Analog Wines For the Digital Age

Friday, February 17, 2012

Drink of the Week Profile - Part 1

skyler-brown  Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Justin Gallen, an Italian importer and one of his producers, Francesco Cirelli, a winemaker from the eastern Italian region of Abruzzo. In the first part of this interview series, Gallen discusses his passion for wine and the qualities it must possess before he brings it to the United States.

Drink of the Week (DOTW): You’re a sommelier and Italian importer of fine wines. How did this all come about and have you always had a passion for wine?
Justin Gallen (JG): I’ve been in the wine business for about 20 years. I was the kid who wasn’t interested in getting beer. I always wanted a gallon of Burgundy or Bartles & Jaymes or wine coolers or whatever else it happened to be. I’ve always been fascinated by wine.

DOTW: How do you find your producers?
JG:  I’lI go to the organic and biodynamic fairs that take place in Italy a couple times a year and meet the producer and taste their wine. I met Francesco by chance. He was given a list of importers and sent out a blind email with his contact information and website. The website looked professional and the wines looked good. When we met, I tasted the wines, looked at the package, and said “yes,” right away.

DOTW: What do you look for in a wine?
JG: The wine has to be very, very good and at a really good price point. I’m looking for wines that are food-friendly. Wines that have a little less alcohol and a little more acidity, so that it pairs well with a different range of food and won’t overwhelm. I’m also looking for wines that will age well, because it’s important to drink wine at many different times of its life. In its youth, when it’s got a lot of fruit and it’s beautiful and exciting and vibrant, and then at its middle-age, when it’s gained a little bit of sophistication and it’s turned into something a little bit more interesting, and of course, in its older age, when it’s gained a sort of delicacy and wisdom for a wine that you won’t find in a wine that’s youthful.

DOTW: You chose the word renascimento for the name of your business. Why?
JG: Renascimento means renaissance in Italian. It represents the rebirth and revival of the types of wines I would like to find in the market. Hopefully the wines that I’m importing are providing a rebirth or revival or renascimento for the people who taste them, so they discover a new world of wine that they never knew they had.

Visit Rinascimento Wine Company.
Visit Cirelli to learn more about their wine and other products.

Drink of the Week Profile Part 2

skyler-brown     Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Justin Gallen, an Italian importer and one of his producers, Francesco Cirelli, a winemaker from the eastern Italian region of Abruzzo. This week Cirelli emphasizes the importance of organic and biodiversity farming, a concept he puts into practice back home in Italy.

Drink of the Week (DOTW): What types of wine does Cirelli produce?
Francesco Cirelli (FC): First of all, we are respectful of the sense of place. They have to be wines that are showing the characteristics of the place where the wines are being produced. Second, they have to be as natural as possible meaning that, yes, we are certified organic.

DOTW: Where does your wine come from?
FC: We acquired an estate in 2003 in Abruzzo. It’s an eastern Italian region of Italy on the same latitude as Rome. Whereas Rome is on the west, we are on the east. We don’t have any background in agriculture, but we really wanted to experience something new. We really wanted to change our life and try to focus on different values. Since the beginning, we wanted to have a full farm concept and organic, so we decided to plant the new vineyards, but at the same time we planted the fig trees, we planted garlic, we planted olive trees. This is extremely important if you want to be a real, organic farm. It’s rather better to have different cultivations instead of being a monocultural kind of farm. We also started breeding geese. Now, we have 300 geese going around the farm naturally feeding the soil and controlling the weeds.

DOTW: What are some of your other products?
FC: We produce wines, extra-virgin organic olive oils, fig marmalades, fresh garlic. We also produce hams and salamis from the goose meat and a very nice marmalade from the Montepulciano grapes. We have about ten different products.

DOTW: Can you talk a little bit about the winemaking process?
FC: It really depends on the style of wine. Now we are producing two different styles. The first is a little bit more of a daily wine. A little bit easier, great drinkability and low in acidity. Those wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks. The second style is a little bit more, I would say, philosophical or a little more complicated. We decided to use a very old container for fermentations which is clay. They are 800-liter clay vessels. Two different winemaking processes, two different styles.

DOTW: Can you choose a favorite?
FC: The favorite is the amphora-fermented wines. They are the more artisanal containers. Those are the containers where you are obliged to intervene manually and you can use nothing except for your body. If you have to clean, you have to go inside with your swimming suit and clean the vessel. You cannot use anything else. This makes for a more emotional process. It’s the one that requires more effort. It’s you and the clay vessel, that is all.

DOTW: Mr. Gallen, on your website you’ve said something very beautiful, “Every time I open a bottle, I want to be taken on an adventure of the mind. I want to be transported to another place and another time… another world.” Where does Cirelli’s wine take you?
JG: The reason why people are fascinated by wine is that it does transport you. When you taste the Montepulciano, the Cerasuolo, the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, you can feel yourself being taken to the Italian countryside. You smell the flowers, you smell the herbs in the soil, you smell the flavors that are coming from the grapes and you can feel the sun on the grapes and the sun that, then, is on your shoulders as you are transported into that environment. It truly is the one alcoholic beverage that provides you with a sense of place and a sense of history and a sense of being in the moment… and Francesco’s wines definitely do that.

Visit Rinascimento Wine Company.
Visit Cirelli to learn more about their wine and other products.

Using Barolo Chinato from G.D. Vajra for this Negroni recipe . . . nice . . .

La Prima Recipe - Imbibe Magazine

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wine Dinner with Giuseppe Vaira of G.D. Vajra next week . . .

Wine Dinner with Giuseppe Vaira of G.D. Vajra and Luigi Baudana
Wineries, Barolo
Wednesday, February 8th 7pm
@ 3 Square Café, Venice

White Bean Crostini & Parmigiano
N.S.Delle Neve” Sparkling Langhe

Taleggio & Pear Risotto
2010 Chardonnay Luigi Baudana, Langhe

Wild Boar Stew with Mushrooms over Polenta
2009 Barbera Vajra & 2009 Nebbiolo Langhe Vajra

Cheese selection from Piemonte
2006 Barolo Albe Vajra

69.50 per person + tax and tip

Limitied seating , please call for reservation # 310 399 6504

Lunch with Francesca Vaira at Terroni DTLA . . . best lunch ever!

Francesca Vaira  2010 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library  2006 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library 2014 Luigi Ba...