Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Paolo Cantele at Tony’s here in Houston. He was in town with Jeremy Parzen checking out our city and sharing his wine. I really enjoyed hearing Paolo talk about the natural beauty of his home in Puglia, Italy. Whether he was talking about the winery, the vineyards or the beaches; his pride in his home and in what they produce there was apparent.
The family has worked to reduce the environmental impact from their winemaking on the land while also working with some Italian research groups. They are studying indigenous yeast strains, the effects of Brettanomyces on wine and on working to reduce micro-toxins. This combination of caring for the land in the vineyard while staying in front of the most current research in the winery is all part of the family’s goal to create wine that is not only a fresh, wholesome part of your dinner but a wine that can also tell the story of the place from which it came.
Our dinner at Tony's was fantastic as expected. I had opted for the pansoti, a pasta dish with squash, parmesan and sage to start and the seared halibut with fennel confit and oranges for my main course. Each of these were excellent with both the Cantele Chardonnay and Rosato* current releases. The wines were fresh and food friendly. Each of these would also be a good choice for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
Paolo was gracious enough to also order some Nebbiolo for the table from Tony’s well thought out wine list, which, along with a surprise course of the new Alba white truffle soufflé, gave the group an unexpected and decidedly decadent taste of Piemonte in the midst of a discussion of American wine culture and the beauty of Puglia.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Paolo Cantele, hearing about his home and tasting his wines. It was also a treat to enjoy this evening with Dale Robertson from the Houston Chronicle, Amy Gross of Vinesleuth, James Brock from the Houston Press and Alfonso Cevola, aka Italian Wine Guy.
*The Cantele Rosato is highly recommended and is available at Whole Foods for $13.99