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Wine and Epicurean
Articles about Wine
Read my two recent stories from Tuscany in the Oct. 31 Wine Spectator:
COVER STORY: THE PRODIGAL ANTINORI
Lodovico Antinori made the self-confessed "biggest mistake" of his life selling his renowned Tenuta dell'Ornellaia to Robert Mondavi Winery in 2002. Now he's mounting a comeback with Tenuta di Biserno, switching his focus from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to stunning expressions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from the Tuscan coast...Read the full story in the Wine Spectator
PROFILE: HIS OWN DRUMMER
Andrea Franchetti, who hails from a long line of Italian eccentrics, stumbled on an abandoned corner of The Val d'Orcia and turned it into a stell producer of Cabernet Franc. More than 15 years ago, he tripped on Sicily's Mount Etna....Read the full story in the Wine Spectator
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator April 30, 2016
In the countryside southeast of Florence, Italy, winemakers and other locals gather for an aperitivo on a gorgeous midsummer evening. Wine flows and fresh pizzas emerge from a wood-fired oven as the sun sets behind the Chianti hills.
A trim, bearded Englishman wearing jeans and a T-shirt, who has been mingling in the crowd, mounts the tiny stage with an acoustic guitar. He launches into a solo version of the Police's 1983 chart-topping hit "Every Breath You Take."
The crowd is galvanized by the familiar voice and the energetic reinterpretation of a classic song. For the man is none other than the song's creator.
At 64, Sting, the legendary Police frontman turned solo performer, has accumulated 16 Grammy awards and still fills arenas around the world. But the artist and his wife, Trudie Styler, are taking a break from a European tour to unwind at Il Palagio, the Tuscan estate they purchased in 1997.
Discovering the power and finesse of France's Catalan terroirs
by Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Nov. 30, 2015
Fifteen years ago, the Roussillon wine region, on France's Mediterranean flank near Spain, was a backwater. Today, more and more winemakers see Roussillon as France's next big thing. The area boasts terroirs that are often compared to those of Priorat, Spain's rising star some 150 miles to the south
"It's just a question of time," says winemaker Gérard Bertrand, 50, who is part of a wave of newcomers helping to transform this Grenache-rich region of rugged sea and mountain landscapes from a producer of fortified aperitif wines into a bastion of fine dry reds. "There's a rebirth of Roussillon happening now, with modern winegrowing, modern winemaking, a new way of thinking of about terroirs and a will to make high-class wines," explains Bertrand, a southern France native and leading biodynamic producer from neighboring Languedoc who moved to Roussillon in 2003 with a 20-year deal to manage the local Tautavel cooperative's grapegrowing, winemaking and marketing under his namesake label.
How the Jura wine scene got trendy
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Nov. 15, 2015
In France's tiny, quirky Jura wine region, vintners have a happy problem. In recent years, Americans have discovered Jura wines, from crisp Chardonnays and sparklers to light, indigenous reds and Sherry-like vins jaunes. Stateside, Jura wines are fashionable. Yet for most of France, they remain obscure. "I sell more wine in New York than I do in Paris," laughs Stéphane Tissot, a leading producer in one of France's oldest appellations, the Jura's Arbois.
The family behind Italy's famous coffee is on the move
By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator Oct. 31, 2015
Andrea Illy holds a spoonful of dark liquid to his lips and slurps it in one quick shot. A moment later, after a ritual spitting, he notes, "It's the terroir that makes a difference in what is expressed."
Illy, 51, the high-octane president of Illycaffè, is explaining the nuances of coffee aromas and chemistry in the testing laboratory at the company's roasting plant and corporate headquarters in Trieste, Italy. With focused intensity, he examines each of the nine arabica coffee components in Illy's signature single blend.
Local climate and soils, shade from plants, and varying altitudes influence the beans and the final product-from the intense cocoa and slightly bitter flavors of Brazilian arabica to its aromatic Ethiopian counterpart.
"We get more linalool from Costa Rica," Illy says of the natural compound responsible for jasmine aromas, which, he adds, is also used in Chanel No. 5.
Heading south of Barcelona for the Costa Dorada's authentic flavors
By Robert Camuto – Wine Spectator Oct. 15, 2015
Sipping a glass of chilled cava on the sandy coast southwest of Barcelona, or a bold, complex red in the hinterlands of Priorat or Penedès, you're likely to ask, "Why haven't I been here before?"
This vast, varied stretch of Catalonia's Costa Dorada, or "Gold Coast" (Costa Daurada in Catalan), is off the beaten path for most Americans, who often visit Barcelona for a few days before heading off to other parts of Spain or Europe at large.
But this 130-mile stretch along the Mediterranean deserves more attention for its inviting sandy beaches, stunning natural parks, both on the coast and in the mountains, ancient cultural and historic sights, and terrific fresh seafood and Catalan specialties at prices that are a bargain by any standard. Add to these charms the area's proximity to ruggedly compelling inland wine regions such as Priorat and Penedès, and you may start planning your next visit.
The Portuguese Capital emerges as Europe's latest culinary hot spot
By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator July 31, 2015
Today Portugal is the stage for one of the world's most dynamic wine scenes—but that's only part of the story. Portuguese terroir is booming beyond vineyards and wine, with other produce and the creativity and modern techniques of a handful of innovators helping to transform the nation's lively capital of Lisbon into an exciting culinary destination.
Lisbon is so naturally positioned to be a gastronomic center, one wonders why it didn't happen sooner. Located at the mouth of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River), on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Portugal, Lisbon was the departure point for 15th-century Portuguese explorers. Portuguese ships returned home with not only gold but also culinary treasures such as potatoes and tomatoes, tea and coffee, coriander and curry.
A gastronomic journey through the Dordogne
By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator June 31, 2015
Much has been said about the decline of traditional agricultural France and its once-revered cuisine. But it only takes about a day—and a meal or two—in southwestern France's Dordogne to be convinced that la France profonde is alive and deliciously cooking.
The Dordogne, named for its winding and alluring river, is the modern designation for what was historically called the Périgord. It spans some of France's most evocative countrysides, with dramatically sculpted limestone cliffs, lazy riverscapes, dense forests, rippling vineyards, hundreds of medieval châteaus and some of the world's best-preserved prehistoric cave paintings.
Nebbiolo's expresses itself in an almost lost corner of Northern Piedmont
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator April 30, 2015 At first glance, some of the vineyards above the medieval town of Gattinara bear a striking resemblance to the hillsides of Barolo, 90 miles to the south. Tall-growing Nebbiolo vines hug a collection of steep, rounded slopes with exposures in all directions.
But less-apparent differences, in climate and soil, give the wines of Gattinara their own distinctive character. The Alps loom closer, most notably the glacial peak of Monte Rosa, cooling the nights and bringing frequent rain. The earth itself is nothing like Barolo's clay and sand: The ground is a tough, stony mixture of red volcanic porphyry and granite.
"We are in the heart of an ancient volcano," explains Anna Schneider, a University of Turin ampelographer and authority on Nebbiolo. "What distinguishes Gattinara is the geology."
Lou Reed, Parmigiano Reggiano, and unexpected pairings
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Dec. 15, 2014
Chef Massimo Bottura is on a mission one morning in spring. He drives to the leafy edge of his native Modena with a stepladder and a pair of scissors—the car stereo blasting music on shuffle from his iPod. As Bottura pulls to the curb, his Mercedes wagon fills with the bass-heavy intro to Lou Reed's 1972 rock anthem "Walk on the Wild Side."
"This is going to be a walk on the wild side." Bottura grins through black-framed glasses and his salt-and-pepper beard.
The next few hours indeed bear witness to Bottura's wildly imaginative palate, which swings between the extremes of Italian tradition and the culinary avant-garde. His mission is foraging in an urban park for elderflowers, to be transformed into a dish for his 13-course seasonal "Sensations" menu at Osteria Francescana, one of Europe's hottest gastronomic addresses.
See the Video Trailer for PALMENTO on You Tube....
Robert reads from and discusses Palmento at McNally Jackson books in NY Sept. 2010.
Robert on radio