Alessandro Cellai, "Rock Star Winemaker"
What a delightful guy! Alessandro Cellai (https://wineinsicily.com/en/
First, let me say that I hope Alessandro is not shining me on! He is mighty charming and could do some shining with ease but he seems like a real and nice guy. And I could see he was visibly taken aback when I gave him my business card. He says his mother's name is the same as mine, Trippi. She was from the Tuscan village of Civitella Della Chiana in Arezzo. "It is not a common name and I have only heard it around the Florence area." How cool is that?
Are we cousins, I ask with great hope? Alessandro says, "Probably, up the line somewhere." That works! A world class winemaker for a cousin, even if it is several generations back in the old country and a little light on connectivity, is good enough for me. Alessandro says he will send me something that his mother signed. WOW! I am all over town today telling everyone about my cousin. But enough about my excellent adventure. Back to Alessandro...
So the "Rock Star Winemaker" Alessandro Cellai sandwiched a quick visit to MetroWines between two other engagements in Asheville. Add a very curious crowd @MetroWines meaning I had limited time to question our guest so I dived right in to the less than technical stuff. We already know his wines have balance, structure and a berry taste and are highly reviewed. Yada. Yada. Move on...
I was determined to make sure that I got to the bottom of this "Rock Star" designation. What's that all about? Turns out Alessandro was chosen by Decanter Magazine as the Best Winemaker Under 40 in the World! The WORLD I say. Read: "Rock Star." Yeah, that's my cousin!
But do you believe it? The RockStar thing, I ask? Alessandro hesitates a bit. Ok, I say, put another way then, can you name a better winemaker? "No." He believes it. And well he should. After tasting the wine, I know I do!
Alessandro says he entered the wine world through his uncle. A Catholic priest at a church in Tuscany, Alessandro's uncle made the sacramental wine with Sangiovese grapes he planted and farmed on the church property. A not so little divine intervention! And from there, the wine gene took over.
Alessandro has two children. His son, Lorenzo is 18 and studying economics. His daughter, Barbara is 16 and, Alessandro hopes, his winemaking successor. Barbara is already studying viticulture and is hands on at the winery.
Do women in wine have a tough time in Italy? Do you have any concerns about your daughter pursuing a career in winemaking? Alessandro says "No." He does not see discrimination against women in the wine industry. "Women have always been winemakers in Italy." About this time, I am wondering why I am not in Tuscany! I have the Mary Tyler Moore boxed set of 7 seasons. I can go anywhere now.
Now the important stuff. Favorite actor? "Bruce Willis." So I guess "Die hard" is your favorite movie? Alessandro says, without a hint of equivocation, "Si. All of them."
Actress? "Julia Roberts." Movie? "All of them. Any of them. I like Pretty Woman but, really, all of them." It is clear that Alessandro really, really, really likes Julia Roberts!
And if you are kicking back to watch a Julia Roberts movie, what wine in today's lineup that included Grillo, Frappato, Nero d'Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, and his most awesome dessert wine, do you pour. "Nero d'Avola." That might have been my favorite too.
Vineyard Dog? "Si, due cani." Alessandro has two Black Labs named Tom and Jerry.
Finally, what music did he want us to play for the tasting? "I like music from the 60s and 70s but if I have to pick just one, The Beatles."
I write this through the haze of wondering why I am not in Firenze. My cousin is a rock star winemaker! And a real nice guy.