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Ray Signorello

* THIS JUST IN: NEW REVIEWS FROM ROBERT PARKER on SIGNORELLO WINES *

95+

2013 Signorello Estate Padrone

The 2013 Proprietary Red Padrone, the winery’s flagship wine, is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc

aged 21 months in 100% new French oak prior to being bottle unfiltered.

This wine exhibits an inky purple color, notes of graphite, blueberry, blackberry, a hint of cocoa and a dense, full-bodied superrich mouthfeel with good acidity and strong, but well-integrated tannin.

Give this wine 6-7 years and drink over the following 35-40.

- Robert M. Parker, Jr. (October, 2016)

 

98

2015 Signorello Estate Chardonnay Hope's Cuvee Napa Valley

The best Chardonnay I have ever tasted from Ray Signorello has to be the 2015 Chardonnay Hope’s Cuvée.

With its tiny yields, old vines and unfiltered style of keeping the wine nine months in barrel (of which half is new French oak and the rest used),this wine is absolutely spectacular.

The wine has a Montrachet-like richness with profound concentration from the tiny yields, loads of caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, white peach, melons and a touch of brioche.

It is full-bodied, but great acid, purity and length make for an incredible wine from this old vineyard’s clay and loamy soils.

Drink over the next 10-12 years as this has every indication of being long-lived.

- Robert M. Parker, Jr. (October, 2016)

 

95

2015 Signorello Estate Seta (Semillon /Sauvignon Blanc)

He makes one of the more intriguing and fascinating proprietary white blends, the 2015 Proprietary White Seta, which is 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon aged nine months in two-thirds

French oak and bottled unfiltered (somewhat of a trick, since there is no malolactic).

This is a serious Haut-Brion Blanc-like wine with notes of lanolin, sealing wax, caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, a touch of tangerine and exotic fruits.

The wine is medium-bodied and concentrated, with great acidity and freshness. The sad thing is, less than 100 cases were produced.

- Robert M. Parker, Jr. (October, 2016)

 

NOW BACK TO REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING:

Big. Bold. Bella. This will become clear as you read on. Ray Signorello says, "my passion is wine." I know what you're thinking. Yada Yada. What winemaker doesn't say that? But there is a difference in the intensity here. This guy means really, really means it. And there is no better proof than Signorello Wines. "I am always in the pursuit of excellence," Ray says, "but perfection is elusive."
 
    But if the judgment of Robert Parker is the quantifiable definition of excelllence, Ray Signorello is pretty darn close.  The 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon received 94 Points and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Padrone brought in 97+ points.
 
   According to the website, which BTW, is one of if not THE best winery website I have ever seen.... (And this just IN: the website is being updated. Same address, new stuff HERE)! "Signorello Estate is a one-of-a-kind reflection of a wholly unique Napa Valley hillside vineyard and terroir. Planted and cultivated by the Signorello Family since 1977, these grapes are the foundation of their richly structured, intensely flavored Estate wines. Ray Signorello, Jr. has left no stone unturned, no philosophy unexplored, no ancient or modern viticulture and winemaking idea untried in his decades-long quest to produce the perfect Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for his customers."
   Ray Signorello hosted a Burger Lunch at Red Stag in Asheville today for some of his customers. He shared what was very, very obviously his passion for wine. In the beginning, Ray was working toward a career on Wall Street. He started making wine as a hobby and 28 years later, he has carved a real niche in the Napa Valley Cabernet Market. Located on The Silverado Trail, Signorello is in good company with wineries including Shafer and Stag's Leap.
   The philosophy is simple Ray says, "we keep our hands off the process as much as we can." That said, the wines are unfined and unfiltered. While Signorello Wines do a table proud now, they are built to last. Made with all French Oak, and only French Oak!!, the focus is, Ray says,"on collectors." The Reds can go over 20 years in the bottle. Even the Chardonnay can do 10!
   Competition is tough in the wine business but Ray stays the course. "We do not pander with over oaked-under fruited wines," he says. "And I would not bottle a wine that I would not drink myself."
   So, yes, these barrel fermented wines are as you might expect from Napa Valley "big" and "bold" but here's the "bella." Instead of being a big, bold, brash, perhaps even sloppy, just big for the sake of being BIG, smothering food in a wash of fruit flavored motor oil (sorry, I might have gone a little too far there), Signorello wines are partners. "Our wines are geared for food," says Ray. "The style is more Euro with good acidity and structure.
 
    As it is not all that common to hear a California winemaker emphasize food compaibility. So I ask Ray why? "Might be my Italian heritage that dictates the food and wine interplay."  Oh yeah. What do you drink, Ray, when not opening a bottle of your own? What is a good pairing? "White truffles and Barolo, maybe a little tagliatelle." Rays says without hesitation.
   Ray was also inspired by his visits to Old World wine estates. He insists that his visitors to his winery experience his wines with their "natural companions: food." But at Signorello Estate, it's not just talk. The winery has an on-site chef. Equipped with a full-sized professional kitchen stocked with gourmet meats, artisan cheeses and vegetables fresh from estate gardens, the Estate Chef creates dishes harmonized to bring out the subtle nuances in Signorello wines.
 

   The Signorello Estate Chef will guide you through a five course pairing experience explaining the pairing philosophy and describing each creation. This is a wine and food experience unlike any other in the Napa Valley.  Want to go? In my head, I am already gone. "The Enoteca Signorello" is a 2 hour adventure on Thursday through Monday, March through November starting at noon for $175 per person. 

   Back to reality! Ray Signorello stopped by the shop last night and hosted a tasting of his wines. I had a chance to ask a few more questions while Ray graciously juggled a crowd of abot 30 wine fans. He appears in personas you see him in his stock photo, that is, sophisticated, sport jacket, Italian leather shoes, nice haircut.

   So it came as quite a surprise when I asked Ray his favorite movie and he said "Gladiator" so fast my head was spinning. I don't know why I was not expecting that answer. But I just wasn't. Not that anyone can't respect even love "Gladiator" but I just wasn't expecting it. Ray loves the view into Roman life and remains partial to all things Roman.  But would Ray ever grow Italian grapes in California? Maybe a Sangiovese? I say other California winemakers do. "No," Rays says as quickly as he let loose on "Gladiator!" Ray thoroughly and professorially explained, with a lot of complicated wine terms but, basically, California is for Cab!

What Ray poured:

FUSE: Ray chose to the name to emphasize the fusion of varietals. This blend of 86% Cabernet, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petite Verdot received 90-92 Points from Robert Parker in Wine Advocate. Parker said: "This wine was still in barrel and shows loads of espresso roast, blackcurrants, and hints of white chocolate and spicebox in an elegant, yet authoritative, medium to full-bodied style." 

And addressing the harvest, Parker said: "2013 may turn out to be the finest vintage I have experienced in tasting North Coast varietals over the last 37 years. it's a game changer in terms of the consistency of quality, the depth of quality, and the across-the-board excellence for so many wines."

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

“The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a beauty. Inky purple-colored, with notes of charcoal, graphite, blackcurrants and blueberries, the wine is dense, opulent, full-bodied, fresh and full. It should drink well for up to 20 more years.” 94+ Points Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, October 2015 

WINEMAKING NOTES: Traditional French winemaking practices: native yeast fermentations, extended maceration (each lot averaged 25 days on the grape skins) and pump-overs twice a day. The 2013 vintage aged for 22 months in 64% new oak from Troncais, Nevers and Alliers, coopered into thin-staved, medium-plus toast Chateau Ferre barrels by coopers Tarransaud, Saury, Darnajou and Nadalie. To preserve fruit intensity and body, the wine was not filtered prior to bottling

And 2012 PADRONE

“This is a fabulous wine, meant to evolve over three decades. It offers up notes of charcoal, scorched earth, blackcurrant, blackberry, chocolate and a touch of espresso. A wine of great intensity, full-bodied opulence and a multilayered mouthfeel, this is a formidably endowed, serious Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated wine from vineyards with some of the best fruit on the estate. Drink it over the next 30 years.” 97+ Points Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, Oct. 2015

WINEMAKING NOTES: Traditional French winemaking practices: native yeast fermentations, extended maceration (each lot averaged 25 days on the grape skins) and pump-overs twice a day. The 2012 vintage aged for 22 months in 100% new oak from Troncais, Nevers and Alliers, coopered into thin-staved, medium-plus toast Chateau Ferre barrels by coopers Tarransaud, Saury, Darnajou and Nadalie. To preserve fruit intensity and body, the wine was not filtered prior to bottling on September 5, 2014.

And finally, you're thinking that I forgot to ask about the winery dog. Au contraire!  Ray does not have a a dog of his own because he travels so often. BUT, there is a winery dog. And a mighty happy one with a vineyard full of friends!

 

 

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Quincy Steele

I told Quincy that the purpose of these interviews is to get to know the winemaker personally. The truth is that we can read about their wines on their well done websites. And, let's face it, with winemakers also working to market their wines and answering questions from retailers and writers like me! they may have necessarily developed some standard operating answers.
 
So let's get right to the point. "Quincy, do you have a dog?"
 "I do," he says. "A Border Collie Collie, Oona. She spends every day with me chasing rabbits at the winery." Sounds like a great day to me I say! "Yeah, she loves it. Oona came from a farm so she is in her element."
 
Quincy is the son of legendary winemaker and winery owner, Jed Steele. "I was always around wine." Quincy remembers how the Steele Dynasty started. "My father would drive around with his wines in the back of a truck and not return home until all the wines were sold!"
 
Quincy seems to have the heart of a poet. Before he turned full on to winemaking, he was studying history and english with intentions to teach. But then he says "the wine bug bit me."
 
Quincy is Assistant Winemaker for Steele and now has his own labels: Shooting Star, Writer's Block and Calvino Jones. "As winemakers, we look for good vineyards, the best sources, concentration of fruit." Quincy says of the core work.  "Because winemaking is basically farming."
 
Quincy poured his shooting Star Zinfandel, Writer's Block Petite Sirah, Calvino Jones Mountain Wine Elaboration and Steele Aligote to a crowd of about 30 @MetroWines. The Aligote was a break out star!
 
Aligote under the Steele label, from a vineyard in Sunnyside, Washington is a Steele specialty. "There are only about 5 acres of Aligote in the United Staes," Quincy says. "Steele is the only or one of the only wineries making wine from Aligote."
 
Quincy is particularly proud of his Shooting Star Zinfandel. "Many Italian winemaking families settled in Mendicino so many of the vines are 50 years old." Made from these sturdy vines, Quincy says "Shooting Star Zinfandel is a great value for the high quality."
 
But Quincy keeps his poetic heart in the wine. Take a look at the back of a bottle of Writer's Block.  A different writer waxes poetic on the back of the label for each varietal changing with each vintage.
 
"From dryland to highland and flats and mountains...deep roots put down, tapping ideas as well as terroir. Always as much an unapproachable lady, fortunately secretive and seductively shady. a fictitious myth this zinfandel of mine." Colin Davis
 
"Bear with me. Normally words trip off my tongue like hundreds of curbside drunks trying to hail the same taxicab," so says the back of the bottle of Counoise. "The bottle temptress is green, smoky green of lichens and cool thickets where lovers escape from parched Augusts and prying eyes," the writer says of Syrah.
 
The wines under the label Calvino Jones are Quincy's work inside and out. Calvino Jones Mountain Wine Elaboration is a blend of grapes from 15 different vineyards. Quincy made the wine with another winemaker and designed the label. "I wanted a fun label but also one that reflects the wine," he says. "Most labels have nothing to do with what's in the bottle!"
 
Writer's Black Wines are food friendly and versatile. Never over the top or too big as, let's tell it like it is, some California wines can be.
 
But back to the business of wine. Quincy has worked in vineyards and wineries in all around California, Australia, Argentina and Burgundy, many trips to Burgundy, back and forth to Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgund!
 
All of this experience, travel and forward thinking have brought Quincy to a new endeavor:  Working with several other winemakers on a project addressing the inherent "energy" in the winemaking process. The research focuses on whether to ever "intervene in the process" and, if you do, when, how and why. Quincy would always prefer to "do the hard work at harvest" and then "let it flow."
 
So Quincy makes great wine. But who is he? I ask few questions to try to find out!
 
Favorite movie? Quincy says movies that show the search for "who you are" but in "a light way."
 
Song? Quincy answers this one quickly: "Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello."
 
Desert Island Wine? "Pinot Noir. It goes with the kind of fruit and vegetation you might find on most islands." Which one, I ask. Quincy is pretty specific about his one and only one wine question! "A single vineyard Burgundian style."
 
If you are not serving Steele wines, what will we find on your dinner table? "Burgundy. I go back and forth there quite a bit."
 
Going out now on a big and bold and plainly apparent limb, I ask Quincy if his wines French influenced? "Definitely." No surprise there!
 
I ask Quincy what he wants people to know about his wine. "It's about the land."
So says the poet winemaker.

 

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Kent Rosenblum

"Don't give up your day job." That's how Kent Rosenblum, veterinarian, explained his venture into the wine world. 
 
While working as a veterinarian in Montana, Kent took a trip to California and was bitten by the wine bug or, as he says, "I fell in love." He started buying grapes and making wines, for the most part, in his basement. 
 
It was a big deal in 1978 when Kent turned out 400 cases. He sold his wines to family and friends. Lots of them. But as is turns out, it was actually All of them. "The wine made a profit so I thought I would make more," Kent says, "but I ran out of friends!"
 
One step forward, as they say, and two steps back. But Kent kept at it and won a gold medal in 1979 at a California fair. "Of course, you must remember" Kent says humbly, "there were only 130 winemakers at the time in California!"
 
I asked Kent if there was a "special bottle" in his life. "Yes," he says. "One that changed my life." 
 
Until 1987, Kent was still working as a veterinarian seeing small exotics, birds and reptiles as clients. When he could, Kent had been experimenting with refining techniques, that would later become legend! including "cold soaking grapes before fermentation."
 
That same year, a small winery in Emeryville, California calls Kent saying they heard he was the "Zin Guy" and they needed help. The fermentation process had come to a STOP.  
 
Kent goes to the rescue. He found the wine to be "still sweet." Realizing this would take some work to resolve and wine remedies outside the walls of this winery, Kent offers $2 per gallon. Kent's new passion was costly and even at that rock bottom price of $2 per, Kent says "I needed a loan to make it happen!"
 
But the stars were aligned and Kent worked his "Zin Guy" magic. To kickstart the fermentation process, Kent needed to heat the wine so that the yeast in the grape juice would get active. He did. The yeast did. It worked. Kent also pumped in another Zin of his making and the blend "took off," Kent says "the wine turned dry." 
 
The $2 per purchase resulted in Kent having a LOT of wine in his basement which was, at the time, his winery. He decides to send a few bottles, one might speculate just to have a few less bottles in the basement!, to the San Francisco Wine Competition. 
 
You guessed it. Kent wins. Within a day, he has 300 orders for his wines. But Kent didn't even have a label for his winning wine. "One day I was a veterinarian managing my office," Kent says, "and the next day I was a winemaker. This was the defining moment."  
 
Within a year, Kent went from $75,000 to $750,000 in sales and became known for his expertise in making wine. He was popularly promoted from "The Zin Guy" to "The King of Zin," a title he retains!
 
 
These days, Kent's daughter, Shauna, is the winemaker. The winery called Rock Wall, homed in an old hanger next to a bird sanctuary in Alameda, California has become a California wine landmark. "Rock Wall is the original urban winery," Kent says.
 

While his veterinary days are in the past, animals are still front and center. Take a look at the Rock Wall Rock Hound label. That guy playing the guitar sporting the Ray Charles Sunglasses is Sunny, Shauna's blind pitbull.

 
Everything turned out great, actually beyond great, for Kent Rosenblum leaving his profession and turning winemaker. But, bottom line, winemaking is a tough business. And as Kent says: "Don't quit your day job."
 
About Rock Wall Winery:
 

About Us

The etymology of our name: Rock Wall Wine Company is located on the former Alameda Naval Air Base which was decommissioned in 1997 and turned over to the community and is slowly being converted to civilian use. The name Rock Wall refers to the defensive perimeter wall built during WWII in the San Francisco Bay to protect the base from Japanese air to sea torpedoes. All military installations on the west coast created similar protective barriers. This wall is visible from our facility as well as elsewhere on the base. The wall has also been a popular fishing location for local anglers looking for striped bass.


The Rock Wall Wine Company represents a new chapter in the East Bay winemaking scene. The winery offers wine lovers one of the most unique experiences in the wine world.  Shauna Rosenblum is the winemaker for Rock Wall Wine Company. She learned everything she knows about winemaking from her father Kent Rosenblum who is CEO.

The Rock Wall Wine Company is founded on the philosophy of the right grape in the right place and are the result of many long-term relationships with acclaimed vineyards. Grapes are sourced from all over California which creates a diverse winemaking environment, complete with different grape varieties, styles and regional flavor profiles.

Ideally situated in Alameda, California, the winery boasts spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, and more importantly its locale allows the winemaking team to be regionally centralized - ensuring that whether Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, Zinfandel from Sonoma County, Petite Sirah from Contra Costa County or Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands, the winemaking team is able to handle the fruit soon after it is picked.

Housed in a converted 40,000 square-foot airplane hangar the winery is located on what was once a Naval Air Base. Also known as Building 24, the hangar is due north of a defensive rock wall which made up the perimeter of the base. Taking their name from this protective wall, the Rock Wall winery building has been retrofitted with state-of-the-art winemaking equipment.

A unique concept, Rock Wall Wine Company is, in essence, an urban winery that services the East Bay. Through the wine center, the Rock Wall owners look forward to continuing the legacy of urban winemaking as well as providing an environment whereby making, tasting and learning about wine is fun!

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Poderi Parpinello. Sardegna!

"Paolo, will you live to be 100?"
"Probably not. I have stress!"
That's what Paolo Parpinello, Winemaker for Poderi Parpinello in Sardegna, said when asked about the recent outcry that Cannonau, a grape indigenous to Sardegna and the star of one of his most popular wines, is, in essence, the fountain of youth!
 
I ask Paolo how did this fountain of youth stuff get started? "On the Today Show," says Paolo in a way that lets me know he has been asked this question many times. 
Apparently, a writer named Dan Buettner opined in his book "The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and living Like the World's Healthiest People, that, with regard to people around the world who live the longest, the Cannonau grape may be contributing to their longevity. Sardinians drink three to four small (3-ounce) glasses of wine a day on average, spread out between breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late afternoon social hour in the village. "One might argue, Buettner says, "that the all-day small doses of this antioxidant-rich beverage could explain fewer heart attacks." 
 
The Cannonau grape made wine is "one of the reasons," Paolo says, for the long lives in Sardegna "but not the only reason."  According to Paolo, bottom line, "It's the lifestyle." 
All red wines have the same antioxidant proprieties. There was a time when all we talked about was the French Paradox. The French eat all those all those heavy sauces and creamy cheeses and steak frites and Napoleons and yet they live longer than us. The thinking was that the red wine was the lifeline. But the residents of Sardegna are living even longer! "Some live to 115!" Paolo says.
So why is Sardegna different? "It's the food, the pollution free atmosphere," Paolo says. "There are no nuclear plants, no dangerous electromagnetic fields, no big power towers." I think he is saying, in essence, a lot less cell phones.
And it's the way people view work. "The shepherds take their time. They eat cheese at lunch." Paolo explains. "Two glasses of wine for lunch and two for dinner!"
But don't go thinking we are talking about one or two shepherds here. Shepherds represent a substantial percentage of the population in Sardegna. There are a LOT of shepherds because there are a LOT of sheep! "More sheep per capita than New Zealand," Paolo tells us. "Two sheep for every person!"  A LOT of sheep means a LOT of good Pecorino Cheese.
 
I ask Paolo what's this Cannonau grape all about? "The grape is indigenous to Sardegna," Paolo says. In the glass, Cannonau is deep red in color with red fruit and spice on the nose. Made Parpinello style, the wine is dry and elegantly full bodied. "I made this wine in more of a modern style, more popular," Paolo says.
And if I may interject here and it is worth the double negative, in my experience in the store, you just cannot NOT like Cannonau! The varietal is great with red meat, game and cheese, especially Pecorino! but can handle some seafood as well.
 
Paolo shows me where Sardegna is on the map. It's out there a bit and closer to Spain than I recalled from my dismal and relatively uninformative geography class in 4th grade.
 

"Sardegna was settled by Catalans 600 years ago. Some of the street signs in Alghero are written in Catalan and the Catalan dialect is still spoken in some parts" Paolo says. 

And a little Spanish crept over into Poderi Parpinello. "My Vermentino is called Ala Blanca," says Paolo. "The word for white in Italian is Bianca."

Who knew? Clearly, Sardegna is A most interesting place in the world. Much like Sicily, EVERYONE was there from the get go. Fast forward to the 15th century.

History tells us that in 1469, the heir to Sardinia, Ferdinand II of Aragon, married Isabel of Castile, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, now separated from Corsica, was set to be inherited by their Habsburg grandson, Charles I of Spain. In order to defend their Mediterranean territories from raids of those confounded Barbary Pirates, the successors of Charles I fortified the Sardinian shores with a system of coastal lookout towers leading to development, such as it was in 1469, along the coast.

The Kingdom of Sardinia remained Spanish for approximately 400 years, from 1323 to 1708.  Spanish traditions, customs and culture were absorbed, and to this day, as Parpinello told us, Catalan is spoken in the western city of Alghero.

OK. Back to regularly scheduled programming.......
The Paparnello Family moved to Sardegna from The Venetto in 1964. "My father and his father were winemakers," says Paolo. "Always." And his father was "always" in the field tending his vineyards. "My mother would say that my husband has only a relationship with the vineyards," says Paolo, "he is there from sunrise to sunset."
Parpinello Wines are sold across the US with some of the biggest outlets being on the west coast in California, Washington, Oregon and in Chicago.
Here you can find Parpinello Wines on the menu at Chiesa in Montford. And that is where Parpinello joined us for dinner after the "on the house" tasting @MetroWines.
 

 
Chiesa rolled out the red carpet for his visit welcoming Paolo on their way cool, daily updated blackboard and on the menu! Paolo took pictures of everything and his FB page is looking all Asheville right now!
Check it out  HERE.
 
The entire Parpinello Family is involved in wine. Paolo's sister, with a degree in Agronomy and Oenology is a professor and her husband is a consultant who has worked with UC Davis, but Paolo is the winemaker and international representative for Parpinello. That's lot of work. Paolo has stress! 
When Paolo takes a break, he likes to go to Portugal.
 
You should take a break. If you have not tried Parpinello Wines, do yourself a favor, go over to Chiesa and go Sardegna!
About Poderi Parpinello HERE.
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Buglioni: The Accidental Winery

The Accidental Winery
 
"What do we do now?" That's what the Buglioni Family said in 1993 when they looked out the window of their new house and saw a 12 acre vineyard full of grapes a month from harvest.
 
The Buglioni Family was in textiles. All they intended to do was buy a house the family could share. They had not planned on a vineyard, a harvest or being winemakers.
 
But here it was. Acres of grapes. So they sat down and set a plan.
 
"We went to the best wineries in Valpolicella asking if they wanted our grapes," says Mariano. "We were not asking to sell the grapes. We just did not want to throw them away."
 
When the winery saw the quality of the grapes, they were very interested in the crop.  OK. Sure. But, now what? Mariano tells us that he asked the winery to send people to guide The Buglioni Family through the process of harvest.
 
The Buglioni Family did have one advantage in this difficult situation. Being in the textile business, they had a lot of employees handy with a scissors! After being advised on the correct type of scissors for cutting grapes off vines, that being a secateur, 30 textile workers set to harvesting! 
 
"One of our friends rode through the vineyard on a scooter with a basket offering paninis for the workers," Mariano says."We completed the harvest in 3 days!" The harvest was a hit and The Buglioni Family decided to do it all over again every year. "We harvested the grapes this way from 1993 to 1999!" 
 
Things started to take a turn for the future along about 1998. "My father began renovations of the old house," Mariano says. "He decided to set aside a room just in case the family decided to make their own wine."
 
In 1999, construction was finished and, in 2000, a winemaker was hired! But the winemaker and consultants were making the same wine at Buglioni that was widely available.  Mariano says the family decided they wanted wines with "our own style, our own personality." 
 
What do we do, again? Mariano went to the university and requested names for the 3 best winemakers. Diego Bertoni, 23 years old, was hired and he remains the winemaker.
 
Buglioni was in the wine business! The winery started selling and selling to the point of needing an agent. But the family hit another snag. "Since the agents knew we had been in the textile business," Mariano says, "no one took us seriously."
 
That said, The Buglioni Family, now mightily determined to break into the wine business, came up with yet another plan. They opened Osteria del Bugiardo in 2005 in Verona. The wines were a HIT. Buglioni got the respect they so well deserved. And they landed an agent.
 
The first wines exported outside of Italy went to Switzerland and that country remains one of the biggest markets for Buglioni, particularly Buglioni Amarone. The Buglioni style is appealing to the international travelers who frequent Switzerland for banking and commerce.
 
Mariano poured  Buglioni Gargenaga, Valpolicella Ripasso and Amarone here @MertoWines for about 40 customers. We found the Gargenaga, think Soave, smooth with better body than you might expect. The Valpolicella Ripasso was bright and and full without being overpowering, and the Amarone was easy on the palate and just well done. I get why they like it in Switzerland!
 
Mariano suggested pairing his amarone with langoustein! Say what? Charlie Stanley of Cork & Fork @MetroWines says: 
 
"While most people associate Amarone with richer, red meat dishes such as braised beef, osso buco, or short ribs, it has much more flexibility. 
 
Consider the wine makers suggestion of a simple seafood pairing. Begin by procuring 3-4 high quality langoustien, more commonly known as Norway Lobster in Europe. Now here is the crazy part. Don't cook them. Split each langoustien down the center axis creating two mirror sides. Now drizzle a small amount of high quality, extra virgin olive oil over the langoustien followed by some finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley. 
 
There remains just one more step. Open a bottle of Amarone that has a slight chill on it, and enjoy your feast." 
 
Back to the story....Now, having been successful in both endeavors, does Mariano prefer the textile business or the wine industry? "Definitely the wine business because it is true, it's real," says Mariano. "Wine is shared at tables all around the world with food and friends."
 
And so we tested his theory! Mariano joined us for dinner at Chiesa in Montford where owners Robert and Melissa hosted us at the community table.
 
"Valpolicella means," says Mariano, "the valley of many wines." Valpolicella was, according to Mariano, one of the first wine making regions in Italy. 
And it is monumentally beautiful. About 15 miles from the heart of Verona and from there about another 30 to Milano, this is pretty much a dream world.
 
Over dinner, I asked Mariano where a person who lives in Valpolicella !! goes on vacation? "Greece, Sicily. This year, maybe Puglia."
 
Is there is a winery dog? "Yes. A boxer."
I wonder if Mariano needs a dog sitter while he is in Puglia.

 

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