Drinking Victoria: Anthony D'Anna

Published on 15 December 2020

Photo: Anthony D'Anna, Bocaccio Cellars

Your guide to what's in the glass from the best in the trade.

More than a few Australian food and wine lovers are familiar with the name Boccaccio Cellars, a Melbourne institution that has traded in quality Italian food and wine since 1963. Anthony D’Anna, a second-generation Italo-Australian, has been heavily involved in the family business for many years, not only with Boccaccio but also with the family’s award-winning Yarra Valley winery, Hoddles Creek Estate, and more recently with Mondo Imports, which connects Australian drinkers with some outstanding small producers in Italy.

The last three delicious things I drank were:
-       Mount Mary Chardonnay 2018. I love family business and Sam Middleton is the third generation to be involved at Mount Mary. We all love Burgundy and Chablis but just down the road from Lilydale, we have a Victorian producer that can match it with the best chardonnay in the world.
-       Cos Rami 2018. A beautiful wine made from grecanico and insolia from Sicily and aged in amphora. I had it matched with some Pecorino and stale bread.
-       Fatalone Gioia del Colle Primitivo 2019. Want to see the real Italy? Go to Puglia. The honesty (but also beauty) of its landscape and people will shake your perception of Italy. This is what Italy was like before mass tourism. The wines from Puglia also have that sense of honesty, and this wine is a beauty. Gioia del Colle is 45 minutes from the Mediterranean and the Adriatic which means it gets sea breezes in the morning and afternoon, and because of this, the whites and reds have a freshness that I love.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria is at the bar at Supernormal.It’s everything that is so great about Melbourne food and wine. Unique food, amazing staff and a killer wine list put together by absolute legend Leanne Altmann. When I want to show one of my staff or a European winemaker just how passionate Melbourne is about food and wine, the bar at Supernormal is where I want to be.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, Ipass it onto the person next to me. Life is all about surprises. 

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is gin crafted by the team at Four Pillars.Next time you have a free weekend, take a drive to Healesville. Stop by the Healesville Hotel and have lunch in their beer garden and then drop into Four Pillars. What they’ve created at their distillery and the gin they make is truly world class. 

There’s no better value on wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Prince Wine Store.Is there anything better when your good mates Michael McNamara and Alex Wilcox not only run one of the best wine stores in the world but also have a restaurant like Bellota where you can tap into their wine selections and eat amazing food crafted by Nicky Riemer? 

I might be a little biased (our family own Hoddles Creek Estate in the Yarra Valley and my twin brother is the winemaker) but everything we do at Hoddles is to try and create the highest quality wine at the lowest price. My twin brother and I planted the first 12 acres back in 1997 on our university holidays and I quickly realized manual labour wasn’t for me. Fast-forward 20 years and my brother is still there. 

My favourite place to buy booze is…I don’t buy a lot of booze at retailers, but when I’m not near Boccaccio and on the way out, then I always try and find the closest Blackhearts and Sparrows store near me. They sell wines people love to drink and you know when you buy something there, you a supporting a fantastic Victorian business. 

I’d love to see us planting/brewing/distilling more gin in Victoria. We have amazing water and botanicals and citrus. The process fascinates me so much that with our good mates Sam Middleton and Jordan Lewis we’re going to produce gin early next year from botanicals and citrus from the Yarra Valley grown on our property at Hoddles Creek Estate.

My guilty pleasure in the fridge/drinks cabinet/at the bar is a big glass of Amaro Montenegro after dinner most nights. We import many different amari from all over Italy but Montenegro is probably my favourite. Want to know why most Italians sleep so well? They drink amaro (typically something artisanally produced from their specific region), which is the best digestive after a meal. Throw in an after dinner passeggiata and you can understand why we all love Italy so much.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been the disappearance of wine snobbery over the last five or 10 years. There was a time when drinking wine was wrapped up in old-school elitism. But that time has passed, and now today wine is about drinkability and enjoyment. Exactly how it should be.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is Jane Faulkner. She has been writing about Victorian food and wine for many, many years and has not been afraid to call out the bullshit but also the brilliance in our industry. She has really inspired me and lots of other people in the wine industry over 20-plus years.

Bocaccio Cellars, 1030/1050 Burke Rd, Balwyn, boccaccio.com.au

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