Embracing the fruits of the season and a gluten-free lifestyle… Beast of a burger on the grill and can’t beat this beet salad!
There are two very distinct ways that the world receives greatness. One is boastful and has a broad range of individuals acknowledging on the surface. The other stands with subtle humility with only a special few reacting and receiving true influence. I find myself at a ripe age of nearly 30 reflecting often on who I am and who I’d like to become. I recognize what products I bother consuming and what people I endeavor to engage daily.
I made a special visit to my grandmother a few months ago who is nearly 90. She has never claimed to be perfect or superior than others. Her accomplishment of raising 8 children with my grandfather and providing for them on a nurse’s salary surely stands for optimum bragging rights. This remarkable figure has lived daily for others without needing extra attention for her efforts. Her selflessness is admirable and inspiring. Her entire life goal has been to serve the Lord, love others, and be loved. She believes in a pure expression of the roots she came from. This wonderful woman maintains a pillar of strength reflective of this humble greatness described.
This past week, I hosted two brothers from Campania, Italy in San Francisco. Amedeo and Luigi Barletta have conducted two of the most fascinating wine projects that have graced my presence. Without romancing to the nth degree… in a nutshell they basically discovered three grape varietals that were nearly extinct and had them established with the Italian consortium. Grapes that date back to Greek origins and were held in high esteem during the 1700s by the Bourbon Royal Family… these southern Italian gems are quite exemplary. Pallagrello Bianco with its finesse and ability to age like a fine Chardonnay, has a richness and mineral note that pairs wonderfully with the oily component in white fish. Pallagrello Nero has a meaty richness that appeals to the Cabernet lover. His lovely counterpart, Casavecchia, has a delicacy like Merlot that can stand freely or blend beautifully with the masculine Pallagrello.
In my eyes, bringing these varietals to the surface could be worthy of gloating, ‘Yes we discovered Italy’s newest Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese! Watch out Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto… we’re making our way in!’ Rather than pushing through the crowd with fighting elbows to be the next Barolo or Brunello, they are happy producing modest quantities of wine in a clean, pure, elegant manner with the hopes that fine connoisseurs will enjoy a glass and respect tradition. They sit with a humble grace as their wines receive exposure on some of the top restaurant lists in the country. They are happy to sit over a cup of coffee and talk about life, their kids, and how I manage to travel all over the country. When I think of the Barlettas, I remember this verse, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.…” Great people make great wine… wines of identity, character, uniqueness, and humility. When we taste wine and truly submit to the experience; it brings us to a place, a memory, a connection. I am honored to have spent the week with them and touched that their wines reminded me of a very special person. These are the wines I want to drink daily, types of people I’d like to engage regularly, and influences I will always welcome.
My favorites include: Vestini Campagnano Kajanero (red blend), Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Connubio (Casavecchia/Pallagrello Nero blend) & Poderi Foglia Falanghina.
Restaurant exposure coast to coast:
San Francisco: A 16, SPQR, Acquerello, La Ciccia
New York: Otto, Bills, Eataly, Celeste, Alba, Lupa
“This wine we are sipping from Tuscany has been at the mercy of a woman’s hands. Not even sure if acknowledging gender is considered a selling point, but I’m claiming it because I find the wines to have a certain delicacy and grace.” Two weeks ago I made this statement sitting in North Carolina amongst male restaurant buyers and business owners. They nodded their heads in approval reaffirming the precision to which a woman will conduct her vine and wine management.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Donum Estate in Carneros. Anne Moller-Racke of Donum has dedicated her life to the vines. With over 30 years spent in Sonoma, she has truly become one with the soil. As I sat in the midst of the vineyards just a month shy of harvest, I noticed bunches of grapes on the ground. Almost exactly one bunch below each vine. “Most people claim that they drop fruit, but they don’t actually do it!” Why trim the fat? When we minimize the distractions, our lives become more focused. These berries are craving individual love from the vine. A little less fruit… so much more concentration. Donum doesn’t host tastings to the public. Their attention to the details remains outside the doors of their facility. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Just over the hill from Napa, a slightly cooler climate seeks these grape varietals. Sweeping winds hug the hillsides pushing out unwanted pests and facilitating the ability to conduct sustainable agriculture.
The Chardonnay sings a melody just perfectly in tune, with a beauty so approachable that all are seeking to be an audience. This is a wine I want to sit outdoors in 70 degree weather and sip all evening. The crisp stone fruit finishes with a subtle toasted nut flavor that melts in your mouth like warm apple pie.
The Pinot Noir emanates an aura that I hope to achieve daily in my professional life. Not manufactured and molded according to a standard. An expression of its surroundings and an embrace of the potential deeply rooted in its soul. This is a clean, honest Pinot with bright cherry fruit. Blanketed with a warmth from its spicy character, this is a friend I’d invite to any party.
I wake up every day reminded of how lucky I am to be a young woman in the wine industry. I am proud of my gender and grateful for my youth. In 30 years I hope to leave a mark as Anne Moller-Racke has done. Wines of such dignity often carry the soul of the force creating them.
Eat Well With Wine No Fuss! Picnic Lunch Spread
- Assortment of French cheeses/ artisanal American cheddar with apple slices & Marcona almonds- gorgeous with the Chardonnay
- Kalamata olives, paté, sliced baguette – pairs perfectly with Pinot Noir
Sip the wines of Anne- Moller Rack – both Stemmler & Donum label. Mangia Bene, Cin Cin!
Rosé is like a smooth cup of coffee… the ritual of sipping with good company is just as enjoyable as the liquid inside the vessel. I own 13 unique designs of mugs. My husband thinks I have a coffee problem. Some might claim I’m a hoarder. I actually just like sitting down with a different memory every morning to slowly sip each cup and embrace the java. I’m often taken to a place or reminded of the person that gifted the device. I will often continue with my tranquility by switching to decaf and slow sip through the late morning. Wine in its many facets can serve the same purpose. Rosé in particular has an approachability that seeks companions, length of enjoyment, and desires a memory to be created.
While I shunned red wines upon my first few months living in the warmth as a CA resident, I’m back on the band wagon enjoying these crimson colored delights. Red wine recommendations for the warmer weather. Also in this post… a tasty meal prepped in minutes with just a few secret weapons to excite your mid-week taste buds!