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Wine and Epicurean
Articles about Wine
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.
Greece's great whites flow from volcanic soils of a legendary island
By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator Nov. 15, 2014
Just a few miles from the village of Thira on the island of Santorini, home to a honeycomb of whitewashed hotels and infinity-edge pools set atop steep cliffs, Stefanos Georgas describes the harsh scene around him. Scant rainfall, strong winds and a landscape punctuated by prickly pear cactus give it a desertlike feel.
"This is Jurassic Park," says Georgas, manager of Estate Argyros, one of the Greek island's leading producers. The acres of Assyrtiko vines don't look much like a vineyard, growing amid bone-dry volcanic pebbles and sand between the barren, sun-scorched Profitis Ilias mountain and the Aegean Sea.
Exploring the wines of Italy's "Green Heart"
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Oct. 31, 2014
With its perched medieval towns and its rolling hills covered with olive groves and vineyards, central Italy's Umbria can look like a twin of its northwestern neighbor, Tuscany.
But there is no Florence here, no cultural icons to rival Michelangelo's David or Brunelleschi's Duomo. And Umbrian wines have yet to achieve the stature of Brunello or Chianti. For wine lovers, though, Umbria's obscurity can be a good thing. The region, nicknamed "Italy's green heart" more than a century ago by Tuscany's Nobel Prize winning poet Giosuè Carducci is a bonanza of exciting diversity and excellent value.
Umbria is Italy's heartland—the only region that doesn't border the sea or a foreign country. The small region's annual wine production is roughly a third of Tuscany's.
Pino Cuttaia cooks his way to the top of Italian gastronomy by sticking to his roots
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Oct. 31, 2014
Pino Cuttaia left his native Sicily at 13. Following the death of his father, he quit school and went to live in northern Italy's Piedmont with his mother, where he worked a monotonous, soul-deflating job in a textiles plant. "I was just a number," he says. "I wanted to be something more."
The first step on the path to his destiny came in the form of a seemingly mundane offer: A friend asked Cuttaia to help wash pots and pans at a trattoria on New Year's Eve. Cuttaia connected instantly with the rhythms and life of the kitchen.
"It was a free ambience, where there was movement and noise and smells," recalls Cuttaia, 46, a big-boned man with a shaved head and enormous dark eyes. "It wasn't at all like the drone of a factory."
Cuttaia quit the factory job and went to work as a full-time pot washer, the lowest level of the restaurant hierarchy. But, he says, "I turned it into an art."
by Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator August 31, 2014
Enrico Crippa starts his day on a 5-acre plot wedged in the hills of Barolo. Two full-time employees tend the land, and Crippa comes to survey and to help harvest.
But Crippa is not a winegrower. He is a cook, and, at 43, is arguably the most important chef in the Piedmont region, a rising star in a generation of Italian culinary innovators. Here in this plot between the road and a creek is his main culinary weapon—a garden supplying almost all of the greens, vegetables, fruits, wild plants and edible flowers that flavor and color his cuisine.
On a bright spring morning, he moves quickly through a series of beds and makeshift greenhouses, kneeling to snip clover, rocket, chicory, baby spinach and several varieties of mustard, basil and mint. Nearby, violets, gentian and thyme flowers wait to be plucked. "This garden does for the restaurant what Barolo does for the wine of the area," Enrico Crippa says. "It drives everything."
"i'm a farmer now," says Brad Pitt. here's the story of how he and Angelinia Jolie came to become wine partners with the Perrin family at an historic Provence estate
By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator June 30,2014
One of the biggest wine stories in recent memory comes in the form of a squat Burgundy-shaped bottle of rosé from Provence. Not just any rosé, but one that arises from the winemaking passions of Hollywood's most famous celebrity couple—Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
For Pitt, 50, a longtime wine lover, the Miraval rosé is the culmination of a dream. "We became impassioned with this place, which could produce its own wine, its own food, and become a place where artists could congregate and share ideas," Pitt told Wine Spectator. After renting Miraval for several years, he and Jolie bought the property in 2012 for an estimated $60 million. Read the full story in the Wine Spectator.
By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator June 30, 2014
When it comes to dream destinations, few have been mythologized as much as France's Provence. This sprawling, sun-splashed Mediterranean region—bursting with olive groves, orchards, wild herbs, vineyards and antique stone villages where pastis and rosé flow—has for generations drawn moguls, movie stars and legions of tourists in search of a piece of the good life.
Yet Provence has managed to keep its authentic heart intact as it has evolved. A boom in worldwide rosé demand has brought recognition to regional wines and given a boost to producers and investment. (See "The Rosés of Summer".) The region's capital, Marseille, is undergoing a renaissance with some of Mediterranean Europe's boldest and most ambitious architectural and restoration projects along its stunning waterfront. A new generation of chefs is not only preserving Provence's classic market cuisine, but also celebrating it with modern twists.
Italian cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti charts vineyards from Barolo to Bordeaux
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator June 15, 2014
When Alessandro Masnaghetti looks at vineyards, he sees things most of us don't.
Standing atop a hill in the middle of the Barolo appellation at noon on a late winter day, he faces some of Italy's most renowned vine-planted hillsides. He analyzes the way the sun and shadows fall on every contour, considers each exposition and notes the grade of each slope. Then he melds this information into his knowledge of where Nebbiolo grapes ripen to produce the deepest, most complex wines.
At 52, Masnaghetti is Italy's leading vineyard cartographer and a meticulous student of geography's influence on wine. Sturdily built with a trimmed, white Hemingway beard, he points to the long ridge that forms Cannubi, less than a mile away.
A New Generation at Saint-Emilion's Beau-Séjour Bécot
By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator May 31, 2014
The vineyards that gently slope from the heights of the picturesque medieval village of St.-Emilion produce some of Bordeaux's most prized wines. Yet this famed plateau is also home to some of the region's most divisive family intrigues.
In recent years, dissension and fallings-out, fueled by what are among the wine world's highest real estate prices—topping $1.5 million per acre—have led many a château to be sold to deep-pocketed outsiders or corporate conglomerates.
In this environment, Château Beau-Séjour Bécot is a rarity. This prestige estate created in the 1960s by merging the Bécot family's own ancestral property with a neighboring estate is now passing to yet another generation, without controversy. The Bécots themselves have the rare distinction of tracing their roots in St.-Emilion winemaking back more than 200 years to the French Revolution.
A new generation is transforming Bordeaux's most misunderstood profession
By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator April 30, 2014
Mathieu Chadronnier, who at 35 years old is already one of Bordeaux's most influential wine négociants, got rid of his private office long ago.
After being named head of the major fine-wine reseller CVBG in 2001, he began knocking down walls and hiring young, tech-savvy people who loved wine. Beginning with just one assistant, he increased CVBG's buying-and-selling team to eight in Bordeaux, plus another in Hong Kong.
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