How to pronounce Salice Salentino

After spending the day yesterday in Los Angeles tasting wines for the restaurant Sotto, where I co-author the nearly all southern Italian wine list, I was reminded by how challenging it can be for English speakers to pronounce the wine name Salice Salentino.

While Salentino isn’t as challenging because the stressed syllable is the penultimate and thus the scansion that most Anglophones expect, Salice — SAH-lee-cheh — is often problematic for English-speakers because the stress lands on the first syllable.

So I wanted to share the video that I made a few years ago when visiting Paolo Cantele in Salento.

Salice Salentino is the name of an Italian wine appellation and it’s the name of a town as well: I’ve also been working on my research into the origins of the toponym Salice Salentino and will post my findings after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanks for being here and for speaking Italian wines!

Ca’ del Sole in LA: one of the best Italian wine lists in the U.S.

best italian restaurant toluca lakeAbove: Housemade spaghetti with fresh seafood from the Pacific Ocean at Ca’ del Sole in Universal City (Los Angeles). Can you imagine how insanely well a glass of Cantele Rosato from Negroamaro would pair with that? It’s served by the glass at this legendary “Hollywood” eatery (image via the Ca’ del Sole Facebook).

Ca’ del Sole means house of the sun in Italian.

There couldn’t be a better name for this shining Hollywood restaurant institution and one of the best Italian dining destinations on the west coast of the U.S., where you’re as likely to experience a celebrity sighting as you are to have a delicious and authentic plate of housemade pasta paired with a native Italian grape variety.

While Ca’ del Sole wine list does feature the “usual suspects” and heavy-hitters from California, its heart and soul is indigenous Italian grape varieties.

best italian wine list los angelesOne of the things we love so much about this list is that it also highlights “key grapes” for every Italian region.

This isn’t just a “wine list”: it’s an educational tool that teaches its users about Italian wine and offers them wonderful breadth in terms of wines that Italians actually drink and love.

We couldn’t be more proud that Ca’ del Sole currently pours our Rosato from Negroamaro by the glass and our Salice Salentino by the bottle.

It’s a fantastic wine list to be a part of and we highly recommend it to you.

Ca’ del Sole
4100 Cahuenga Blvd
Toluca Lake, CA 91602
(818) 985-4669
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Tornado in Puglia fells centuries-old olive trees

Cantele grape grower and winemaker Gianni Cantele posted these photos this week on his Facebook after a tornado ravaged olive groves that lie between the townships of Sava and Fragagnano in Taranto province on Wednesday.

tornado puglia apulia“This is the umpteenth extreme weather event in Puglia,” he wrote. “A tornado between Sava and Fragagnano and hundreds of centuries-old olive trees ripped from the ground by the power of the wind.”

“I keep thinking about my [recently picked] strawberries and I say to myself, there’s something that’s not right on this planet.”

Zoom out on the map below to get a sense of where the damage took place.

olive trees tornado puglia apulia

An argument supporting the “black black” theory for the origin of Negroamaro’s name

negroamaro grapes pugliaAbove: Negroamaro grapes are used to produce Cantele’s Salice Salentino, its Rosato (Rosé) from Negroamaro, and its monovarietal Negroamaro.

I’ve posted here on the CanteleUSA blog a few times on different theories for the origin of Negroamaro’s name.

My training as a philologist and my discoveries of early mentions of Negroamaro have led me to agree with the authors of Wine Grapes (Robinson, Harding, Vouillamoz) that the “black bitter” theory is the more probable etymology.

In a nut shell, I believe that the name — literally, negro or black, a synonym for red [grape], amaro or bitter — more likely owes its origin to the fact that the variety begins to appear at a time when many winemakers in Europe were shifting from sweet styles of wine to the drier style that we know today. The theory is supported by late-nineteenth-century mentions of the name side-by-side with negro dolce, literally sweet black.

But in true philological spirit, I wanted to share a note from my research that supports the competing theory, i.e., that the ampelonym comes from the Latin niger or black and the Greek mavros or black.

Proponents of this theory for the origins of the name point to the belief that “hybrid” names were common in antiquity. In the Koiné of ancient Mediterranean culture, they claim, things were often named twice, borrowing from the Greek and Latin terms for the same thing.

In my own research, I haven’t been able to identify examples of this. I did, however, stumble across an ancient linguistic phenomenon that does support the “black black” theory.

It’s called “hybrid tautology” by linguists. In other words, a repetition of the same word in two different languages (tautology is the “unnecessary repetition, usually in close proximity, of the same word, phrase, idea, argument, etc.”; Oxford English Dictionary).

And it’s commonly found in toponymy (i.e., the study of place names) in parts of Italy that were colonized by the Greeks in antiquity.

The township name Linguaglossa (Sicily) is an example of this where the Latin lingua and the Greek glossa both mean language or tongue.

Mongibello, one of the names for Etna (also in Sicily) is another example, where the Latin mons for mountain is combined with the Arabic gebel, which also means mountain.

Here’s the link to the page on the Treccani website where I found these examples. And there are others as well (in case you’re not familiar with the Treccani encyclopedias, they are akin to the Encyclopaedia Britannica in English).

The fact that Puglia was also a Greek colony lends weight to the theory that the grape name could be a hybrid tautology.

But I would counter that the name Negroamaro only begins to appear in the nineteenth century and we simply don’t have any examples of it before then. I still believe that its are much more recent and it would be a stretch to point to precedents in ancient toponymy that were formed during the classical age.

As I always point out when I write about the origins of grape names, philology is an inexact science and it rarely delivers definitive, black-and-white answers (excuse the pun).

The great thing about research like this is that opens up a window into the past and the great cultural treasure of Italy and the Italians.

Thanks for reading.

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

Martha Brooklyn: Cantele Negroamaro in da house

martha brooklyn best restaurantChef Andres Valbuena of Martha in Brooklyn “seems to like dramatic turns,” writes “Hungry City” columnist Migaya Lishan for the New York Times.

“A native of Caracas, Venezuela, he spent a decade working in fine-dining restaurants, including Mugaritz in Spain, the French Laundry and Gordon Ramsay at the London. His dishes at Martha are a genial kiss-off to that world, intentionally disheveled, favoring big flavors over polish and nuance.”

“Mr. Valbuena’s dishes have the noisy forthrightness of good garage rock: an unkempt crumble of ground duck, five-spice powder, soy sauce and Shaoxing wine over house-made egg noodles; broccoli rabe in Chinese black bean sauce escalated with Korean chiles and chips of fried garlic; snow peas flustered by horseradish and dangerously lolling Thai bird chiles. Among these, a plate of raw fluke tempered with yuzu and bejeweled with salmon roe comes off as an acoustic number, meditative and lovely.”

If ever there were a joint that dispelled the myth that red wine should never be served with fish, it would be Martha, named after the patron saint of cooks.

And that’s just one of the reasons we are proud that they currently serve Cantele Negroamaro by-the-glass at Martha.

The other reason is “intentionally disheveled.”

184 Dekalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
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Image via the Martha Brooklyn Facebook.