“Wine should embody the true character of the grape, the people and the land where they are grown”

This blog is named Wine and Meaning. Meaning is finding the connection between things. I admire Tarallucci e Vino’s philosophy of wine : “it should embody the true character of the grape, the people and the land where they are grown”. This philosophy fits right in with the heart of this blog. I enjoy learning about places, the people and their passions, the climate, the geography, the food and wines of the world. In psychological terms, this gives me a connection to the world: a common ground with others of hobby, passion, and community. Wine is the bridge.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorenzo Baricca (Wine Director and Partner at Tarallucci e Vino (4 locations in New York City). His professionalism and extreme knowledge is highlighted in our conversation as you will read below. Many vineyards he works with in Italy are small batch, family-run and biodynamic. Some of the grapes he offers cannot be found anywhere else in the US except on the wine list at Tarallucci e Vino. Terroir is a way to talk about the connection between food or wine and the place from where it’s grown. Terroir is a way of adding meaning to the food and wine we enjoy. At Tarallucci e Vino, Chef Ben Lee has announced that each week, Tarallucci will feature a farm from which they get fresh produce at the New York City Green Markets. Lorenzo discussed Chef Ben Lee’s long time cooperation with the GREEN MARKET FARM and Chef maintains close relationships with many of the farmers. Tarallucci e Vino has a special selection in their menu called DALLA FATTORIA. This consists of dishes created based on ingredients from two selected farms for that week. Chef creates one appetizer and one entree from products that come only from the week’s chosen farms(s).

Photo courtesy of The James Collective

Lorenzo Baricca: Photo courtesy of The James Collective

Abruzzese restaurateur Luca Di Pietro founded Tarallucci e Vino to capture the authentic taste and casual elegance of Italy’s dining culture. The culinary philosophy at Tarallucci e Vino adheres to the Italian ideal of high quality, sustainable, seasonal food, sourced locally and prepared to highlight the natural beauty of the products. The menus rotate with the seasons, using crops from the neighboring farmer’s market and from a network of local purveyors.

Recent two-time Ospitalità Italiana Award winners for authentic Italian cuisine, Tarallucci e Vino is rated “the best and the most true to the Italian way” by Vanity Fair and lauded as “satisfying in every way” by The New York Times.

Lorenzo grew up in in Vezzano sul Crostolo, Emilia Romagna watching his grandfather make wine. He owned and opened wine bars in Italy before moving to New York. He joined the Tarallucci e Vino team in 2007, becoming a partner in 2013, and has made it his mission to fill the wine list with unique, small-batch producers. He takes frequent trips back to Italy to see his family and to discover new winemakers. (Bio courtesy of The James Collective)

Lorenzo and I had a fantastico conversation about the wine list at Tarallucci e Vino in New York City.

W & M: What is your wine for every day?

LORENZO: ONE OF MY FAVORITE WINES FOR EVERY DAY IS LAMBRUSCO, EASY TO DRINK, LIGHT AND REFRESHING. YOU CAN HAVE IT AS AAPERITIVO, WITH PASTA, MEAT OR EVEN FISH. IT IS VERY VERSATILE. I GREW UP DRINKING LAMBRUSCO AS A LITTLE BOY. MY MOM MIXED IT WITH WATER FOR ME WHEN I WAS LITTLE. IN THE AREA WHERE I GREW UP, EVERY FAMILY HAS A BOTTLE OF LAMBRUSCO READY FOR EVERY LUNCH AND DINNER.

W & M: What is your special occasion wine?

LORENZO: AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA ( I CONSIDER IT TO BE MEDITATION WINE MOST SUITABLE TO DRINK IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE) AND WINES WITH THE NEBBIOLO GRAPE, LIKE BAROLO OR BARBARESCO IF IT IS FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION DINNER.

W & M: Do you have a favorite wine quote?

LORENZO: LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRINK BAD WINE.

W & M: Please give a brief history of your time in Italy as owner of a wine bar before moving to New York.

LORENZO: MY BAR FOCUSED ON A FEW DRAFT BEERS AND LOCAL WINE FROM SMALL PRODUCERS. WE USED TO PREPARE EVERY DAY, SMALL BITES TO OFFER TO OUR CUSTOMERS DURING HAPPY HOUR. MANY LOCAL PEOPLE, BUT ALSO SOME TOURISTS, BECAUSE WE WERE LOCATED ON THE ROUTE TO THE NATIONAL PARK OF APPENNINO REGGIANO AND CLOSE TO THE CASTLE OF MATILDE DI CANOSSA. WE USED TO ORGANIZE PRIVATE PARTIES AND OUR “CHEFS” WERE ALWAYS MY MOM, HER SISTERS AND SPECIAL SUPERVISION BY OUR GRANDMA. EVERYTHING WAS HOMEMADE AND WHEN POSSIBLE DIRECTLY FROM OUR GARDEN.

W & M: I see that you work with many vineyards that are family-run and biodynamic, and some of the grapes you offer cannot be found anywhere else in the US. Please list one of the wines you have with those grapes and name the grape. How often do you return to Italy to discover new winemakers?

LORENZO: I GO TO ITALY EVERY 3 TO 4 MONTHS. EVEN IF I AM ON VACATION, I CONSIDER MYSELF VERY LUCKY BECAUSE MY WORK IS MY PASSION. I ALWAYS TRY TO VISIT SOME PRODUCERS TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW. TARALLUCCI e VINO IS THE ONLY RESTAURANT IN THE UNITED STATES TO CARRY THIS SPECIAL LAMBRUSCO CALLED LAMBRUSCO BARGHI, L’INCONTRO, CANTINA PUIANELLO- ONLY 2800 BTL AND ONLY ONE PRODUCER . THIS IS A SPECIAL VARIETAL OF LAMBRUSCO. IT WAS CONSIDERED EXTINCT, BUT A FEW YEARS AGO THEY REDISCOVERED A FEW PLANTS IN ONE VINEYARD. THIS WAS A FAMOUS LAMBRUSCO IN THE 1800’s AND IT WAS MENTIONED IN MANY BOOKS OF THAT TIME. I AM SO PROUD OF THIS BECAUSE IT IS FROM MY AREA OF ITALY.

W & M: Let’s talk about a couple of wines of interest to me on your wine list: please tell the readers about each wine.

Frizzante wine (sparkling)- Franciacorta, Ferghettina, Brut (Lombardia) … pronunciation-franchacorta

LORENZO: THIS IS A BLEND OF CHARDONNAY AND PINOT NERO. VERY FINE PERLAGE AND CLEAN AFTERTASTE. STRAWBERRY AND APRICOT ON THE PALATE. LOCATED CLOSE TO LAKE ISEO. IT IS A SMALL PRODUCER WITH VERY HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT. ELEGANT, MEDIUM BODY, PERFECT AS APERITIVO OR WITH OYSTERS.

Bianchi wine (white)- Etna Bianco, Bianco di Caselle, Benanti ’11 (Sicilia)

LORENZO: 100% CARRICANTE HIGH MINERALITY BECAUSE IT IS MADE IN A VOLCANIC SOIL. IT IS DRY WITH A PLEASANT ACIDITY AND NICE AROMATIC PERSISTENCE. TASTE OF ANISE ON THE PALATE. BENANTI IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST PRODUCERS OF WINE IN ITALY. GOOD PAIRING WITH SEAFOOD.

Spergola, Pomoria Bianco, Cantina Puianello ’14 (Emilia Romagna)**** this is from his home town 🙂

LORENZO: 100% SPERGOLA MEDIUM HIGH ACIDITY, WITH FLORAL NOSE, THIS WINE IS UNIQUE. SIMILAR TO SAUVIGNON BLANC BUT MORE FULL BODIED AND CRISP, WITH GREEN APPLE ON THE PALATE AND A TOUCH OF TOASTED ALMOND ON THE AFTERTASTE.

Rossi wine (red)- Etna Rosso, Rosso di Verzella, Benanti ’12 (Sicilia)

LORENZO: GRAPES- NERELLO MASCALESE AND NERELLO CAPUCCIO, IT IS A WINE WITH HIGH MINERALITY BECAUSE IT IS MADE ON VOLCANIC SOIL. MEDIUM BODIED, IT IS RICH IN FRUIT ON THE NOSE LIKE RASPBERRY, POMEGRANATE AND PLUM. INTENSE AROMA WITH HINTS OF VANILLA.

By the bottle- Ormeasco Superiore di Pornassio, Guglierame ’11 (Liguria) 100%

LORENZO: ORMEASCO HAS VERY SIMILAR DNA TO DOLCETTO FROM PIEMONTE. MEDIUM-FULL BODIED DRY WINE, RUBY RED COLOR, WITH NOTES OF LICORICE ON THE PALATE. THE PRODUCTION IS VERY LIMITED DUE TO THE TERRAIN. THE VINEYARDS ARE PLACED ON TERRACES, EVERYTHING IS HAND-KEPT. THE WINE IS PERFECT WITH STEW MEAT OR FISH AND WITH MEDIUM AGED CHEESES.

W & M: I’d like to give you my choices for a meal, start to finish. Would you please recommend a wine to pair with each course and briefly describe why you chose that wine to pair with these food choices.

Brushette Course: Baccala 5 which is cod, potato, artichoke, mint

LORENZO: 100% TREBBIAN DI LUGANA, FAMIGLIA OLIVINI, MARKED MINERALITY, MEDIUM LIGHT, WELL BALANCED, FRESH GOOD MINERALITY

Cheese Course: Caciotta del Lazio which is sheep milk served with Chef selected condiments

LORENZO: COULD BE MANY PAIRINGS- BARBARESCO, ALESSANDRO RIVETTO, A BAROLO, TANNINS ARE MORE GENTLE, WITH A NOTE OF MINT AND TOBACCO, IT CAN MATCH PERFECTLY.

Secondi Course: Sogliola which is a pan roasted local sole, saffron sun dried tomato & green olive relish

LORENZO: ETNA BIANCO, PIETRAMARINA. IT IS A COMPLEX WINE, WITH INCREDIBLE ELEGANCE. THIS IS DELICATE, SO IT WON’T OVERWHELM THE TASTE OF THE WHITE FISH.

Dolci: Vin Santo Wine and anise cookies: why do these two pair so well

LORENZO: BECAUSE IT IS SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY AND SMILE. USUALLY IT IS SHARING A PLATE OF COOKIES, SOMETHING I LOVE TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS.

On that note W & M says …Lorenzo, you made me smile and this wine list makes me smile. Thank You for the unique wines and your passion certainly radiates in the wine list at Tarallucci e Vino!

Photo Courtesy of The James Collective

Photo Courtesy of The James Collective

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