree, in the 1970s Jens Priewe started working as a journalist, writing about economics and politics for leading German newspapers like Der Spiegel and Stern.

Then in 1977 Jens’s career took an unexpected turn, as you might say: he was sent to Tuscany, Italy, to Chianti Classico to write a lighter, social piece about wine, for readers tired of reading depressing news about politics and nothing else.

Jens protested: “But I don’t know anything about wine!” The answer was that was why he’d been given the job. What was needed was a fresh, colourful article by a wine novice. Jens didn’t speak Italian, and he arrived in the Gallo Nero hills unprepared. Data gathering isn’t easy and the result was a piece that failed to fulfil the expectations of the paper (or more likely, of Jens himself ….!).

This is when the flash hit. Inspired by his visit to Chianti Classico, Jens decided to write about wine. He actually planned to write a book on Italian wines!

He moved to Florence, started studying Italian (which he speaks fluently today), and spent all his holidays in Tuscany. During the 1980s he also contacted the Gallo Nero Consortium for research support. He also visited other Italian winegrowing areas.

Ten years later, in 1987, his first book, “Great Wines of Italy” was published in German for the German market.

You can learn about the rest of the lives of these two new honorary Chianti Classico Ambassadors in the biographies attached: the stories of two great characters in the wine world, forever linked to Gallo Nero, worthy ambassadors of the historic designation.

It should be emphasised that the awards conferred today at Stazione Leopolda are part of a broader project, called “Chianti Classico Ambassador”. Launched by the Consortium in Canada, in 2017, and repeated in the USA the following year, its goal is to create a network of Gallo Nero Ambassadors in the main markets. In this case, the non-honorary candidates have had to demonstrate their knowledge of the designation in an exam.

The next stage of the project is coming soon: election of the Chianti Classico ambassador for one of Gallo Nero’s traditional markets – Germany. As for Canada and the US, the competition will be open to wine educators from catering/oenological training schools, sommeliers, HoReCa wine managers, specialised communication agencies, and wine training centres.