Special thanks to Sandra Crittenden for taking the time to chat and break bread with us!

paolo cantele texas amy gross wine

Above: That’s Houston-based wine writer, educator, and blogger Sandra Crittenden, far left. She and (from left) Paolo Cantele, Amy Gross (of VineSleuth, to Paolo’s left), and Dan Redman (founder and owner of Cantele’s Texas broker Mosaic Wine Group, and CanteleUSA blogmaster Jeremy Parzen all had dinner in Houston last month and discussed Paolo’s family’s wines.

We were so thrilled to see this post by one of our favorite American wine bloggers, Sandra Crittenden, who recently joined us for dinner in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

“I really enjoyed hearing Paolo talk about the natural beauty of his home in Puglia, Italy,” writes Sandra, who authors a number of wine columns for publications based on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

“Whether he was talking about the winery, the vineyards or the beaches; his pride in his home and in what they produce there was apparent.”

“The family has worked to reduce the environmental impact from their winemaking on the land while also working with some Italian research groups. They are studying indigenous yeast strains, the effects of Brettanomyces on wine and on working to reduce micro-toxins. This combination of caring for the land in the vineyard while staying in front of the most current research in the winery is all part of the family’s goal to create wine that is not only a fresh, wholesome part of your dinner but a wine that can also tell the story of the place from which it came.”

Click here to continue reading…

Thank you, Sandra! We love your blog, Wine Thoughts!

Shelley Lindgren: paying homage to the woman who started it all

shelley lindgren

Above: On the second-to-last night of our recent Rolling Thunder Cantele USA 2013 Tour, Paolo and I managed to snag a table at Shelley Lindgren’s SPQR, her impossible-to-get-a-reservation Roman-inspired restaurant in San Francisco. That’s Paolo (right) with Shelley. They first met when Shelley was traveling through Southern Italy doing research for her book on Southern Italian wine.

Before there was Shelley Lindgren, no one thought it could be done: her all-Southern Italian wine list, which debuted at A16 when it opened in San Francisco in 2004, changed the way the wine world perceived Italian wines from Rome southward.

As legendary New York restaurateur Joe Bastianich put it in the jacket quote for the restaurant’s recipe and wine book (published in 2008), “Shelley Lindgren’s pioneering wine program at A16 has single-handedly brought recognition to the indigenous grapes of the Mezzogiorno.”

Until that time, Southern Italian wine was relegated to the “curiosity” and “misfits” pages of the great Italian wine lists. Yes, there were exceptions to this general rule. But for the most part, Southern Italian wines were considered — erroneously — as second-tier, “value” wines, not to be confused with the great wines of Italy.

When her all-Southern Italian list debuted in 2004, at the peak of the Italian wine and food renaissance in the U.S., it stunned the fine dining crowd with its breadth and its scope (I’ll never forget having a 1992 Gaglioppo there when I first visited in 2008).

Today, from Avellino to Lecce, from Vittoria to Vulture, Southern Italian winemakers and wine lovers all owe her an inestimable debt for having introduced a generation of Americans to the virtues of Southern Italian wine.

I, for one, could have never written my list at Sotto in Los Angeles, also 100% Southern Italian, a collection of wines that debuted in 2011. Thanks to Shelley, so many California importers began bringing in wines from Southern Italy and by the time that I got to the game, she had done all the heavy lifting for me by nudging importers to seek out and bring the wines to the U.S.

Thank you, Shelley, for your pioneering spirit, your superb wine knowledge, and for being one of the nicest people I have ever met in the fine wine and food trade.

We had a great meal and a great time at your restaurant.

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

Big things are happening for Residual Kid (and we caught their show in LA)

residual kid los angeles

On of the fun things about being on the road hawking and talking about wine is connecting with friends while traveling.

When Paolo and I found out that the Austin-based band Residual Kid was playing in LA on the same night we were working at Sotto, we were entirely geeked: two members of the band are the children of Paolo’s Texas broker, Dan Redman, owner and founder of the Mosaic Wine Group.

Paolo and I have both followed the band since they started to get big in Texas and Paolo even saw them play on the Lower East Side of Manhattan earlier this year.

We can’t share the news here but they were in LA to do a big showcase at the Bootleg Theater. They had an awesome set and they have big things in store for them…

Great band, great people, great music.

Congrats, Residual Kid, you rock!

Video: Driving from Lecce to iSensi

A video I shot a week ago as Paolo Cantele and I drove from Lecce to the village of Guagnano where he’s recently opened the iSensi Tasting Room and Cooking School, a “laboratory of the senses” at the Cantele winery.

The photo below was taken during a video we shot at the school, where local food expert and cooking instructor Ylenia Sambati taught Paolo and me how to make orecchiette.

I’ll be posting all about my visit to Lecce and iSensi in coming days.

Please stay tuned…

Jeremy Parzen
blog master

cooking school southern italy

A new guide to Pugliese wines

puglia wine book

Above: Click here or the image above to view Viktorija’s presentation of her new e-book, The Wines of Puglia.

As surprising as it may sound, very little has been written in English on the wines of Puglia. That’s just one of the reasons we’re excited to share the news that leading Puglia expert Viktorija Todorovska has just released a new e-book, Wines of Puglia (Learning Medium, Chicago).

Click here for the iTunes link.

A linguist and college professor, Viktorija Todorovska shifted gears a few years ago and devoted her studies (and passion) to the food and wine of Puglia.

That passion resulted in the 2011 Puglia Cookbook (Agate Surrey), a recipe collection that was met with high praise in the world of gastronomic publishing.

Her new guide to the wines and winemakers of Puglia, including an interactive feature that allows you to discover how Pugliese wines are paired with Pugliese cuisine, is the first definitive English-language title devoted exclusively to mosaic of grapes and wines that make the region one of Italy’s most important centers for the production of fine wine.

It’s sure to become a classic.

Click here to learn more.