"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!
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.