Shame on the Fortezza!

Posted by on October 8, 2012 in The Wine-Diva Blog | 0 comments

Recently I was driving around a visiting friend who was dying to try some amazing Brunello from the area and wanted to go visit Montalcino.  He had already had a small tasting which included a couple Brunellos at our local Cortona wine shop Molesini but wanted to see the area where Brunello is grown.  Since we live only about an hour away it was an easy day trip on the last day of his visit with us.  Being short on time and since it was during lunch time by the time we arrived (which means most tasting rooms are closed), I decided to take him to the Enoteca la Fortezza in Montalcino where he’d have a chance to taste numerous high-end Brunellos at the same time.

The tastings aren’t cheap, around 25 Euro for 3 quality tastings and the pours are about an ounce size. They label each glass so you remember what you are tasting and try to get you to try youngest to oldest.

I had been to the Fortezza a few times before and although the tasting can get expensive, it was a great way to try so many prestigious Brunellos.  Apparently now that comes with a price.

We were barely into the tasting when they informed us that they had a special, if you buy a case of bottles you get free shipping to the U.S., and the tasting for free.  They quickly picked up that my friend was the one that would possibly be interested in buying wines and things started moving quickly from there. Soon we were being served glasses left and right, based on my friend’s palate and opinion and soon his reaction to price points.  Our original salesperson tried to hand us off to another but quickly decided to stay when she overheard me telling my friend he should maybe wait and just buy from our local wine shop in Cortona. They wouldn’t leave us alone AND kept pouring more and more different tastings, always above the price point my friend said he was comfortable with, trying to get him to commit to buying a case of higher priced wine.

It was like being tag-teamed by two used car salesmen.

Finally, my friend buckled.  I felt torn, on one hand I felt very strongly that there was a catch to all of this and that free shipping simply meant that the bottle were priced higher to compensate.  If it sounds like it is too good of a deal it usually is.  On the other hand I had no idea if this wine was available from our local wine shop and didn’t want to ruin it for him since he was leaving the next day.   I just told him, again, I didn’t think in the end it was all that great of a deal but I had no cell service to try to back up my claim.  He bought two cases.

I put my foot down when they tasted us on and then tried to sell us Sassicaia 2009 for 240 Euro a bottle.  Since he was already buying some cases from our local wine shop, and I know they always have a stash of Sassicaia, I insisted he buy that locally, at least I could guarantee he would pay the proper price.

As we drove away and he tried to figure out what he really paid, considering the actual price but how we saved the cost of shipping AND tastings (which tastings alone would have added up to 75 Euro), we finally agreed after going over and over again to just call it “Fuzzy Financials”.  We really had no clue but both of us had a bad taste in our mouth.

As soon as we got home we told our adventure to the husband who also is the king of Google and quickly discovered that not only was shipping definitely included in the price of the wine but then some, our friend had overpaid 14 Euro a bottle for the two cases of wine he had purchased at the Fortezza. Yikes!

Later, when we went up to Cortona for the special weekly tasting at the Molesini wine shop, my friend finalized his order with Marco and also ordered two bottles of Sassicaia 2009 which Molesini sells for 120 Euro a bottle, a far cry from the 240 Euro Enoteca la Fortezza was charging for it.

Lessons learned:

  1. Enoteca la Fortezza is charging WAY too much for their wine.  Great place to try Brunellos but even Trip Advisor reflects comments of people who figured out they paid too much.
  2. Support your local wine shop who is tried and true and I don’t get anything but a sense of pride for mentioning this! My local shop has great prices on wine, ships to the U.S. as well as other countries at competitive rates (I know this first hand from comparing shipping prices of local wineries) can also recommend wines based on what you describe and is an expert on the best years, great finds, etc.  Go Molesini!
  3. If it sounds to good to be true IT IS!