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Published:  23 July, 2008

Two new companies that are boldly defying the difficult market situation and setting up shop in London held their inaugural tastings last week. Passione Vino joins the growing but still small and select band of specialist Italian shippers and will focus on the on-trade. Founding partners Luca Dusi and Federico Bruschetta, both from the Veneto, told Harpers: We are trying to offer the really distinctive taste of Italy, to promote producers who don't sell themselves down the river with Cabernet and Merlot, and regions that are undervalued in the UK, such as the Marche and Puglia.' The company is the exclusive UK agent for some of Italy's most sought-after cult wines, including Josko Gravner's Collio DOC Breg and Oasi Degl'Angeli's Marche IGT Kurni. But it also offers lesser-known regional specialities such as Elvio Cogno's Nas-Cetta (an almost-extinct Piedmontese variety) and Ca' D Russin's Respiro di Vigna Vendemmia Tardiva, a botrytised sweet Barbera. For more details: 020 8672 1941 or Wine of the Times Ltd has been founded by Nick Tarayan - consultant, hotelier, restaurateur, sommelier and former MD of Leith's Restaurants. As a wholesaler selling to both the off- and on-trades, but concentrating on the former, it will ship many of its wines direct. Many people have asked what the idea behind Wine of the Times is,' Tarayan said. Well, it's not an easy question to answer, except that passion and enjoyment feature very strongly. That enjoyment extends to a rather eclectic taste, not only in the wines themselves and the places they hail from but - most importantly - the people who make them.' He told Harpers: I disagree that a wine company needs focus. I focus on wine.' The company will be offering a broad range of some 350. Citing the success of Champagne and spirit brands that have targeted the gay market, Tarayan said that his company would also be pursuing the pink pound. For further information: 020 8838 9432 or