Former Juventus and Italy defender Andrea Barzagli spoke with La Gazzetta dello Sport about his ownership of a small winery in the province of Messina. Barzagli started the winery before retiring from the game, and has poured of his time into it in the years since leaving the Bianconeri, as he explained to La Gazzetta:
“As a footballer, I was a wine that knows how to age! ….and it was during my years in Germany that I started to get passionate about wine. From an occasional glass at dinner, over the years I came to build a small winery in the province of Messina and produce bottles. It started almost as a game, now it has become a serious thing. A job. In the beginning, the driving force behind the winery was my partner, I was too busy. But since I stopped playing, every month I go to Sicily for at least four or five days.”
Was it love at first sight?
‘A gradual falling in love. While I was playing in Germany, my friend and partner Gianfranco, whom I knew from my Palermo days, started to send me a few bottles asking me for opinions. Occasional tastings, within the limits of life as a player. Then one day he tempted me with a nice idea of his’.
Tell us about it…
“He came to Wolfsburg and said: ‘I’ve found a wonderful piece of land near Messina, from which you can see the Strait and the Aeolian islands. It would be nice to do something’. I, almost as a joke, took him at his word. We bought 12 hectares at Faro Superiore. A serious investment. That’s how the Le Casematte winery was born’.
What wines do you produce?
‘We focus on sweet, drinkable wines, around 13 degrees. Three reds, two whites and a rosé’.
Is there a Barzagli wine?
‘No, I always wanted our wines to be talked about for their taste. And not because they can be traced back to a footballer. We now have six labels.
The most important one?
‘The one that represents us most is the Faro. Then the Nanuci, a red. Then Peloro red and white, Pharis, Rosematte’.
Do you also involve yourwife in choosing the names of the wines?
‘We all help each other. Maddalena has a communications agency and looks after the winery’s website. In the future, maybe my two sons will want to take the winery forward. In the meantime, I have fun’.
Do you also harvest?
“From time to time. And it’s always a good time, we’re all together in the fields. There’s a world behind a bottle and in recent years I’ve become passionate about discovering it’.
‘I really enjoy watching the cutting of the vats and tasting the best wines. There is a world behind every aspect of the product: from the choice of cork to the label, nothing is random. The 4-5 days a month that I spend in Sicily are always pleasant’.
How much do you usually drink?
‘At dinner a glass of wine is not missing, at lunch nothing’.
After more than ten years, what is your greatest pride?
‘To feel that our wines are becoming more and more known and appreciated. We started from a small company, then we grew: we also export to England, Japan, the USA and Australia’.
Do football and wine have something in common?
‘They are different environments with one thing in common: you start from the bottom, or small, and to get to the top you have to work every day to improve yourself and the quality of the product’.
At Juve did he ever let CR7 taste one of his bottles?
‘Sure, to him and to all the other guys. The last years at Juventus I used to give 3-4 bottles to every teammate for Christmas’.
The most wine-loving player you have ever met?
‘Perin took part in the sommelier course and is a real expert. Marchisio is as passionate as I am and this is one of the many reasons why we have become great friends.”