Cantele at Vinitaly: Hall 11, Stand E2. Stop by, taste, and visit!

best puglia wine vinitalyOne of my personal strategies for avoiding the lines, crowds, and traffic at Vinitaly is to use the Re Teodorico (pronounced REH TEH-oh-doh-REE-koh) entrance on the south side of the fair grounds, as opposed to the main entrance.

It’s always less crowded and you never have to wait to get in (see the map below).

The other cool thing about it is that once you’re inside, the Puglia pavilion is practically right in front of you (it’s just to the right of the entrance). And so you’re very close to the Cantele stand (a lot closer than the main entrance).

And another cool thing about the Re Teordorico entrance is that there are concessions and bathrooms right there between pavilion 12 and 11 (11 is Puglia). And because they’re on the opposite side of the main entrance, they tend to be more manageable.

That’s my tip for getting to the Cantele stand without much hassle.

But where to park, you ask? I’ll never give my parking strategy away!

Hope to see you at the fair. I’ll be at Cantele on Sunday at 11:30 and will be visiting a few times throughout the event if you’d like to taste there with me.

Jeremy Parzen

re teodorico vinitaly entrance

“Pasolini’s girlfriend” and a poem in the shape of a rose

pasolini poems poetryThe following is my translation of a post entitled “Pasolini’s Girlfriend,” by Rome-based blogger and author Carmelo Albanese. It originally appeared on March 4 and was one of the week’s most popular in the Italian blogosphere.

When Paolo Cantele brought it to my attention, I just had to translate it. Enjoy!

Image via GoogleBooks.

Anyone who lives in Rome and is about my age, 45, probably remembers her. She was always dressed in black.

Crumpled and folded over herself, she would spend hours and hours preparing roses to sell in restaurants. Every year, you’d see her seated on the steps of the Pantheon or in the Campo de’ Fiori, working away. She looked like she was a 100 years old or more. But she probably around 75 and the years had not been kind to her.

She was tiny, with a slight hunchback. But more than a physical deformity, it seemed like it was her body posture.

She was always bent over her roses. Never a word. She would just reach out to passersby and offer her roses in exchange for 1,000 lire.

I was always one to wander the streets in search of life’s wonders. I never tired of it and never will. And so, on a summer evening in 1990, in August, when Rome often reveals its deepest truths to those willing to listen, I sat down next to her.

I used to run into her often and I was curious about her. Not long after I sat down, I bought a rose. It was an excuse to strike up a conversation. But nothing doing. She sold me the flower in total silence. Even though I sat with her for quite a while, she didn’t utter or word or even look up at me. Eventually I got fed up and started to leave.

“Men don’t give roses to women anymore,” she said unexpectedly. Her voice was so sweet that it seemed impossible that it lived inside of her.

“Yes, that’s true,” I said. “There’s no more poetry out there anymore.”

I wonder how our conversation would have ended had I never said that.

“I love poetry!” she said.

“You like poetry?” I asked her.

It was hard to believe that she had suddenly started talking.

“Do I like poetry?” she said. “Who do you think I am? Do you think I’ve only ever sold roses in my life? Pier Paolo never published a book without having me read it first!”

Surprised by her answer, I asked her, “Pier Paolo who?”

“Pasolini,” she said without missing a beat. “Pier Paolo Pasolini.”

I was as astonished as I was skeptical.

“He trusted me,” she went on. “Once, at a dinner, he said as much in front of a big group of people. His book of poems La religione del mio tempo [The Religion of My Time] was about to be published. And he said that the book could finally come out because I had given him permission. He came around the table and gave me a rose. O yes! There’s an extraordinary poem in that collection. What a great poem!”

I was speechless. The fact, alone, that she had decided to speak to me was quite a surprise. And now she was talking about Pasolini as if he had been an old friend of hers. And she had even mentioned the collection of poems with the authority of a seasoned literary critic. I started to think that what she was saying was true.

“I don’t know the book,” I told her. “You said it includes a wonderful poem. Do you remember the title?”

She started to laugh.

“The name? Are you kidding? I remember the whole poem.”

“Really?” I said. I didn’t know what to expect if I asked her to recite it but I did anyway.

She still hadn’t even looked up at me. But I could see her stare at one of her roses as she trimmed the stem with a little knife. After a while, she began to recite the poem.

“It’s called ‘A un papa’ [‘To a Pope’],” she said.

She recited it in a single breath and was literally captivated by her words. A beautiful poem that I had never read.

You knew that sin does not mean doing wrong.
Not doing right is the meaning of sin.
What good you could have done! But you did not.
There was no sinner greater than you.

A chill ran done my spine as she read these lines, as if I were in a trance.

“Did you get that? The pope?” she continued. “The pope can’t even buy a rose! And he wouldn’t even buy one if he could!”

Then she burst out laughing again.

I stood up abruptly and told her I would be right back.

I ran as quick as I could to [the book store] Feltrinelli on Largo Argentina [boulevard] that had opened just a few months prior. And I swiftly purchased a copy of La religione del mio tempo by Pier Paolo Pasolini. It was an impulse buy.

“Look,” I said to her, “I bought the book! Here’s the poem ‘A un papa’!”

She didn’t look up as she asked me, “Tell the truth! You didn’t believe me, did you?”

I felt embarrassed and made a lame attempt at an impromptu excuse.

“No, that’s not the reason why,” I told her.

She didn’t buy it and she hid herself once again in the depths of her silence. She didn’t say another word.

After a while, I stood up and started to leave again. And in that moment, for the first time, she looked up at me.

“You want to know something? Pier Paolo and I were boyfriend and girlfriend. But he didn’t want anyone to know. You believe me, don’t you?” she asked me

“Yes, I do,” I answered.

—Carmelo Albanese

The cycle of life begins again in the vineyards as olive growers face a mounting crisis

pruning vineyards puglia 1“Signs of life as the vineyard reawakens,” writes winemaker Gianni Cantele on his Facebook earlier today.

“Pruning gives new vigor to the vines for a vintage that we hope will be high in quality.”

“I’m dedicating this images to all my friends who are olive growers. They are facing a true tragedy. And although they are surrounded by many who love and support them, they are also surrounded by the cowardice and the senselessness.”

He’s referring to the Pierce’s Disease crisis in Puglia, which is threatening thousands of olive trees.

As we reported a few weeks ago, the Italian government has been slow to act to combat this growing threat.

An innovative wine list at Aroma on N. French, Amherst, NY

best italian restaurant upstate new yorkAbove: “Built from the ground up,” write the owners of Trattoria Aroma on their website, “to provide a unique wine and culinary experience.” The layout of their wine list really impressed us with its originality (image via their Facebook).

You can tell a lot about a restaurant by reading its wine list.

The selection and style of wines reveal the owners’ focus and interests.

And the composition, layout, and execution of the list tell us volumes about the authors’ sensibilities and tastes.

We really loved the wine list at Trattoria Aroma on North French in Amherst, New York, which came to our attention recently.

Not only is it an aesthetically pleasing list to read (the layout is elegant and easy to navigate), but it also includes suggested pairings for each section of the list.

Honestly, we’d never seen anything quite like it before and we found it to be truly brilliant.

For the “Southern Italy and Islands” section (where you’ll find Cantele’s Amativo), the authors write: “Parings: Fresh vegetables, seafood, sausage, citrus, pork, soft cheeses, spice.”

The flavors and aromas they thoughtfully evoke not only give us an indication of how well they know wine from this part of the world, but they also give the Italian wine newbie a wonderful frame of reference for the tasting profiles of their selection.

It’s a great and extremely useful idea. Check it out here.

Trattoria Aroma on North French
4840 N French Rd
East Amherst, NY 14051
(716) 688-8848
Google map

The Cantele story

best wine pugliaAbove: The current generation of Cantele, from left, Umberto, Luisa, Paolo, and Gianni.

The founder of the Cantele winery, Giovanni Battista Cantele — grandfather to the current generation — was born in 1907 in Pramaggiore (in the Province of Venice). During the Second World War, he moved to Imola (Province of Bologna) where he met and married the beautiful Teresa Manara. The couple had two sons, Augusto and Domenico.

After the war, Gianni — as he was known — made a career for himself in the wine trade. Like many in his generation, he found steady work as a broker of bulk wine that he would purchase in Puglia and then sell in Northern Italy. At the time, winemakers in northern Italy had difficulties in achieving the desired alcohol content and body in their wines — in part because of the climatic conditions and in part because of the available winemaking technology. It was not uncommon to ship wine from Puglia (where grape growers had no problems in obtaining fruit with sufficient sugar levels) to blend into the wines of the north. Expanding prosperity and a population explosion in the north had led to growing demand for quality wine.

On one of the many business trips that Gianni made from Imola to Lecce (Puglia’s baroque masterpiece and the hub of its viticulture), he took his wife Teresa with him. It was love at first sight: as soon as they arrived in Lecce, she made up her mind that she wanted to move the whole family there.

In the year’s leading up to Italy’s “economic miracle” and post-war recovery, it was unthinkable that a family with a thriving business would choose to abandon the prosperous north and relocate in the south, where agriculture was still the leading industry. But Gianni’s devotion to Teresa and their shared love of the pristine Salento peninsula inspired the couple to make a “reverse” migration. When most young married couples were moving to the north in search of factory jobs, the Cantele family backed the bags and headed in the opposite direction.

Teresa and Gianni’s son Augusto, 16 years old at the time, was reluctant to follow the family to the “deep south” — even though, in his later years, there was no one who loved Salento more. He remained in the north and went to school to study enology in Conegliano at the historic Institute for Viticultural Research and Experimentation. After completing his degree, he “cut his teeth” in the wine industry working at wineries in the Veneto (northern Italy), where he developed his deft hand for making white wines.

At the end of the 1960s, August finally decided to reunite with his family in Lecce and he began working as a consulting enologist in the townships of Guagnano and Salice Salentino. In 1979, father Gianni and sons Augusto and Domenico decided to start a new winery under the family name. In the early years, Cantele was a bottler, purchasing wines from the wineries where Augusto worked as a consultant. Then, in the 1990s, Cantele began to acquire vineyards and started making its own wines.

The 1990s were important years for Italian wine, with impressive growth in foreign markets, particularly in the U.S. and Central and Northern Europe. In 2003, to meet the growing demand for its wines in Italy and abroad, Cantele opened a new state-of-the-art winery between the villages of Fra Guagnano and Salice Salentino (the best growing zone in Puglia).

Today, the Cantele family owns 50 hectares planted to vine and the family’s current winemaker Gianni (one of Augusto’s sons) and agronomist Cataldo Ferrari manage another 150 hectares owned by other growers. Augusto’s other son Paolo is the winery’s brand manager and Domenico’s son Umberto is head of sales. Domenico’s daughter Luisa also works in the estate’s corporate offices together with Gianni’s wife Gabriella. The business remains to this day a true “family affair.”

Grandfather Gianni was a red wine lover. Grandmother Teresa preferred white. When Gianni lovingly scolded her, noting that there were plenty of red grapes in the world that she could enjoy, she responded by saying that if he wouldn’t make her any white wine, she would ask their son Augusto to make her some.

The winery’s flagship wines “Teresa Manara” are named in her honor.

The Cantele winery produces 2 million bottles annually, including indigenous Pugliese grapes like Primitivo and Negroamaro as well as international varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah.

An American love affair with Negroamaro?

“America is falling in love with Negroamaro,” wrote Paolo from Pittsburgh the day after he led a guided tasting of his family’s wines at Lidia’s Italy in Pittsburgh last week.

His note reminded us that we’re not the only ones in love with Negroamaro.

Here’s what Food & Wine executive wine editor Ray Isle had to say about the 2010 Salice Salentino, which in included in his list of this list of “Best Red Wine Values” in December 2014:

2010 Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva

Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot, produces so many good-value reds that it can be heard to choose among them. All of Cantele’s basic bottlings are good, but my favorite was this Negroamaro-based red, full of smoky dark cherry fruit and brambly spice notes.

Click here for Ray’s article.

best negroamaro harvest 2014

“America is falling in love with Negroamaro”: Paolo at Lidia’s Italy Pittsburgh

lidia bastianich restaurantLast Thursday’s Cantele wine dinner at Lidia’s Italy Pittsburgh was a smashing success, writes Paolo, who’s still on the road in the U.S.

“Everyone loved how clean the wines are, especially the Chardonnay because it’s ‘unoaked.’”

“The Primitivo was also well received because it’s not sweet or overly ripe like so many fashionable wines today. Many Primitivos and Zinfandels have such high levels of residual sugar that they are easy to drink but hard to pair with food because ultimately they are too sweet.”

But it was the Salice Salentino that made the biggest splash of the night.

paolo cantele wine“It seems that Americans are starting to fall in love with Negroamaro,” said Paolo (above, speaking to guests).

A special thanks to Jim Hutton, regional manager for Vias (who imports Cantele wines in the U.S.) and to John Gratner, sales rep for distributor The Wine Merchant, who organized the event.

Please click here for the Lidia’s Italy Pittsburgh website.