Bella di Cerginola olives and the meaning of their name.

The Cerginola olive is arguably the most famous in the world. Today, you regularly see Californian “Cerignola” olives in the self-serve buffets at gourmet markets like Whole Foods, for example, and when you visit the cured olive shelves, you’ll find a wide range of jarred “Cerignola” olives preserved in oil and salt.

But most people don’t realize that the proper name of this cultivar is actually Bella di Cerignola or (even more proper) Bella di Daunia.

Daunia is a historic area in Puglia in the province of Foggia. It was home to the ancient Italian tribe of the Daunians, who left a rich legacy of artwork and artifacts from their civilization.

The area is the spiritual home of the Bella di Daunia olive (the olive we know as Cerignola). It’s called Cerignola because it’s farmed primarily and most famously in Cerignola township in Daunia.

Its origins are not known with certainty: Some believe it was brought to Puglia by the Spanish during the Renaissance; others believe it came from an olive cultivar popular among and dear to the Romans. Regardless of its origins, it’s in Daunia that this olive clone found its spiritual home and celebrity.

Prized for its size and tender, flavorful character, it’s called bella not because of its beauty (bello and bella, depending on the gender, mean handsome or beautiful in Italian. It’s not really that pretty, actually, when you think about it.

In fact, bella is more aptly translated as fair. And the Bella di Daunia or Bella di Cerignola is part of a larger family of fruits (yes, olives are fruits, not vegetables) named Bella (like the Bella di Roma) or the many pears known as Belle (like Honey Belle or Belle Lucrative).

Whatever you call them, can you think of a better pairing for Cantele Chardonnay than a gently cured Bella di Daunia?

Congratulations to Chef Steve Samson on the launch of Rossoblu in Los Angeles

Above: The mural that overlooks the main dining room at Rossoblu in Los Angeles, a new and much anticipated restaurant where pan-Italian and Emilian cuisine is featured.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“Los Angeles is poised for some major restaurant openings in 2017. Perhaps one of the most anticipated is chef Steve Samson’s Rossoblu, set to open in downtown’s gorgeous new City Market South development.”

From Eater LA:

“Seriously, Rossoblu is a stunner. From the full-wall mural at one end to the weaving gold bar to the black marble open kitchen in the back, this Marshall Group-built space is about as casually glamorous as it gets. And that’s to say nearly nothing of the ample patio space out front, which is almost Salazar-esque in its simplicity. Guests can walk and wander between tables, wine glass in hand, while the cool evening air surrounds them, then float inside to check out chef Samson expediting orders from the massive grill in the back.”

From LA Weekly:

“Rossoblu… one of our most anticipated restaurant openings of 2017.”

Congratulations, Chef Steve! We can’t wait to try your new restaurant.

And look out, Angelinos: We’ve heard talk that our 2016 rosato is being poured by the glass there. Stay tuned!

Happy Mother’s Day!

In Italian you say, di mamma, ce n’è una sola.

Literally, it means, “there’s just one mother.”

But it is understood to mean, “everyone has just one mother.”

In other words, be thankful for that one loving and lovely mother who brought you into this world.

Happy Mother’s Day! Buona festa della mamma!

Lupa, one of New York’s great Italian mainstays

Paolo Cantele is currently in New York, “working the market” as we say in the wine business.

He’d been there before, of course, but he was once again blown away by the food at Lupa, one of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s first restaurants to open after the immense success of Babbo, back in the early days of the Italian food and wine renaissance in the U.S.

Beyond the unmitigated consistency and high quality of the classic Roman cuisine at Lupa, the most remarkable thing is how long this restaurant has been around and how it has maintained its status as one of the best and most authentic Italian dining experiences in the country. It opened in 1999: Nearly 20 years ago and still going strong!

It’s also remarkable to think of how many restaurateurs and chefs across the country have used Lupa as a blueprint and model for their own casual but authentic-style restaurants.

We have Mario and Joe to thank for a wave of great Italian cooking that we’ve been riding for nearly two decades.

Lupa: Check it out the next time you’re in NYC. It’s not going away and we are all the luckier for it!

170 Thompson St.
New York NY 10012
(212) 982-5089
Google map

Image via the Lupa Facebook.

Acidity doesn’t have to be a bad word…

Above: Negroamaro grapes, the primary variety used in Salice Salentino, known for its rich color and robust acidity.

I recently read a blog post about the Cantele Salice Salentino by a solid wine blogger from America. He liked the wine a lot but didn’t give it the greatest “score.” He graded it B-.

The reason? Acidity…

“This baby smacks your mouth with high acid,” he wrote. “Don’t get me wrong, this wine is well made, but begs for some food.”

Sadly, acidity is a dirty word to some people, especially in America and especially among people who have grown up drinking California and California-style wines. But acidity is what really makes wines food-friendly and it’s the red thread, the common denominator, if you will, in some of the world’s greatest appellations, like Barolo, Chianti, and Valpolicella in Italy and Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Jura in France.

Some people get turned off by acidity in wine. Even the mention of it can turn some people off. In my experience, those drinkers are people who typically open wine outside of mealtime. And in that context, acidity can be a turn-off: That tartness or sourness, without food, can overwhelm the palate and not deliver the pleasurable experience that you look for in a “cocktail” wine. Fair enough.

But in Italy, they have a saying: No wine without food and no food without wine. In fact, whenever you are hosted in someone’s home in Italy, they nearly always offer wine. But it is always served with some food. And likewise, food is never unaccompanied by wine.

Acidity is so key to so many of the great wines of the world. And acidity is what helps to draw out the flavors in the foods you pair it with. And acidity also helps in digesting your food: Like the natural acid in your stomach, it not only helps to break down the food but it also makes your body generate more of the acidity it needs to metabolize your food.

So if you’re looking for a “cocktail wine,” maybe Cantele Salice Salentino isn’t the right wine for you.

But as my American blogging colleague writes, “Hook it up with some fatty steaks, ribs or a pasta dish with red sauce and you will find its full potential.” Amen!

Jeremy Parzen
CanteleUSA blogger