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Monday, June 18, 2012

06/19 Italianizing America

Stephen slows down for Italy

Italy is a culture known for embracing life to the fullest.  They work so they can live... and live they do!  Meals are long and slow, with lively conversation, food prepared with soul and love.  Coffee is enjoyed in ceramic, standing, sitting, with lively conversation, and wine is ....... beautiful!

Whether it's Italians coming to the US and bringing their passion, or Americans who have travelled to Italy, fallen in love with its vitality, and sought to replicate it here, we can only hope as much of it rubs off as possible.
Steve discovers "real" pizza - no chili flakes, just the shells
and a finger bowl!

Slow Living's Steve and Sally are part of this mission.  While in Florence, we stumbled across a wine bar and restaurant that we found so appealing for its wine, food, ambiance, Italian hospitality and charm, we couldn't stay away!  

Taking time to live life to its .......Slowest

The dei Frescobaldi Ristorante & Wine Bar in Florence is located in the city’s historic heart, right on one of the corners of the Piazza Signoria. It offers a complete panorama of wines produced by the Frescobaldi family, all accompanied by the most classic Tuscan dishes as well as by mouth-watering special food items (with a note to other Italian regions as well).

Imagine our delight, when we were asked if we could interview Paolo Bategazzore, Partner in the family's venture with the Mondavi's Folio Wine Partners and the man instrumental in bringing the US a taste of some of Italy's finest drops - two of which we pay "summer" tribute to, a lively orange Pinot Grigio and a 100% Grecheto.

We also invite our local Italian convert Executive Chef Nick Ritchie of Alex Restaurant in Rutherford to bring an American perspective on living, eating and cooking in Italy.

Paolo Battegazzore
Director of Marketing and Partner,
Folio Wine Partners

Folio Fine Wine Partners is a new adventure among a group of seasoned professionals. I joined Folio after more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience, including seven years as General Manager of Luce della Vite, originally a joint venture between two well-known wine companies:  Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi of Florence and Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley, California.

As the Director of Marketing at Folio Fine Wine Partners, I am proud to be able to lead a group of talented marketing professionals in the development of wines from around the globe. For Luce, I developed the sales and marketing strategies needed to establish the company as an international presence. I have also worked at Procter & Gamble, Guala SpA, and Francesco Cinzano & Cia. To every role I have tried to offer an extensive knowledge of wine and food, a knowledge enhanced with advanced degrees in Agricultural Sciences as well as Food  Science and Nutrition.

My father is also in the wine business, so wine and food have always been important to me. It’s rewarding to do business with people who share my priorities.

I was born and raised in Tortona, Italy, and my wonderful family recently moved with me to beautiful Napa Valley.

Within the Chianti region the Marchesi de' Frescobaldi land stretches from Pomino Doc across Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, continuing on through Mugello until the province of Livorno. Since the 1700's proven ability, experience, passion and love has produced a superior quality of wine derived from this region.

Our vineyards, where the perfect relationship between atmosphere and the skilled use of raw materials, permits Frescobaldi the ability to guarantee the quality and unique personality of each wine.

Attems in the History and the Future of the Friuli Wines.

For generations, Attems has been considered synonymous with viticulture in Friuli Venezia Giulia and an example of a philosophy that sees the true expression of its territory in the wine’s quality and personality. A notion that translates into a collection of renowned wines, indisputably Friuli with a unique style, reflecting its tradition in the times of today.

The wines

In Collio, Attems creates wines of character; fresh, full of flavour and elegant, which reflect the peculiarity of the terroir. Its most prestigious wine is Cibinis, produced from one single vineyard of Sauvignon Blanc, which is situated on the homonymous hill. A complex wine of great elegance and perfect balance.

Furthermore, Attems is distinguished by its two extraordinary interpretations of Pinot Grigio: the traditional Pinot Grigio Ramato, whose freshness and fruitfulness account for its aromatic intensity, and the contemporary Pinot Grigio, fresh and fruity, with strength and sapidity.

Attems Cupra Ramato Pinot Grigio

Cupra Ramato: gentle and citric
Cupra Ramato continues a tradition of the Republic of Venice, since “ramato,” or coppery, was the term that referred to Pinot Grigio in contracts. A special vinification practice led to the use of this term: the must remains in contact with the skins for 36 hours and this practice gives the wine a very distinctive coppery hue. Attems Cupra Ramato boasts a rich, fruity bouquet, and opens full and weighty on the palate, with multi-faceted flavours.

The Arnaldo Caprai winery, founded in 1971 by Arnaldo Caprai, is the acknowledged leader in the production of top quality Sagrantino wines from Italy. Arnaldo Caprai purchased the renowned estate — which encompassed 12.5 acres of vineyards four decades ago — in order to produce unique, high quality, Umbrian wines.

A singular passion and deep understanding of the local varietals, and continuous expansion of the estate fueled the growth of the winemaking company. In 1988, Arnaldo’s son, Marco Caprai, began managing the family business. During this time, production of Arnaldo Caprai premium wines increased greatly, along with global recognition of the family brand. Marco’s unbridled determination led directly to new acquisitions, scientific research and technological innovation.

Colli Martani Grechetto DOC Grecante

Grecante is a fresh, crisp wine enjoyed chilled at a temperature of 50°F as an aperitif wine or consumed with seafood, veal, or poultry dishes.

"What makes this grape special is that during the Renaissance, the head of Montefalco’s municipality used to send Grechetto as a precious gift to princes and important clergymen. Arnaldo Caprai winery keeps this long tradition alive by producing Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC. The 2009 really showcases what this grape can produce, showing flavors of bosc pear, almond and lime, peach and pineapple, as well as a pleasing hint of crispness and bitterness, typical in this grape.

Now on to making your mouth water—if you are an oyster fan, pair this up with Kumamotos. The succulent pillows of sweetness are amazing alongside a crisp Grechetto from Umbria. The chef in the house also recommends paring this with freshly fried calamari or a crab salad. The bottom line is that this is a very versatile, food friendly wine worth exploring. Simply delicious!"
Pamela Heiligenthal, Enobytes.

About Umbria
Umbria is located in central Italy, bordered by Tuscany to the west, Le Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. A fertile region noted for its long history of wine production, Umbria is renowned for its eleven DOC zones and two DOCG zones, including  Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG. The area is characterized by a continental climate,with warm and dry summers and cold winters with some snowfall. The clay terroir yields wines rich in  extracts, bright in color and potential for improvement with long aging, while the calcium content enhances high alcohol and intensifies aromas.

Do it Sustainable: Sustainability as meeting point between present and the future
With the aim to assessing the success of the present only according to its consequences on the future, Arnaldo Caprai produces wines whose quality is not measured solely in terms of "final taste" but that includes the application at any stage of the ecofriendly and sustainable philosophy.

Starting from the first half of the 90s, we worked with the intent to minimize the environmental impact, and since 1995, we apply long-term practices focused to maintain the environmental integrity and to ethically meet the needs of the society.

As every agro-system overlaps, an existing "natural ecosystem" with some environmental impact is inevitable: our challenge is to minimize that impact working in defense of the biodiversity to preserve the soil and to avoid any waste of water. We take care about energy savings; recycling practices are carried out scrupulously and we are progressively reduce the use of chemicals spreading an ecofriendly message.

Nick Ritchie
Executive Chef
Alex Italian Restaurant, Rutherford

A native of the Napa Valley, Chef Nick Ritchie began his culinary career in the Tra Vigne kitchen in 1994 under Chef Michael Chiarello and Chef de Cuisine Carmen Quagliata.  Nick completed his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts at the CIA Hyde Park, NY as well as an internship at Sazerac in Seattle, WA with Chef Jan Birnbaum. 

In 2001 after completing his degree, Nick traveled to Lombardia, Italy working for one year at La Campagnola di Salo on Lago di Garda.  Upon his return to the United States, Nick worked under Chef Quagliata once again at The Vault, in Boston, MA.  In 2003, Nick began working as a sous chef for Chef Kevin Davis at The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Seattle, WA.

To round out his time in the Seattle area he worked for Chef Daisley Gordon at Campagne and Café Campagne.  Nick returned to the Napa Valley in 2006 to take the Chef de Cuisine position for Michael Chiarello's NapaStyle and in 2008 moved on to open Bottega where he received many accolades as Chef de Cuisine, including a Rising Star Chef in 2009.

 In May of 2011 Chef Ritchie departed from Bottega and is very excited to be the Executive Chef of Alex Italian Restaurant here in beautiful Rutherford, CA.

Alex Italian Restaurant

 Alex Italian Restaurant offers dishes focused on the fundamentals of classic Italian cooking: fresh handmade pasta, smart wine pairings, locally sourced food and attention to detail. Owners Alessandro Sbrendola and his wife Alessia offer a dining experience influenced directly from their home regions in Italy: Liguria and Romagna in a gracious and welcoming atmosphere.

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