Thursday, November 4, 2010


My next two posts will be about my time in Salento, which is the heel of the boot and in the province of Puglia.
The title of my first post is "Palama," the vineyard I had the great opportunity to visit two days ago. Over the next few days, I'll follow it up with "The pull of Puglia" (the "g" is silent). The second title has double meaning that I will explain in due time.
So, Palama...
Palama is a vineyard whose wines are imported by Small Vineyards based out of Seattle and distributed by Valley of the Sun, in Phoenix. Through some networking with some amazing folks (thank you Erica and Antonio!), I have arranged a handful of visits to some of the Small Vineyard winegrowers. Palama was my first.
I arrived at Palama at 10 AM sharp, as scheduled. Immediately, I get a look of "Oh brother, another tourist" (I stand out like a sore thumb, BTW). As clearly as I could, I explained that Antonio Sanguneti had set up an appointment with Nini for me. I get a stern look and then a shout "Nini!.." who promptly shows up. Again, I explain and get a few more quizzical looks. "OK, we take you on tour and tasting."
"Va bene!"
backstage at Palama
Over the next hour, I felt as if I had stepped out of the cloud-filled Apulian sky and into the embraces of Nini and Palama. Nini directed the tour during which I learned about his father (Arcangelo), who started the vineyard and his winemaking. I learned why oak is minimally used, the different processes they use for the different varietals, and so on. At the same time, I told Nini about me, my pizza, the oven, the cycling, etc. In general, I stated that I wanted to learn about the wine, tomato, and flour that I'll be serving my customers. I wanted to know the story of where it came from. Then I told them the name "Pizzicletta" and showed them my bike. This discussion really gained me the respect I had hoped to receive. They ate it up like a crew at my house craving some pizza. It was a great moment. I looked Nini into the eyes and it was clear he was passionate about his wine. During this same time, he saw my own passion as well. These are the connections I came to Italy to make. What a gift. It was one of those exchanges I will not forget.
passion runs deep here
After getting to know one another a bit more, we tasted four wines. Three of them (Primitivo, Salice Salento, and the Negroamaro + Malvasia) are available through Small Vineyards. The fourth is a Nocello. Its an autumn specialty... much like Beaujolais in Paris. It was a different and very refreshing wine.
After the tasting, Nini presented me with two bottles of wine. One was the Nocello. The other... "this one is special." Its a wine he crafted in honor of his father Arcangelo. The back label reads "In memoria D'Arcangelo, padre della azienda. Dedicato a lui per il vostra placere."
"In memory D'Arcangelo, father of the company. Dedicated to him, and for your pleasure."
"Feeling honored" just doesn't explain how I felt walking back out into the Apulian sky and hopping on my bike. 
As I rode away, Nini let out a big "Buono viaggio!" 
more backstage
one of the wines imported by SV

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