Passione Vino co–founder Luca Dusi talks cloudy prosecco, fly fishing and the time he got drunk on tiramisu
I came to England from Verona in 1995. I was meant to travel the world, but I found myself at home in London.
We were the first ones in England to import cloudy prosecco. In 2005, I sold about 300 bottles. This year, I will sell 26,000 bottles. It has become our most iconic wine. Cheap prosecco is shit, but there are some cheap champagnes that are even worse.
Italy is both famous and infamous for indigenous grape varieties. It can be like negotiating a labyrinth. Among my favourites are Pignolo and Schioppettino from Friuli, Verdicchio from Marche and Frappato from Sicily.
Luca Dusi CV
1995 Moves to London from Verona
1995-1998 Works in various hospitality jobs
as a kitchen porter, pizza chef and Soho
1998-2003 Works as an agent for an Italian wine
2003 Joins the Italian Oenological Institute.
Started Passione Vino as a distribution
company with business partner
2003-2006 Travels between the UK, EU,
the US and Japan for the Italian
2007 Leaves the Italian Oenological Institute to
concentrate on Passione Vino
2013 Opens Passione Vino shop and wine bar
in Shoreditch, London
2015- present Collaborates with acclaimed
chefs, including Angela Hartnett,
Francesco Mazzei, Russell Norman and Terry Laybourne
I definitely want to open a second Passione Vino, still in London but out west. East London is like a boiling pot of beans – everything is popping. West is more staid and stuffy, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t ready for Passione Vino.
The most surprising wine I’ve tried was a magnum of Penfolds Grange 1995. It was just perfection. I have tried to match that experience since, but never have.
By far the best region of Italy for me is Valtellina. It’s a tiny valley in the Alps on the border with Switzerland. It’s beautiful and there are 51 different producers all with steep vineyards and super narrow terraces – they are all fit and healthy.
I associate shapes with different wine flavours. For example, if I drink a very oaky Merlot from Napa that’s round, velvety and 15% abv, I think of a football. Orange wine is something like a rugby ball with spikes.
One of my passions is fly fishing. My best catch was up in the Alps, just off the stream that feeds the Neves Lake close to Brunico. It was a brown trout and I caught it on a size 14 dry fly, which is very difficult.
I enjoy boxing. It keeps my mind fresh and burns some calories. It’s much more exciting to throw 3,000 punches in 20 minutes than sit on a bike in the gym.
I’m reading The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. I actually talk to plants now. The book inspired one of our producers, Giancarlo Cignozzi, who is a great friend and founder of Il Paradiso di Frassina in Montalcino, Tuscany, to explore the beneficial effects of music on vines.
Autumn is my favourite season, with the romance of everything getting ready for winter: the leaves turning red and yellow, the gathering of food, and people coming together. Also, my birthday is in autumn.
I love to grill, flame and smoke meats, especially bavette and ribs. I’m a beef guy. I’m constantly inspired by Simon Stallard, founder of The Hidden Hut in Cornwall. He uses different woods for different flavours and creates incredible dishes. I’m not at that level yet.
Angela Hartnett is my favourite Michelin-starred chef by far. She’s hard-working and down to earth. Whenever I work with her, I always learn something new, both professionally and as a person.
My first memory of wine is getting a bit tipsy on my mum’s tiramisu, rich with Marsala, when I was six years old.