Empathy and a will to dream in tough times

bike tours pugliaIt’s been a tough year in Italy.

Grape growers and winemakers were vexed by “bizarre” weather across Italy.

But troubles in the vineyards are dwarfed by Italy’s stagnant economic growth and its staggering unemployment rate.

According to the Italy’s national data institute, nearly one out two Italians aged 15-24 are currently unemployed (44.2%).

In America, we’re starting to see the signs of economic recovery and that’s good news for people who sell Italian wine in the U.S.

But Italy and Italians continue to struggle to get back on their feet.

The CanteleUSA blog is about Cantele wines in the U.S. But it’s also about people: the people who drink the wines, the people who sell the wines, and the people that make the wines.

I was so moved by the following Facebook post by winemaker Gianni Cantele that I just had to translate it and post it here. Thanks for reading…

A bike ride, the north wind, the smell of the Mediterranean brush, sea, empathy.

Yes, empathy between persons who admire one another, who share values that sometimes appear to be becoming extinct. Persons who, nonetheless, still have a desire to dream and to say that yes, we can still change this country.

But from the bottom up. We can do it ourselves. Not our politicians. We know that they don’t really want to.

Empathy.

Gianni Cantele

Scenes from Lake Como: the Coldiretti International Agriculture Forum

carlo petrini villa este coldirettiYou may remember that Cantele grape grower and winemaker Gianni Cantele was elected as the president of Coldiretti Puglia back in January of last year (Coldiretti is the Italian confederation of food growers).

This weekend he’s attending the group’s International Forum on Agriculture in Cernobbio on Lake Como as the Puglia delegate.

That’s Carlo Petrini (above), founder of the International Slow Food movement, addressing the assembly.

villa d este como italyThat’s the Villa d’Este on the lake, where the conference is being held.

lake como house rentals“It’s a splendid day,” writes Gianni on his Facebook on October 17, 2014. “This is global warming weather!”

Cantele by the sea ocean at the fabu Casa Ado in Los Angeles

best italian seafood los angelsWhen it comes to true, authentic Italian cuisine in Los Angeles, Chef Antonio Murè, co-owner of Casa Ado in Venice, California is the real deal.

A funny thing happens when Italians come to Los Angeles.

Guarda che bello il mare californiano! you might hear them say. Look how beautiful the California sea is!

Occasionally, the exclamation is greeted by an Italian language geek who will point out that it’s an ocean, not a sea.

Technicalities aside, seaside oceanside dining is always a treat when visiting the Golden State and there is no better place to enjoy the ocean breeze than Casa Ado in Venice, California where Chef Antonio Murè serves some of the best and most authentic Italian cuisine in the U.S. today (see above).

Between its phenomenal produce and the bounty of fresh fish (from the ocean), California gives Chef Antonio the raw materials he needs to make true Italian food.

It’s simply one of the best Italian restaurants in the U.S. right now and we’re proud that his wine list includes Cantele wines.

Casa Ado
12 W Washington Blvd
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 577-2589
Google map

Image via the Casa Ado website.

Scenes from iSensi, Cantele’s tasting room, by Kathy Ayer, a favorite food and wine blogger

best wine tasting class pugliaWe couldn’t resist sharing these photos by one of our favorite Italian food and wine bloggers, Kathy Ayer, author of Food Lover’s Odyssey and one of the leading “food sherpas” working in Europe today.

Kathy took part in a tasting and cooking class today at the Cantele tasting room, iSensi, at the winery in Guagnano (Lecce province).

best verdeca puglia wineWe’re devoted followers of Kathy’s and so we saw the photos in our feed.

Based in Provence, Kathy leads food- and wine-themed trips across Europe. And as she writes on her blog, when she’s not working, she’s busy “eating her way through France and Italy.”

best salumi pugliaCeleste, above, was Kathy’s group’s sommelier today at the tasting.

You can learn more about Kathy and what she does on her blog, Food Lover’s Odyssey, where she’s been active chronicling her travels for many years now.

recipe southern italian bracioleBut more than anything, we just enjoy following her on social media because she’s always sharing wonderful and, often times, out-of-the-way spots for great food and wine experiences in Europe.

In other words, we wish we were her! :)

Find and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Kathy, we’re so glad you made it to iSensi!

On oak aging, a note by winemaker Gianni Cantele

The following is a note from Cantele winemaker Gianni Cantele. Originally posted last year, we wanted to share it again here as we follow Gianni and his vinification of the 2014 vintage.

puglia barriqueAbove: The cask aging cellar at Cantele (photo by Wine Friend, who also posts about a tasting at the winery).

We currently have about 700 barriques, small oak casks used for aging wine. Almost all of them come from French coopers and are made with French wood. 10% of our barriques are made from American wood and are used solely for the aging of our Primitivo.

A French barrique costs Euro 700. Why am I telling you this? So that you can get a sense of the budget required for a winery that has roughly 700 barriques in its cellar. This is one of the reasons that wines aged in wood casks cost more.

Many people believe, erroneously, that wood casks are used to give a certain flavor to the wine. The truth is that the wine is conceived in the vineyard and that’s the wine that we put into the barriques. When we’re making an important wine, with a lot of structure, the wine has the muscle needed for cask aging.

Generally, we start with a wine that doesn’t already have the balance needed for the presence of tannins and other polyphenols. The barrique is the tool that we use to achieve that balance. Thanks to the natural micro-oxygenation that wood permits, chemical-physical changes occur in the wine that transforms an imbalanced wine into a balanced wine with structure.

Cask aging also helps to stabilize the color of the wine itself and to increase its longevity. On its own, the anthocyanin molecule would wane. I need to make that molecule bind itself to the tannin. And for this reason, I need an oxygen molecule that will permit it to bind itself to the tannin. This is why micro-oxygenation in oak casks is so important.

It’s wrong to think that wood casks are used to give different types of flavor to wine. It’s also true that when the wood is toasted, it can have an “aromatic impact.” The important thing is to make sure that the impact isn’t excessive and that it respects the grape variety’s characteristics without overshadowing them.

We use our barriques for five years and then they are retired (we sell them for Euro 60 each to restaurants, wine shops, and wine bars that use them for decoration).

Our barriques are crafted by top coopers and as soon as we empty them, we wash them with hot water and refill them immediately with wine.

Here’s the aging regimen for our most important wines (Teresa Manara Negroamaro, Amativo):

1/3 new barriques
1/3 one-year-old barriques
1/3 two-year-old barriques

For all the other red wines, we use barriques in their third, fourth, and fifth years.

The only white wine for which we use wood casks is our Teresa Manara Chardonnay. The wine is racked into barrique while still fermenting (as for all of our white wines, fermentation is initiated in stainless steel so that we can maintain a constant temperature of 15° C.). Once the fermentation in barrique is completed, the wine ages on its lees in barrique and we perform bâtonnage (a stirring of the lees) on a daily basis for two months. Then the lees are stirred once or twice a week for the remaining months before bottling.

Joel Mack, a favorite U.S. wine writer, recommends Cantele Salice Salentino

joel mack wine writerHere’s what Joel Mack, one of our favorite U.S. wine writers, had to say about the Cantele Salice Salentino, one of his recommendations for Bayou City magazine in Houston.

“Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva. This Negromaro, a hearty red from far southwestern Italy, provides ‘Old-world character with the ripeness and polish that appeals to New World wine lovers.'”

Thank you, Joel!

Click here for the complete review.

Image via Joel Mack’s Facebook.