Interview With A Sommelier – Gianni Tartari

8th January 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Gianni Tartari

The World of Wine is beautifully showcased by an army of talented Sommeliers, who help the consumer discover their next favourite bottle, understand the different regions and pair a delicious meal with the right Glass of Bubbly.

In this feature, I speak with a man who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Gianni Tartari, let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I am Gianni Tartari, son of Italians, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am 54 years old, divorced, and the father of the beautiful Anna Clara and the handsome Luca. I am a lover of music, arts, and motorsports, such as Formula 1. I have been living in São Paulo since 1995.

Between 1988 and 1999, I worked as a sommelier in various restaurants between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Starting in the year 2000, I began my journey in wine import companies, with Expand being the first importer I worked for. I traveled the world through wine, visiting wine-producing regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, Rhône, Corbières, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany, Sicily, Navarra, Penedés, Monsant, Priorat, Douro, Dão, Alentejo, and many others in Europe, not to mention South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. I attended major wine fairs like Vinexpo, Vinitaly, London Wine Trade Fair, Prowein, and others.

As a professional sommelier, I participated in and won two Brazilian Sommelier competitions (1991 and 1994) and represented my country three times in World Contest of Sommelier competitions; in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1995 in Tokyo, Japan and in 1998 in Vienna, Austria.

I hold Certified Sommelier from the Court of Masters Sommeliers and I am a Diploma Candidate with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.

Nowadays I provide consultancy services for important market players such as Concha y Toro, PNR Group Rothschild, and Vignarosa. Additionally, I am the sommelier responsible for wine selection at Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras.”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“I remember very well, even though it wasn’t a moment when I was tasting sparkling wine, but rather during a service at the restaurant where I began working, Enotria, where my father was the chef. It was a small restaurant, only 9 tables, with regular customers; a family that came in often, and I was enchanted by the daughter who was the same age as me. I would serve Champagne to everyone at the table correctly, but when it came to her glass, I would get nervous and always spill some. I was so embarrassed, especially because she commented to her father, asking why I always spilled her glass.

It was an unforgettable Champagne Dom Pérignon.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“I don’t see it as an inspiration because there wasn’t a specific moment when I chose to become a sommelier. I think it happened naturally, as I was taking care of a small shop that was divided into little cabinets where customers stored their wines. Back in the 1980s, not everyone had a wine cellar at home with climate control. I received wines from customers, cataloged all the bottles, arranged them in the cabinets, and sent out a printed wine list through the mail since email wasn’t a thing yet.

After observing customers repeatedly request their older wines, even though they had the same wines from newer vintages and bottles, I developed a curiosity to understand why they always wanted to drink the older wines. Most of these were Bordeaux wines. This curiosity led me to study at the Associação Brasileira de Sommeliers, still in Rio de Janeiro, so I could comprehend this preference. That’s when I had the tremendous discovery of the world of wines… and it’s been 34 years since then.”

During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?

“I learned countless surprising and fascinating things about wines during my studies. I loved discovering the traditional method of crafting Champagne, for instance; I was amazed by the outcomes of reusing the ancient winemaking approach, quite common today, to produce ‘orange’ wines, and how the renowned producer Josko Gravner from Friuli, Italy, revolutionized his entire production after a trip to Georgia, where he witnessed wine being made in amphorae.

Every day brings us new discoveries and curiosities about wines from every corner of the world… which makes this wine universe endlessly captivating.”

What Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?

“Two countries hold a very special place in my heart: Brazil, my homeland, and Italy, the land of my origins.

Brazil is a country of continental dimensions. In the 1980s, when it came to wines, we only thought about the southern region of the country, an area that received numerous German and Italian immigrants who introduced their wine culture to these lands. Nowadays, production goes far beyond the south, reaching the city of Petrolina at the 8°N parallel.

Still in the south, two areas stand out for sparkling wine production: Bento Gonçalves, with its Vale dos Vinhedos Designation of Origin (D.O.) and its traditional method sparkling wines, crafted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as a base; and Pinto Bandeira, with the recently established Altos de Pinto Bandeira D.O., exclusively for sparkling wines and the only one in the southern hemisphere! This D.O. produces sparkling wines with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling.

On the other hand, Italy produces various styles of sparkling wines across multiple regions: perhaps the most famous being Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene DOCG, made with the Glera grape in Veneto; Franciacorta DOCG, which can be a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay or even a Blanc de Blancs, produced in Lombardy; and TrentoDoc DOC, always using Chardonnay grapes, crafted in the mountains of Trentino. Not to mention the numerous traditional method sparkling wines produced throughout the country.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“The best memory I have of tasting a sparkling wine is from when I was in Trentino, visiting the Ferrari winery, a producer of TrentoDoc. There were several tastings during this visit, but one in particular stands out: sitting in the sun, on a beautiful lawn, facing the colossal Dolomites, and just contemplating life. It was a magical moment.”

Thank you, Gianni, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Gianni Tartari. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.