Is the pizza in America better than the pizza in Italy?

best-pizza-neapolitanAbove: The “Diavola” pizza last night at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Patterson’s immensely popular Italianate pizzeria.

Paolo and the Cantele English-language blogmaster are currently on the road in the U.S. where they are attending the Boulder Burgundy Festival.

Last night, they had the opportunity to eat Pizzeria Locale, Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and award-winning executive chef Lachlan Patterson’s immensely popular pizzeria, which is modeled meticulously after the classic pizzerias of Naples (in both décor and the style and execution of the pies).

After dinner, as Paolo and his colleague chatted with a group of food and wine professionals who had gathered there, Paolo posited that the pizza in the U.S. is better than the pizza in Italy.

He qualified this statement by explaining that beyond Naples, it’s really difficult to find superb pizza in Italy whereas in the U.S., nearly every major city has top quality pizzerias (like Bobby and Lachlan’s Locale) where food-fired ovens imported from Naples churn out authentic-style pizzas made with artisanal ingredients.

Pizza has played such an important role in the propagation of Italian cuisine in the U.S., from the GIs returning home from the Second World War to the second and current wave of Neapolitan-inspired pizzaioli and their pies. And there’s no doubt that there are myriad pizzerias in the U.S. today that consistently deliver delicious, wholesome, traditional-style wood-fired pizza. (Paolo will be visiting another such pizzeria in a few days in Los Angeles.)

No matter how you slice Paolo’s observation, the pizza at Locale last night was excellent and we highly recommend it!

Stay tuned for more posts from Paolo’s adventures on the road in the U.S.

Pizzeria Locale
1730 Pearl St.
Boulder CO 80302
(303) 442-3003
Google map

Kind words for our Salice Salentino in Port Chester, New York

best-wine-shop-westchesterIt’s always one of the greatest rewards for any winemaker: Reading kind words for your wines written by a colleague.

It was such a joy for us to read this post by legacy retailer Tracy Maxon of Varmax Liquor Pantry in Port Chester (Westchester, New York). We couldn’t have been more flattered by her thoughtful profile of the winery and spot-on review of our Salice Salentino 2013.

“My first thought,” she wrote, “was that this will become many people’s house wine because you could easily drink this every day and it is versatile enough to enjoy with an array of different meals.”

Thank you, Tracy, for taking time to taste our wine and for the kind words. And thank you for all you do as an American small business owner and independent retailer. You are the heart and soul of the wine business.

Varmax Liquor Pantry
16 Putnam Ave.
Port Chester NY 10573
(914) 937-4930
Google map

Image via the Varmax Liquor Pantry Facebook.

Great Italian food grows in San Diego with RoVino…

rovino-san-diegoHappy Columbus Day, everyone!

We are always looking around the internets to see where and how people are enjoying Cantele wines. And we were geeked to discover that a new (since July of this year) restaurant on San Diego’s growing “restaurant row” in the city’s historic Little Italy is now serving a couple of our labels.

RoVino, a modern Italian eatery launched by three San Diego-based Italian-Americans, is the newest addition to an expanding field of fine-dining destinations in San Diego’s historic Italian community, where Sicilian fisherman settled more than a century ago.

Owners Tom Tarantino, Antonia Buono, and Vincenzo Bruno have created a menu inspired by Italian classics, contemporary interpretations of Italian cuisine, and — of course — dishes that have traditionally been served in a neighborhood where Italian and Sicilian are still spoken (no joke… just ask our blogmaster who hails from San Diego).

We can’t wait to get back out to Southern California to taste the porchetta that they feature on their menu.

Tom, Antonia, and Vincenzo: Congratulazioni for the launch of your new venture and much luck to you! Cent’anni!

2034 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego CA 92101
(619) 269-9341
Google map

Image via the the Rovino Facebook.

Primitivo: The meaning of the grape name

linea_cantele2015_primitivoPerhaps more than any other grape variety, Primitivo has been intensely scrutinized by wine historians and geneticists.

See, for example, the Wiki entry for Primitivo/Zinfandel, where the editors give an excellent overview of the tide of scholarship that has been devoted to the grape, including Charles Sullivan’s excellent monograph Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine, published in 2003 by University of California Press.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the intense attention that has been devoted to Primitivo is owed to the immense popularity and commercial success of Zinfandel in the U.S.

When University of California Davis researchers first ascertained that Zinfandel and Primitivo were identical in the early 1970s, the news set off a debate — with substantial commercial stakes — on who planted the grape first, the Californians or the Pugliesi.

The answer to that conundrum was sorted out by Sullivan in his book: the earliest appearances of the grape occur around the same time on both sides of the Atlantic and the true origins of the grape lead to Croatia, where it first became popular in the late 18th century and is known today as Crljenak Kaštelanski or Tribidrag.

While no one knows why the grape is called Zinfandel in the U.S., most believe that the name Primitivo is owed to the fact that it is an early ripening variety.

We know for certain that the Latin primitivus could be used to denote an early-ripening plant. In De Re Rustica by first-century agronomist Columella, for example, primitivus appears widely in this sense.

The earliest printed mention of Primitivo (the enonym or grape name) that I have been able to find dates back to 1843 and by the end of the nineteenth century, the grape name appears in numerous works of ampelography.

At that time, the word primitivo in Italian was commonly understood to mean original, as in the original state of something, although the Latin meaning was not lost on Italian ampelographers, who were, for the most part, highly accomplished Latinists.

So why would someone call this grape, which probably arrived from the upper Adriatic basin, Primitivo?

We’ll probably never know the definitive answer. Our fervent interest in the origins of European grape names is a very recent phenomenon and early ampelographers — from the Renaissance to modern era — were simply uninterested in oenophilology.

I believe there are number of reasons why the name became popular among Pugliese grape growers and wine brokers at that time.

Today, in a world thirsty for fine wine, growers try to let their grapes ripen to perfection. In the nineteenth century, when wine was valued more for its nutritional value and for the fact that it was potable substance in an era when drinking water was harder to come by, growers sought to achieve the greatest yield possible. They wanted to make as much wine as possible with those grapes. So, an early ripening variety was valuable inasmuch as it was ready to harvest earlier in the growing season, thus reducing the risk of damage by late summer or early autumn rainfall.

At the time, most Pugliese wine was sold in bulk to northern markets, where cooler temperatures made it difficult to obtain the desired alcohol content and color. Keep in mind: in an era before climate change and before the advent of temperature-controlled winemaking and cultured yeast, a Barbera grower faced immense challenges in achieving 13% alcohol in his wines. Today, growers have no such problems, in part thanks to a warming trend and in part thanks to contemporary technology. So, the name Primitivus must have been appealing to growers because it was a sort of advertisement that could help brokers to sell it in the north (that 1843 mention, by the way, was in a Lloyd’s shipping manifest for a shipment bound for Vienna).

In other words, the name itself evoked the grape’s reliability as an early ripening variety that produce high alcohol (which it readily does) and dark color (thanks to its thick skin).

One final note on the origin of the name: for some reason, many would-be ampelographers erroneously write that it comes from primitivus or primativus.

Primativus (with an a) does not exist in Latin.

Primativo (with an a) is a modern corruption of primitivo and while it is sometimes used to denote the variety, it’s a recent linguistic occurrence and has no relation to the word’s etymon.

Thanks for reading!

Jeremy Parzen

Amativo 2014 awarded prestigious “5 Bunches” by Bibenda Guide editors

bibenda-five-bunches-awardWe are thrilled to share the news that Cantele’s Amativo 2014 has been awarded the prestigious “5 Bunches” rating by the editors of the Bibenda Guide to the Wines of Italy 2017. The “5 Bunches” prize is the guide’s top rating.

The wine will be presented together with the other winners of this year’s top prize at a gala event and tasting next month (that’s a scene from last year’s gathering in Rome above). Reserve for this year’s gala by clicking here.

With the award of “5 Bunches” by the editors of the Bibenda guide, Cantele’s Amativo joins the ranks of some of Italy’s most famous wines, including entries from top wineries in Piedmont and Tuscany.

Congratulations to winemaker Gianni Cantele and his team for having brought home this coveted accolade!


Thank you to Good Things by David for the kind words for our wine (and the lovely photos!)

good-things-by-david-blogJust like a songwriter whose heart flutters when she/he hears someone say how much they like her/his song, there’s no greater music to a winemaker’s ears than kinds words about her/his wine.

We were thrilled to read Good Things by David’s review of our Salice Salentino.

“From Cantele in the Salice Salentino region of Italy comes this delicious rosso riserva made from 100% Negroamaro grapes… a smooth and delicate wine that pairs well with a bevy of pastas, chicken dishes, and red meats.”

Click here for the complete review and a pair of gorgeous photos by Good Things by David (great blog, btw!).