• Ernest Hemingway famously hated journalists and never agreed to meet any, especially not in his Cuban home. He made an exception for me in 1953, under the insistence of Rowohlt, who had been his German publisher for thirty years. At
    Read More
  • Da Vittorio has been a Bergamo household name for over half a century. The large family owned firm turned fifty this year. Vittorio, who founded the company and gave it its name, handed the reins over to his five children
    Read More
  • Passion and knowledge. These are the keys to the success of Kerin O’Keefe, one of the world’s most influential wine critics. Born near Boston, Massachusetts, and having relocated to our country in the 1990s, Kerin has elected Italian wines as
    Read More
  • Classic Tucci

    July 2016
    Stanley Tucci grew up in a loving Italian family where he was taught vital life lessons at the dinner table. Sitting down for a sprawling family meal together was the occasion for a joyous mix of cuisine and conversation. This
    Read More
Tucci_Angeles People - Exploring Taste Magazine

Tucci Angeles 2Stanley Tucci grew up in a loving Italian family where he was taught vital life lessons at the dinner table. Sitting down for a sprawling family meal together was the occasion for a joyous mix of cuisine and conversation. This was also how the talented actor developed an abiding passion for food and a deep appreciation for how wine could enhance the overall experience of dining. While his mother Joan would come up with one variation after another on classic Italian ‘old country’ dishes, his father was constantly trying out new wines as well as producing his own private vintage in the basement of their New York home.

The Tucci family’s love for food and wine has always informed Stanley’s perspective on both his personal and professional life. He hosted a television series called Vine Talk, which he developed with long-time actor friend Steve Buscemi, and has also published two cookbooks. The Tucci Cookbook, published in 2012, combines Northern and Southern Italian dishes from both sides of his family, and includes wine pairings as well as interesting variations on classic Italian cucina.
In 2009 Tucci’s first wife Kate, with whom he has three children, died tragically of breast cancer. In July, 2010, while attending good friend and Devil Wears Prada co-star Emily Blunt’s wedding to John Krasinski at George Clooney’s villa in Lake Como, Italy, he met her sister, Felicity Blunt. The pair were married in 2012 and their shared love of gastronomy resulted in the publication of the cookbook, The Tucci Table, in 2014. They also welcomed the birth of their first son, Matteo, in January, 2015.
There’s something to his precise manner and underlying sensitivity that has endeared us to his work over the course of a stellar movie career. Some of his most notable films include The Terminal, The Devil Wears Prada, Margin Call, the Lovely Bones, for which he received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, as well as the 2016 Best Picture winner Spotlight.

Your family has always had a strong association with wine, can you tell us more about that?

My father had a great wine press in his basement and he had two big old oak barrels and would make wine every year. We would drink it out of little juice glasses and he would always put the wine in a bottle that must have dated back to the 1920s and he would use it over and over again and put it on the dinner table.

You talk often about the incredible family gatherings you experienced as a child, how do you evoke those feelings as an adult?

I grew up in a culture where eating was a family event and dinner was an especially important daily event. The dinner table was a place where people could relax and talk about what’s on their mind and everyone could share all the good or interesting things that happened to them on that day... Every time I open a bottle of wine and prepare a meal, I’m often overcome by the spirit of all those extraordinary family dinners.

Your 1996 film Big Night, [about two Italian brothers (played by Tucci and Tony Shalhoub) running a restaurant which Tucci both wrote and directed] is often described by critics as the best movie ever made about food and running a restaurant, was the film inspired by your own family?

It always seemed to me that running a restaurant is kind of accidentally poetic. I don’t have a brother or anyone in my family who worked in the restaurant business, but that idea of expressing love through food has been and is an important one in my life.
My whole life was about food. My parents were incredible cooks. My grandmother, and my mother, used to make these little potato croquettes. A little potato and maybe some breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, and onion: absolutely delicious, and delicate. My mother also made paella, and to this day, it’s the best paella I’ve ever had. Amazing.

You insist that you are not a ‘wine expert’, but in 2011 you hosted the PBS show Vine Talk, [the program saw Tucci assemble a motley crew of his fellow Hollywood wine lovers to gather around a table and philosophise about wine, food, and the art of living] surely that makes you more than simply an amateur oenophile?

The series was not necessarily about expertise but more about sharing my love of wine with an audience. Just about anyone can come together, enjoy almost any type of wine, and engage in compelling conversation – and even pick up good basic wine education in the process. Like the different wine making methods and the main characteristics of wine aging.

Your family originates from Calabria, tell us about your favorite Italian wines?

I love Super Tuscans and wines from Sardinia. Generally, it’s not all about fine wines, you usually can’t go wrong with Chianti, and I enjoy California Chardonnays and French Burgundies.

You credit your grandmother, Concetta Tropiano, for your cooking skills and have preserved her legacy in your cookbooks. What are your favorite dishes?

I love to experiment with wine pairings to go along with my favorite Italian rustic dishes; like branzino sea bass roasted with thyme, garlic and rosemary, rabbit stuffed with fennel, prosciutto and salami, or uova fra diavolo (eggs poached in marinara sauce) which my father used to make every Friday night for dinner. It’s one of those grand simple dishes you can enjoy equally as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. My favorite ingredients are basic: eggs, rice and wine. Eggs are protein, rice is starch – and wine goes perfectly with both.

Do you often get a chance to cook at home?

Constantly – when I’m home. I don’t really have a chance to cook when I’m away, but when I’m home I cook every night. When I go to my parents’ house I’m able to cook with my mum, which is really great. Food brings a great sensuality to life. It’s creative, but it’s also edible. I like that.

Given that food and wine play such a big part in your life, what would be your last meal on Earth?

I’d have tagliolini with white truffles, and risotto with shrimps – a dish I had on my honeymoon. I had the risotto in Venice a very long time ago and it is definitely one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. For the main it would have to be a whole branzino, a simple sea bass dish. Also a Florentine steak with my mother’s own recipe for broad bean minestra. My grandma made a delicious minestra with potato and zucchini – so hearty and fresh. All of these are simple recipes, but they’re the essence of Italian cooking.

Did food play a part in the seduction of your wife Felicity?

I spit-roasted a twenty-six pound suckling pig for her... Unlike most guys, I like making really complicated dishes. You have a few glasses of wine. You really get into the process. You have so much fun, you just don’t want it to stop. Risotto is another great seduction dish – it takes care and attention to detail and you get the chance to show the lady that you’re good with your hands.
I didn’t expect to fall in love so soon after my wife’s death, and also not with someone so much younger (Felicity is twenty years his junior)... But after spending a few minutes with her, I asked her to have lunch with me the next day.

What do you think it is about food and wine that makes it so important to you?

Food is comfort and it’s meant to be shared with other people. You remember food and wine throughout time because of the people you were with. Before my wife died, we were skiing, and then we went out to lunch. The meal was nothing special, but it was the best bottle of wine I ever had in my life. And it was about that time, that place, and that person.

 

Words – Richard Aldhous
Photography – Cedric Angeles

h_00043982 People - Exploring Taste Magazine

h 00043982Ernest Hemingway famously hated journalists and never agreed to meet any, especially not in his Cuban home. He made an exception for me in 1953, under the insistence of Rowohlt, who had been his German publisher for thirty years. At the time, I was just a photo reporter, very young, fairly pretty and, of course, penniless, but always yearning for a chance to see the world and meet extraordinary people. I had the privilege to be welcomed in his old dilapidated Cuban house, Finca Vigía, in the village of San Francisco de Paula, twenty kilometres from Havana.

Hemingway loved the red wines from the Veneto region. Especially Amarone. At the table he drank wine only, and only Valpolicella, maybe he had come to love it during World War I, when he was stationed in Italy with the Red Cross. He would drink an entire bottle with his lunch, and before each meal he would always make himself two or three dry Martinis. He attended to this drinking schedule with a kind of diligent dedication. Hemingway was notoriously a great drinker: by afternoon he was usually completely sodden with gin.
His wife Mary Welsh, a journalist and former war correspondent for Time magazine, was in every way the perfect hostess. With the help of ten staff members she managed and organized everything impeccably. The food served in Finca Vigía was always delicious.
During my visit, Hemingway would take me to his favorite restaurant in Havana, a filthy, but divine Chinese eatery. Every day we would go out on his yacht ‘Pilar’ with Gregorio Fuentes, the boatman who had served as inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea. Before and after, he would inevitably stop at Bar Floridita for a papa doble, a fresh lime juice daiquiri, mixed with crushed ice and served with a platter of delicious barbecued crabs. Floridita’s daiquiri was phenomenal, they used sugar syrup. That was their secret.
I have been a journalist and a photo reporter, but I truly believe there is a season for every activity. The enthusiasm of those days was channelled into my work as a publisher. Photography taught me to see, and ultimately I have never stopped observing the life that surrounds me, guests, friends, fellow travellers with the same photographer’s eye. As a business woman I have been present wherever my presence was needed: at the opening of a bookshop, at a publisher’s panel, at an event with authors or at book-fairs – I have been to every Italian city. And in each city I have come to understand the grace of each and every different local drinking custom.
If I had to describe what my contribution has been in one word, I would say I have brought movement. And by ‘movement’ I mean passion and clear-sightedness. I have witnessed so many changes in society and culture, and every time I felt that it was necessary to be present wherever change paved the way for the future. And even in times like these, I am not afraid. To embrace movement you must avoid jumping to conclusions and keep all doors open. The publishing world has changed, sure. But we are still irreplaceable agents of culture. And you can still find us wherever there is a spark of imagination or a story to be researched and told. Our job is, and always will be, to stimulate, interpret and discern. By discerning, we contribute to the development of taste. Our guiding principle has to be the pursuit of excellence. And when you think of excellence you can’t help thinking about Santa Margherita and its long held habit of creating for exercised taste and, at the same time, to exercise taste. Ultimately we both work in pursuit of that kind of quality that is enriched when it enriches those who recognise it, those who make it a part of their life and their mind. A mind needs to be open every day, and every day it needs beauty and good taste. There is always a festive quality in the gesture of raising our glasses for a toast. It is a promise. I have experienced enough to known that when a promise (cultural, aesthetic, scientific) is kept, a sign manifests itself and change can come to the world. We are part of this change, this flux, and we are happy to be.

di Inge Feltrinelli

vittorio-wide People - Exploring Taste Magazine

DaVittorioVatieri W3A1242

Da Vittorio has been a Bergamo household name for over half a century. The large family owned firm turned fifty this year. Vittorio, who founded the company and gave it its name, handed the reins over to his five children ten years ago. Among them are Enrico and Roberto Cerea, the chefs that turned the restaurant into a luxury destination. With its unique mixture of tradition and innovation, class and creativity, their kitchen has been awarded three Michelin stars. The Cerea brothers build from local products and traditions, while taking inspiration from international culinary excellences. With clients coming from all over the world, Da Vittorio is a bridge between the past (always remembered with a bit of nostalgia) and the future: “We want to celebrate our 100th anniversary and beyond.”

Is it possible to distill the essence of Da Vittorio in one word? The answer is yes: family.
To be welcomed by the Cereas is to come home. The home of Enrico and Roberto, known to all as Chicco and Bobo, the brothers and chefs who won their family restaurant the third coveted Michelin star, six years ago. And the home of Francesco, the business backbone of the family enterprise. It is the home of Rossella, the front of house who watches over every detail. Of Bruna, the family matriarch, with her faithful little black poodle always in tow. Presiding over everything and everyone, is the spirit of father Vittorio, the one who, on the 6th of April 1966, opened their first business in Bergamo, in the same location where the fifth member of the clan, Barbara, now manages the historical Caffè Cavour 1880. Eleven years ago, Da Vittorio relocated to its new premises in Brusaporto, a few kilometers out of town, in an elegant residence surrounded by vineyards which is now a member of the luxury hospitality circuit Relais & Châteaux. The Cereas have defined and expanded upon their paternal legacy, without losing sight of what really matters: “The kitchen is and always will be at the center of our work. Food never ceases to inspire us, and we hope it will continue to inspire others. The food has to be a reward for those who come to our restaurant.” These are Enrico’s words, they already sound like a manifesto.

The Cerea brothers are four hands in the kitchen and one mind, you see it in how often they give similar answers, whether you are chatting to them together or separately. “Working together helps: where one of us can’t reach, the other steps in,” Chicco explains. “The only draw-back is that we are both stubborn: two typical Bergamo hardheaded lads. We both always assume to be right and there always comes a time when you have to just stop. And trust.” Bobo echoes his brother: “We grew up elbow-fighting each other in the kitchen, always competing; if one tried a new dish, the other would try to improve it. But the competition between us is healthy, maybe it is what got us here.” The only real surprise, if you can call it that, is how little time they get to spend together in the same kitchen nowadays, because of the many commitments they both have. Sunday morning, however, is still a sacred time, when everyone sits around the table to plan the upcoming week, define priorities and deadlines. Da Vittorio is a restaurant, a hotel, a café, but also a cooking school, a recently opened bistro in Bergamo’s airport, a catering service, and many other side projects that range from events such as the Vinitaly exposition to business partnerships outside of Italy. “Today, we have thirty people in the kitchen, one hundred twenty employees just in the restaurant. All together, we employ three hundred people.” Enrico’s figures mean big business, but the atmosphere here is still that of a home. “We grew up in Bergamo and we stayed here, watching the town change with time. We wanted to do something for this community and the town has repaid us in so many ways. Today, it is one of the most affluent areas in Europe, it has its own airport which attracts international visitors, it is close to Milan but immersed in tranquil countryside.” We end up talking about sustainability, and the ‘zero food-miles’ slogan that has become such a buzzword in the Italian food industry. “Our area has one of the highest concentrations of protected denominations in Italy, when I travel abroad I like to bring with me wild strawberries and ‘Sciur’, a matured goats’ cheese with berries that is typical of this area. But haute cuisine is a world that cannot afford to close in on itself, it cannot do without excellent produce from all over the world. Here at Da Vittorio everyday we get Alaskan king crabs delivered still alive. Being able to offer produce such as this is a privilege but also the duty of a great chef.” The crabs arrive on the morning we meet as well, together with crates of Mediterranean shellfish, an octopus which Enrico personally weighs and evaluates, and a ten-kilo sea bass that is simply too beautiful to pass up: “Come on! Make me a deal!” he jokes on the phone with the supplier. One of seven regular suppliers, and that’s just for the fish, he tells me later. “That’s also how menus are put together: choosing every day your raw materials, often you come across things you hadn’t even thought of ordering.”

Chicco ‘the visionary’ and Bobo ‘the stalwart’ preside over the kitchen, for them it is a kingdom, for others it can feel a bit like a labyrinth. Where the stoves for the main courses end the patisserie section begins, and then there’s the table for assembling the entrees, and the storage room where the copperware is kept, and so forth, you could get lost in here. The brothers keep their distance from the trendy gastrocracy that is transforming many of their colleagues into TV celebrities. “The televised popularity of food is a great showcase for all cooks. But as a chef you have to be in your kitchen, not on camera, it is vital: you can’t leave it to somebody else,” Enrico explains. “With experience, you cook with your sense of smell and sight, we instantly know if the guy in charge is doing well or not. It is the secret of expertise. I feel strange about having suddenly become the one who teaches others a craft, and not just someone who is still learning.” Just like they have learned from their father. “Dad got me inside the kitchen when I was eleven years old,” Roberto recalls. “I fell in love with the first courses, they are still my passion: when I have an idea for a dish, that is the shape I like to give it. The most recent creation? A risotto with smoked Giarratana onion cream, raw Mazara prawns and mandarin drops.” But the foundations of the Cerea brothers’ tastes are the foods of their childhood: “Peperonata, just like our father would make it, with any vegetables he had close at hand and a little pancetta: we would eat it with bread straight out of the pan until there was none left. And his Paccheri pasta with the three-tomato sauce: it is still one the most sought after items on our menu.” Having tasted it, It is not hard to see why.

For Enrico and Roberto cooking is a constantly-evolving research, open to unexpected combinations and in an ongoing conversation with its natural partner: wine. “It’s like, when you create a dish, there are certain rules but you have to keep yourself open to surprises. A cook’s palate has to be trained to evaluate even the most unusual flavor combinations, unexpected and wonderful things can happen that way,” Enrico explains. “When it comes to wine, nowadays, it is all about playing with contrasts and serving temperatures, it has now become admissible to cool down some reds and leave certain whites quite mellow. Lately, I like to pair the classic Milanese cutlet with a good rosé. Cooking is a subjective field, no one is ‘right’. All you can do is offer new experiences to those who are willing to embark on that journey with you.” Which brings us back to the relationship with our customers, who arrive to this home where everyone, in some way, feels welcomed in a family. “As long as it is just in the chef’s mind, a dish doesn’t exist,” Bobo reflects. “It is the diner, the one who eats it and likes it that gives it life, that brings it into the world, in a sense.”

1966-2016: Da Vittorio celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. “We have officially reached the third generation, it is not something we take for granted, it makes us feel honored, and inspired,” Roberto says with a smile. “After fifty years we can say that food is in our DNA, but I have no idea what our children will do in the future. You cannot force anyone to undertake such a demanding profession: we could not be here without a lot of effort and sacrifices, in terms of time, of relationships, and the best years of your life. It is a work that can reward you beyond measure: it is not by chance that all of us siblings have followed in our parents’ footsteps.” And here Enrico gets a little nostalgic: “My father has created all this from nothing, he felt the weight of a growing family on his shoulders. But that is the past, now we have a future ahead of us. The next challenge is to celebrate our one-hundredth anniversary and then move beyond that. Da Vittorio has come of age, and the next goal is to branch out, acquire an international presence. It is something we have been considering for a while now.” Are their sights directed to the West or to the East? “I don’t want to jinx it, I guess I’m a little superstitious that way.”

And lastly, everyone comes together for a family photo shoot, the Cereas get ready, posing on the staircase that leads to the entrance. For a moment, all of them exchange glances. Maybe it is all here, in this ability they have of understanding each other without a word, the secret ingredient that makes Vittorio great.

An Interview with Enrico and Roberto Cerea
Words – Mattia Carzaniga
Photography – Fabrizio Vatieri

 

Kerin_OKeefe People - Exploring Taste Magazine

Kerin OKeefe

Passion and knowledge. These are the keys to the success of Kerin O’Keefe, one of the world’s most influential wine critics. Born near Boston, Massachusetts, and having relocated to our country in the 1990s, Kerin has elected Italian wines as her main area of expertise. She has worked as an Italian Editor for Wine Enthusiast since 2013 and has authored important books such as Franco Biondi Santi: The Gentleman of Brunello, Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines and Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine. In the following exclusive interview, she reflects on the main turning-points in her career and discusses current trends in wine export and consumption.

When did you discover a passion for wine and oenology?

Right after college, when I met my future husband, Paolo Tenti. Paolo is Italian, from Varese, and already knew a lot about Italian wines. In 1989, we spent the summer in Tuscany and then we toured the Langhe and Valtellina. That was just the beginning, and these trips started my fascination with Italian wine. As soon as I moved over, we started spending time in wine territories all over Italy. I was blown away by the diverse number of wines made with native grapes and by the numerous local dishes. One of the reasons I started writing was because I was disappointed that my favorite Italian wines were almost never given any press in the US and UK magazines and rarely showed up even in the Italian guides. I thought consumers were really missing out, and that so many producers were being overlooked.
I’ve always been a huge fan of vibrant, terroir-driven wines made with native grapes. Today everyone’s writing and talking about elegant Italian wines made with indigenous varieties. But in 2002, I was like a lone voice in the desert because back then the majority of wine critics raved about Italian wines made with international grapes and aged in barriques while they pretty much ignored or outright attacked Italy’s traditional wines and the producers who made them.

After studying English Literature at the University of Massachusetts, you became a journalist. Can you tell us which publications you first contributed to?

My first articles appeared in 2002 in M Magazine, part of the Milano Finanza group. In the same year, I also began writing for Decanter.com and I segued over to the magazine shortly after. I was one of their lead Italian correspondents until 2013, when I started working for Wine Enthusiast, where I am solely responsible for the magazine’s Italian reviews and coverage.
In 2003, I started writing for US Wine News, while in 2004, for The World of Fine Wine and my work has appeared in many other on-line and print publications as well.

In 2004 you published your first book, dedicated to the work of legendary winemaker Franco Biondi Santi, The Brunello Gentleman. Can you tell us something about how you became interested in him?

After trying Biondi Santi’s 1981 Riserva in 2001, I decided I had to meet this winemaker. I interviewed him several times by phone before finally going to his estate, in 2002. He was extremely eloquent. That afternoon, I learned about the family, the wine, but also got a new insight into the Italian wine world.
Veronelli Editor had just started a series of books, I Semi, about influential Italian producers. I went up to Bergamo and presented my case to the great Luigi Veronelli as to why Franco Biondi Santi, thanks to his constant belief in the great potential of 100% Sangiovese, the unique growing conditions in Montalcino’s best vineyards, and the importance of not using invasive cellar techniques or harsh chemicals in the vineyards, made an ideal subject. Veronelli agreed, and I spent six months in Montalcino and wrote the book.

After this first important publication, you maintained a strong focus on Brunello and, in 2008 the Brunello producers’ consortium gave you an award for your article “Brunello de-constructed”. Can you explain this title to us?

Montalcino is an extremely complicated growing zone, despite the fact that it’s one township. So I broke it down into different zones, and explained to readers the pros and cons of each area, while always pointing out the crucial role of the winemaker as well.

And so we come to 2012, the year that saw the release of your second book: Brunello di Montalcino. Understanding and appreciating one of Italy’s greatest wines. This is one of the most important and influential books on the subject. What were your reasons for writing it?

It always struck me that while there are dozens of books on all the great wines of France, books on Italian wines almost always cover the entire country or large parts of the country. I wanted to give the greatest Italian wines the respect their French counterparts have been awarded for years, by dedicating an entire book to a single denomination and delving deep into the history, the growing area, the grape and the people behind the wines. From the outset I wanted to write books on Brunello, Barolo and Barbaresco – the three greatest denominations in Italy. I had a lot of material already on Brunello, and started there.

Kerin OKeefe 9

After that, as you mentioned, came the book Barolo and Barbaresco – The King and Queen of Italian Wine. Can you tell us more about your findings?

My biggest find was helping to break the myth on who created Barolo as we know it today: a dry red wine as opposed to its original sweet version. The universal myth is that a Frenchman, Louis Oudart, a friend of the French-born Juliette Colbert de Maulévrier – known in Italy as Giulia Falletti, the Marchesa di Barolo – swooped in from France and taught the Langhe producers how to make wine. I never bought it.
A few producers I interviewed mentioned the name of an Italian general, Paolo Francesco Staglieno, as being a pioneer in early Barolo production. I hunted down his most famous work, a manual on wine making that was strikingly advanced for the times. It clearly showed that Staglieno was obsessed with vinifying Barolo perfectly dry. This led me to writings by a Piedmont historian, Giusi Mainardi, whose research clearly points to Staglieno as vinifying Nebbiolo dry before Oudart set foot in Piedmont. I also pored over historical documents, including Le lettere del fattore di Cavour and it all pointed to Staglieno as being the father of Modern Day Barolo. I then discovered a little-known but informative book, Louis Oudart e I vini nobili del Piemonte, by Anna Riccardi Candiani, published by Slow Food Editore in 2011, which shows no connection between Oudart and the Marchesa di Barolo or the advent of dry Barolo. This helped me confirm my conclusions that General Paolo Francesco Staglieno is the real father of Barolo as we know it today.

What are you working on right now? Is there a new book in the pipeline?

Between 2004 and 2014 I wrote four books (including the English version of Franco Biondi Santi – The Gentleman of Brunello) so at the moment, I’m focusing on my work as Italian Editor at Wine Enthusiast, one of the most gratifying positions I’ve ever held, and a full-time job to say the least.

Your work gives you a unique understanding of current trends in Italian wine appreciation. What are these, in your opinion?

Organic and natural farming methods of viticulture are now huge in Italy, and for good reason. Not only did the harsh chemicals used between the 1950s and 1980s sterilize the soil, but these days consumers are very aware, and very wary, of harsh chemicals. More and more wine drinkers are looking for wines that are made without industrial chemicals. More wine lovers are also looking for wines with elegance and balance as opposed to muscle and concentration.

And what about the American market? What are buyers looking for these days?

American wine drinkers are looking for wines that offer a sense of place, and many of the younger wine drinkers – think the Millennials – are looking for unique wines that are very different than their parents’ Chardonnays and Merlots. It’s a great opportunity for Italy’s wines made with native grapes, wines that can’t be recreated around the globe.

It is often remarked, however, that when it comes to wine exports, Italian producers struggle to put forward a cohesive strategy. To what extent are buyers influenced by communication strategies?

That's true, it's rare to find a unified effort when it comes to marketing Italian wines. I do think buyers are influenced by marketing strategies, but besides promotions and marketing, stories behind the wine are extremely important. However, wine drinkers who read about wine are looking for honesty from the writer, and are wary about conflicts of interest. They also want wine represented in an entertaining but informative style, and detest snobbery. Readers also appreciate articles written by specialists: I think the days of a single wine writer writing about all the wines in the world – and claiming to be a specialist in everything from Bordeaux to Chile, from Argentina to Italy, and all the wines in between – are largely over.

Lets talk a little about Santa Margherita. Which do you think are the company’s strengths?

Santa Margherita is synonymous with Pinot Grigio. Not only did Santa Margherita put Pinot Grigio on the map when they launched in the US in 1979 – paving the way for what would become an international phenomenon – but they focused on the Made-in-Italy quality connotation, and turned Italian wine into a luxury product.

In recent years, “foodie” and wine culture have gone truly mainstream. How do you view this phenomenon?

After years of drinking wine like a cocktail – before or after the meal but not at the table – Americans are now pairing wine and food. The popularity of Italian restaurants and Italian cuisine has had a huge role in this. And of all the world’s wines, Italian wines are absolutely the best to pair with food thanks to their naturally fresh acidity and flexibility.

Finally, what are your personal tastes? What is your favorite food & wine pairing?

Pizzoccheri and Valtellina Sassella, Sauvignon Bianco and pesto, and Dosaggio Zero Metodo Classico with pizza.

 

An interview with Kerin O’Keefe
Words – Jessica Bordoni
Photography – Paolo Tenti

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