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Thomas making the best Bellini Ccktails on the Grand Canal

The Story of GreatVine

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Welcome to Great Vine wine import agency!  Thomas M. Soliman is the founder of GreatVine, having moved to live in Northern Ireland after 20 years working in the hospitality industry in Venice, Italy.  In 5 star hotels on the Grand Canal, he was famous for making the best Bellini cocktails and was featured in Italy’s leading Hospitality publication ‘HD Magazine’ for his Bellini and Rossini cocktails.

Thomas lived in the heart of the finest Prosecco producers in the Piave wine route in the Province of Treviso, where he gained an intimate knowledge of the high quality Prosecco and Italian wines being produced in the region from Campodipietra to Conegliano Valdobbiadene.

On arriving to live in Northern Ireland, it soon became clear that the wonderful high quality Prosecco they were used to enjoying in Italy, simply was not available in the Irish market, so really GreatVine was born out of a frustration of not being able to buy the beautiful high quality Prosecco which they loved to drink while eating out in Italy .

The appetite for Prosecco in the Irish market was obvious, but supply appeared to be entirely price led meaning that the quality available was limited. Thomas felt that consumers in the market needed to be given the choice and the opportunity to try all of the high quality Prosecco DOC and DOCG, Dry, Extra Dry & Brut variations, Rosé Prosecco and Dolce Prosecco (Dessert Prosecco)  that could be made available to them. The first step was showing restaurant owners that they needed to be offering a better range of quality Prosecco and if only they would do that, there are so many consumers who will come just because they offer it. Also customers who experience and enjoy quality Prosecco at a restaurant will not be happy to put up with inferior Prosecco elsewhere afterwards. It will bring them back to our customers again and again.

Just as with Champagne, there are low, medium and high quality Prosecco. In terms of quality certification of Italian wines and Prosecco, IGT is the lowest level of Certification, followed by DOC and then the highest Certification level being DOCG.  GreatVine was formed to re-educate the market in Ireland and the first step in doing that, is to import the finest selection of Prosecco and the various varieties of it from the best of the high quality and Artisan producers that we know intimately and work with in the Veneto Region of Italy.

These producers also have some superb Italian wines, including the signature red wine of the area called Raboso.  Thomas was also surprised to find that Raboso was not available on wine menus in Ireland, whereas it is a huge seller in the American market. Raboso generally tends to be slightly frizzante (fizzy) and is often served slightly chilled in Italy, which may seem strange to red wine drinkers but once you’ve tasted it, you know it makes total sense. Refosco, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Pinot Nero are all wonderful reds from the region as well as many Premium wines that are blends of more than one grape variety.

We have found some wonderful Sauvignon Blanc examples in the area too, which are very similar in style to New Zealand Sauvignon, in fact in one particular example the Sauvignon from a leading supplier has been likened to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon, so that’s quite an achievement. With the excise duty being much less for EU sourced wines than New world wines, this is a wonderful opportunity for restaurants in Ireland if they offer it as an alternative of equal quality and style.

Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Verduzzo Traminer (similar in style to Gewürztraminer), Chardonnay and the wonderful dessert wines known as Passito, in the style of the more famous Vin Santo are the typical white wines of the area. Of course the most famous Italian dessert wines come from the Sicilian island ‘Isola di Pantelleria’ but anything from there is priced a lot more highly.

Thomas being such a leading connoisseur of the Bellini cocktail, was unable to find a anyone serving a decent one in Ireland. The first problem was the inferior quality of the Prosecco being used (with some operators even using Cava rather than Prosecco!) and the second was the quality of the white peach puree being used. The peach puree used in Venice, the home of Bellini cocktail was not available in the Irish market, so this was another ingredient needed to right the wrong being done to the famous Bellini cocktail outside of Italy.

So now GreatVine is introducing the correct white peach puree to Ireland in addition to high quality Prosecco, a wider range and type of Prosecco from Dry Extra Dry, Brut, Rosé and Dolce (sweet Prosecco) as well as a variety of really awesome artisan wines from Italy.  If you want to stock Prosecco in your restaurant or Hotel, then look no further. GreatVine is the Prosecco expert in the Irish market.

If you want a competitive edge by having some unusual, unique and fantastic Italian wines on your menu, then GreatVine can give your business that advantage. We are hands on with leading wineries and artisan vineyards in Italy. We don’t just meet the few who go along to the wine fairs. We visit the cantinas, we taste the wines and talk to the owners in Italian. In this way GreatVine can offer gems that you would never find from a major wholesaler or larger and less eclectic wine distributor.

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