Every time I taste a new Chianti I am reminded how much I love Sangiovese. It’s a heart-warming grape, full of everything wine-lovers crave in red wine. Tannin, acidity, fruit. You can age it. You can drink it on release. And Sangiovese is a wonderful platform to showcase terroir- dusty tannins become apparent. Red soil reads through in iron-laced minerality. The hot Tuscan sun warms the fruit from red to black. Castello di Verrazzano’s beautiful wines are no exception. I had the pleasure of meeting Luigi and Silvia Cappellini at Newport Beach’s Mozza for dinner recently, where we tasted their wines with the simplest and most delicious dinner of pizza and salumi. The wines were gorgeous and the company was absolutely brilliant. Continue reading
I am super proud to be part of the hospitality industry. Supplying Italian wine to restaurants and shops has become an amazingly satisfying career for me- I love our community! Recently we started a monthly “Industry Night” in Orange County, California, where we get together to network, to relax, to get to know each other, and to taste wine. What better way to start our BYO evenings than with our first theme… Nebbiolo! Continue reading
Sometimes you just need a glass of bubbles. Maybe more than sometimes. In the wake of the holidays (Thanksgiving!? Christmas?! New Year’s?!) I like to have an arsenal of happy-making-sparkling wines at the ready. Like this one. Continue reading
I had one of the most incredible food and wine experiences of my life recently, all thanks to Dan Pirelli at the Wine Hotel. Who else would have the ability (or the vision) to put together a vertical tasting AND paired-wine-dinner with 15 vintages of Sassicaia?
Nobody else. Never been done before. May never be done again. Continue reading
Wine Director Jared Hooper and Champagne Specialist Mike Hoagland
My passion in life is Italian wine, but a close second-place might be Champagne. Cold, cutting acidity and lively bubbles. Refreshing, yet serious at the same time. Aromatically superior to any other category of sparkling wine. Equally ready to lay down and develop for years in your cellar, or to be chilled immediately and enjoyed.
Photo by Oliver McCrum- Falanghina and Salty Fried Fish.
One of my favorite terroir-minded producers from the area around Naples is La Sibilla, a winery owned and operated by 5 generations of the Di Meo family. I love Southern Italian wines, especially from Campania. This is where you can go deep into Italy’s history, and uncover the really authentic, time-tested grape varietals. More importantly, you’ll also find winemakers here like La Sibilla who love and respect these local grapes, and with them continue to craft elegant and authentic wines. Volcanic ash dominates the soil, the sea surrounds the vineyards and the local viticultural practices all combine to highlight what makes these wines special: salt and acidity. Continue reading
I am Italian by ethnicity on my father’s side of the family. Grandma Lorraine is his mother, my Calabrese nonna. She’ll remind you she’s Calabrese too- anytime it’s convenient. Mostly when she’s being stubborn about something and she’s using her cultural heritage to remind you she won’t change her mind about something. “I’m Calabrese,” she says as she raps her fist on the table. “You know what they say about the Calabrese. Hard-headed.” Continue reading
Thanks to Michael Young of Palm Bay Imports, I had a chance to enjoy this bottle of Brunello the other night at Union restaurant in Pasadena. (if you haven’t tried this place yet, do yourself a favor and get over there. Seriously.)
Col d’ Orcia’s 1997 Brunello di Montalcino was the perfect wine to compliment Chef Bruce Kalman’s hearty, local-Italian cuisine. Especially his toothsome Spaghetti alla Chitarra… Continue reading
… but only of proper sowing. (T.S. Eliot)
Ripe Prünent grapes waiting for harvest at Cantina Garrone.
These powerful words by T.S. Eliot remind us that in these frantic, labor-intensive days of harvest, and through these sleepless nights and anxious moments waiting for the right weather, the right temperature, the exact moment of ripeness- the real work is already done.
Botti at Monteraponi, full and pregnant with years of hard work waiting inside.
I love this time of year when the world, both virtual, online and physical, is full of the harvest. It is a good time to remember that wine is really just farming. Agriculture at its most basic level.
Let’s not forget, the people who put wine in your glass spend a lot of time with their hands in the dirt. These farmers are the backbone to our society. They feed us: our souls, our bodies and our minds. We need them.Winemakers from Vigne Surrau in Sardegna, explaining the intricacies of Vermentino.
This is a good time of year to remember: the world needs a winemaker.
Friends of mine are going to the Carso soon. I am ecstatic for them because, even as this is a place I have not yet seen in person, I feel like I know it already. There will be a stiff breeze from the Adriatic and an electric, razor-sharp quality to the sunlight here. There will be lots of wine, cured pork, lovely cheeses. Bright red soil crunching under your feet. A salty brine- electricity in the air.
The wines from the Carso are authentic. There’s no other word for them. They are stone and sweat and dirt and rainwater. They’re not orange wines because it’s hip to make orange wine. Skin-contact is a necessary tool for ensuring native fermentation- not a political statement. Color is secondary to the very nature of the wine. Stick your nose in a glass of Vitovska and you won’t care about the color anyway- it’s beguiling and smells of jasmine and tea leaves and sea-spray. There’s acidity like a lightening bolt and a lingering umami that clings forever on your palate. The Carso is calling you!