Day 1: Vinitaly – The World We Love

D Day 1 at Vinitaly is off to a great start. Thrilled to be here and to see old friends and taste great wines. Despite the cold and rainy weather, typical at least one day of Vinitaly a year, the weather is turning out to be even better than expected. I started with a tasting... Continue Reading →

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Francesca, Il Mugello – Pinot Noir

Now it has been 7 years. I wish she were here and she could meet my son Niccolo’. She would have liked him and he would have liked her.

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Today was my friend Francesca’s birthday. She died four years ago of cancer at the age of 37. Every time I hear a certain song, eat a particular food or hear a deeply Tuscan accent, I think of her. She was a wonderful, artistic, creative soul who suffered an awful early death from that plague – cancer. I miss Francesca all the time. She was one of my oldest friends. I met her when I was 24 living in Florence and I spent every weekend with her and her boyfriend/husband for the better part of six years. She lived in the Mugello, an area of Tuscany above Florence towards Bologna in an old Medici Villa.

She taught me how to make Castagnaccio, showed me how to restore paintings, make jewelry, make nocino, and so many other delights. We sung our lungs out to Jovanotti, Ligabue and other Italian singers…

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Tuscany Still Has A Hold On Me Like No Other

Tonight’s virtual tasting with Snooth of Ruffino wines transported me back to Tuscany. I thought I would repost this piece on how I feel about the place. In the morning, I will write about the wines but I am going to bed with Florence on my mind…

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I guess it’s actually true that your first love can never really be replaced…In this case though, I’m talking about a city and a region. Last week, I was in Florence for all of 9 hours, enough to remind me of why I moved there and never left Italy for 15 years. Our love affair began over 20 years ago but it was June 1991 that it really took shape, when I moved to Via Vellutini, 5.

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So much has happened since then in life and in love, in the world and in work but I still feel like a kid when I get to Florence. It truly makes my heart soar and I think it will be that way forever. At least I hope so. I know it was last Thursday night when I arrived at 2030 at Campo di Marte, was picked up by a dear old…

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Women in Wine: A Chat With Stellekaya’s Ntsiki Biyela

Happy Birthday Ntsiki. Hope you are doing something wonderful today.

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I met Ntsiki Biyela, a 30 something South African winemaker who was born and raised in Kwa-Zulu Natal, about a month ago during her visit to promote Stellekaya’s wines in the United States. Ntsiki is one of only two or three black female winemakers in South Africa but that isn’t the only reason that she’s so remarkably interesting. It’s because she’s a young, dynamic, great winemaker. She’s also a very talented communicator and actually convinced me to take a second look at Pinotage, a grape that I have never been partial to, to be quite frank. I spent many hours chatting with Ntsiki over the course of an afternoon and during a dinner that was organized at Braai, a South African restaurant owned by the same people that run Xai Xai, the well known South African wine bar.

Ntsiki joined Stellekaya in 2004 and was at first…

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