Volcanic Soils, Old Vines and Italian Wine Diversity with Wine Spectator Columnist Robert Camuto

Jan26th

Introduction

What does drinking Italian mean today? How has globalization impacted the Italian wine you drink? Do volcanic soils really make a wine taste different?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with author and journalist, Robert Camuto.

You can find the wines we discussed here.

 

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Highlights

  • How does Emidio Pepe bring the past of southern Italy into the future?
  • How is the way of life different in the Mezzogiorno?
  • Why is lunch such an important part of the day in Italy?
  • Which fascinating winemakers did Robert dine with at one of his most memorable Italian meals?
  • Why does Robert love ​​Aglianico wine?
  • How was star winemaker Elena Fucci inspired to become a first-generation winemaker?
  • Do volcanic wines live up to the hype?
  • What impact does volcanic activity have on terroir and ultimately wine?
  • Are there distinct tasting notes common among volcanic wines?
  • What makes Fiano wine special?
  • What was it like to meet the renowned winemaker, Sabino Loffredo?
  • What does drinking Italian mean today?

Key Takeaways

  • Robert’s insights into how globalization impacted the Italian wine we drink were fascinating, including his example of how the granddaughter of sharecroppers is able to communicate with other wine lovers around the globe to sell her traditional wines and she no longer has to sell just to the local cooperative. That ability to go global while you’re still a small producer adds to the diversity of the Italian wines we drink today.
  • I loved his example of drinking a different Italian wine every night of the year without repeating yourself, such is the range of grapes and styles in the country.
  • I agree with his take on how volcanic soils influence the taste of wine: it’s more about drainage than anything else, although a new eruption every century or so certainly changes the landscape and the soils, literally. Old vines have a more profound impact on a wine’s taste, wherever they grow, in volcanic or other soils around the world.

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About Robert Camuto

Robert Camuto is an award-winning American journalist who has lived and worked in Europe for more than twenty years. He has authored three highly acclaimed books that focused on wine as a cultural and individual expression in the 21st century. His latest book, South of Somewhere: Wine, Food and the Soul of Italy is both a personal memoir of his Italian family ties and delicious travels to Italy over 50 years, as well as a portrait of Italy’s southern wine and food renaissance today. It was named among the best wine books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, JancisRobinson.com, TimAtkin.com and others. His previous books were Corkscrewed: Adventures in the New French Wine Country (2008) followed by Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey (2010).

As an American in Europe, Camuto has written for some of the world’s best-known publications on food and wine culture and since 2008 he has worked as a contributing editor for Wine Spectator. In addition to serving as a key features writer responsible for many WS cover stories, Camuto writes a twice-monthly column for winespectator.com, called Robert Camuto Meets….which, like all his work, focuses on the human and cultural sides of wine.

A graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, Camuto worked as a news reporter, features editor and founding weekly newspaper publisher in Texas before moving to France in 2001. In 2015, he and his wife moved to their current home in Verona, Italy. In the Old World, he gravitated to wine as a way of exploring more than flavours—as a way to understand local histories, politics, agriculture, traditions and tastes told through colourful characters.

 

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Transcript

Robert Camuto 0:00
This idea of volcanic soils has been overstated. There’s something really fantastic as far as the imagery in our minds.

Natalie MacLean : 0:10
Powerful. Comes deep from the earth.

Robert Camuto 0:14
Exactly. You mentioned drainage; that’s probably the most important thing of the primary effects of volcanic soils. They drain easily and the soil is friable too, so they can go down, they don’t just hit a boulder and stop. If you look at Mount Etna, it is pretty incredible, not just because it has volcanic soils, but because it’s an active volcano. The whole landscape changes every time there’s an eruption, where you’ve had these big lava flows that can completely change the terroir for the next couple of 100 years, until you have this cycle of lava breaking down again, plants regrowing volcanic dust, stones that fall from the sky and add nutrients and different things.

Natalie MacLean 1:03
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Well that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started.

Welcome to Episode 165. What does drinking Italian mean today? How has globalisation impacted the Italian wines we drink? And do volcanic soils really make a wine taste different? You’ll get those answers and more during Part Two of our chat with Robert Camuto, who has just published a terrific new book called South of Somewhere: Wine, Food and the Soul of Italy, about the people in places of Southern Italy. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one.

Now on a personal note, before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir. “Are you a mean girl?” my mother asked me. I just forwarded another email to her from a beta reader who said she was in tears reading my memoir. Yes, I take great pleasure in making people cry I replied. Sarcasm is my first defence against acknowledging real feelings. It actually touches me deeply every time I get a note from a reader who feels moved by what I’ve written. And much as I’d like to think they’re crying for me, I know better. They’re crying for the times they felt similar things. Whether it’s loneliness, despair, rejection, or a gaping hole love leaves when it’s gone. So not to be a Debbie Downer,  this is not a misery memoir. Humour is my second defence with feelings. I love it just as much; more actually, when beta readers start writing in all caps, and using multiple exclamation marks because the story has turned a corner to something happier. One reader told me she needed a hug emoji.

I read memoirs to find myself in someone else’s story, to understand myself a bit better, just as I know my readers do when they’re reading my book. Do you? Let me know. You’ll find a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch, where I share more behind the scenes stories about this journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/165. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know that you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at this manuscript email me at Natalie@nataliemaclean.com. In the show notes you’ll find my email contact, a link to the diary of a book launch post, a full transcript of my conversation with Robert, links to his website and books, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find a live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/165. Okay, on with the show!

Natalie MacLean 4:47
Tell us about another one; the Abruzzo winemaker Emidio Pepe.

Robert Camuto 4:51
Yes. Well, Emidio Pepe is a very famous red wine producer out of Abruzzo. And he’s kind of viewed as the very dapper Contadina type, you know, with his little cat bow and his suits when he shows up in wine fairs. In Abruzzo you see him, he’s always working out in the field from the morning and after the vineyards. He’s got his vegetable garden, his tomatoes, and he just loves being outside. He said, It’s my gym; for both my body and my mind. What I found super interesting about Emidio Pepe; he’s one of these people who’s really revered by wine lovers like myself who live in urban areas and look at Emidio Pepe as the real deal; this kind of purist red wine, no compromises traditionalist. So I remember speaking with Emidio for a few days when I was there, and one of his motivating things from his youth is they used to sell grapes for nothing, that part of Italy, which is really central, but attached to the south of Abruzzo. So on the East Coast, like many parts of southern Italy, I mean, it has the sunshine, it has the terroir, it has the climate. They make great grapes. But the farmers were kind of at the mercy of these traders who would come and buy the grapes, maybe to sell to make wines up north or in France or in other places. And they really didn’t have an access to markets. And he did a kind of an internship or stage; he got involved with this farming organisation in Abruzzo, and he went to the Netherlands. And he stayed with a Dutch family and he said, “Here they are, a Dutch family, they have one hectare, which is about two and a half acres of land. They grow grapes in a greenhouse, and they sell them to Italy.”

Can you imagine a country that is worse for grapes than Holland, the Netherlands? He said that really left the impression on him of the importance of finding market for your wines. And it was in 1964 that he decided to put his family’s first wine in bottles. And I think it was he made about 5000 bottles. And his father told them oh great, what are you going to do with that? Who’s gonna buy those wines? So lo and behold, with time and with his sticking with it, he found a market and he found success around the world. Emidio is very proud,  among his memorabilia, he has these tasting notes from this place in Chicago, from I think the 70s where his wine was rated number one and there was wines from Biondi Santi and all this. He was saying “my wine in a restaurant in Las Vegas, he was selling it for $600. seicento dollari!” ( $600) and his granddaughter Chiara (Chiara De Iiulis Pepe) was saying but grandfather, what if that has nothing to do with the quality of the wine? It means nothing, you know? And of course it doesn’t. But for him that was like really a point of pride, that in America, they can sell in Las Vegas. You know, 600 American dollars. So I think he’s a character that brings kind of like the past into the future and the Pepe family is fantastic. And they work like a family and they laugh together and argue together around the table and you know about such topics ,

Natalie MacLean 8:47
And you talked about in other places, the way of life is different there. Tell us what Mezzogiorno is and maybe the lunchtime specials.

Robert Camuto 8:57
Well Mezzogiorno is really the name for the Italian south. And what it really means is mid day. By the way, they also have the same name in France, you know, the Midi, the south. But for me, when I think of Mezzogiorno, you’d think of these long interminable afternoons; you go through a village and just the way that bright light hits most of the year, and you see dogs laying in the street, trying to get a little piece of shade and take a nap. But I think it does make sense because yeah, I mean, you just have these very long, hot afternoons where all you can really do after lunch is take a nap and then things open up late and go late into the evening. So it’s really that Southern European way of life.

Natalie MacLean 9:50
That slow pace. Yeah. What happens at lunchtime?

Robert Camuto 9:55
Well, I think at lunchtime, people go home to eat. I remember the first time I travelled to Sicily for Palmento (Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey), people were saying, Well, you know, we really don’t have restaurants. It’s not a big tradition in the countryside here. You know, they said, Well, do you mind if my sister cooks or you know, Mama? And I’m like, Yeah, great. Yeah. And some of those regions,. I mean, you go through, yeah, winemakers, whether they’re part of the new generation of female winemakers or young male winemakers, everybody’s got Mama who is right there ready to serve these copious long lunches.

Natalie MacLean 10:42
And that’s been the major difference between France and Italy or Northern and Southern Italy that

Robert Camuto 10:47
Oh, yes. Well, I’d lived in France for 15 years. And one of the big differences I discovered was, it’s time of lunch. So again, you know, in France, and depending where you go, people had gotten very busy. I mean, you go to Burgundy, and people have their appointments like this, you know, it’s everything is on a stopwatch. And I remember, so you’re lucky, you know, you get a couple of hours, you’re there and then it’s the next appointment. And I’ve taken that mentality, kind of when I went to Italy and to Sicily in general, and people were like, how long you staying? And I’m like, oh, and they expected it to be like, not hours, but days. You know, yeah, you come for a couple of days, call when you’re here. You know, that kind of thing. But yes, lunch is always part of the programme in Italy. Almost always, I should say, you know, when you know, you’re going to stay for lunch. So that’s always part of the programme. So I tried to divide my day into two, before lunch and after lunch.

Natalie MacLean 11:55
Right. Good planning. Can you remember your most memorable meal there?

Robert Camuto 11:59
My most memorable meal? There’s been so so, so many.

Natalie MacLean 12:11
They all blend together.

Robert Camuto 12:12
Yeah. Giampaolo Tamburini, who we talked about earlier, his mom is a fantastic cook. I write in the book about this one meal on this summer evening where we’re sitting out in the terrace overlooking the Spoleto Valley, with three of the winemakers who had come up from Campania, Sabino Loffredo  and Luigi Tecce were two of them, and they brought wines and mozzarella. And the main dish after all the pastas, were these little hens that a local hunter brought them and his mom had prepared and then after the meal, there was a familiar herbal smell going around the table.

Natalie MacLean 13:01
What was that the oh, okay, sorry.

Robert Camuto 13:03
Cannabis

Natalie MacLean 13:05
Okay, yeah, we serve that too in Canada.

Robert Camuto 13:13
Yes. And then also, when I was in Basilicata, which I write about, there’s a great wine area there called Vulture, spelled like vulture, and the wine is Aglianico del Vulture. Aglianico is a big traditional red wine. It’s a little bit rustic and wild and I really like it. The two main areas are in Camania, the Taurasi area inland from Naples and then way down south, below the instep of the boot in Basilicata, which is one of the least populous areas of Italy. So it’s really two volcanos with you know, volcanic influence soils where it grows because Vulture is an old extinct volcano that it turned into a caldera. Now there’s a caldera, there’s a big lake in the middle now. There’s a great wine scene going on there, Generazione Vulture. And I liken it somewhat to Etna in the sense that you’ve got producers who have come from other regions, Tuscany, most notably, a lot of young people trying to do something with their wines, trying to do something different than the old wines, which in this case, tended to be very heavy. As one of the winemakers, Viviana Malafarina said, you know, it’s like the wines were so big you had to drink them with a brontosaurus steak. I remember spending a week there, and every winery I visited. It seemed like there was some grandmother or mama who had prepared lunch there and each one was more elaborate than the next?

My last day there, Elena Fucci (https://theitalianwinegirl.com/generazione-vulture-the-new-wave-of-aglianico-2-0) who’s a really dynamic winemaker from that area. She’s the granddaughter of sharecroppers, who basically decided to make wine when her parents, who were both school teachers and had kept up the land with their grandfather, they basically said, Well, you know, we have two daughters, if you guys don’t want to take care of this, we’re just going to sell the land. And she was ready. You know, when she was young. She was like, Oh, yes, I’m gonna leave this area. It’s called Barile. It’s a little town. I’m going to leave here. I’m going to go live a sophisticated life somewhere else, like in Milano, and I’m never going to come back and blah, blah, blah. And then her parents said. Okay, well, we’ll put it up for sale and, and she said, but are we going to have to sell the house too? And they said, Oh, yes, yeah, you know, we sell everything. And it was like a thunder bolt that hit her. And she realised she didn’t want to lose all that; the house, the land, these fields that she’d grown up in.

And she went off to study oenology, and didn’t look back, and is today one of the stars of southern Italian winemaking. And to me, that’s incredible, how you’ve gone in like a generation or two, one of the positive sides of globalisation, I would say is that you can have this granddaughter of sharecroppers, who’s able to have an audience and communicate directly with them, through like, say, for example, social media. You know, it could be the north of Italy, it could be Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Vancouver, it doesn’t matter. So that’s kind of fantastic that they’re able to expand their universe, and communicate with other young people and wine lovers around the globe, and not just have to sell to the local cooperative or whatever.

Natalie MacLean 17:12
Sure. I’m sure that’s facilitating a lot of generational change.

Robert Camuto 17:17
So to get back to your meal, my last day in Basilicata, Elena had prepared a traditional dish, which I love, it’s called pasta Maccarunar du Munacidd. And it’s called the Munacidd, because the Munacidd is like a little gnome, which, in that part of Italy, it was a traditional kind of folkloric figure that people always saw these Munacidd and they always say, all these little gnomes, and it was a little known that had this had, you know, if something happened, people would blame it on these gnomes. Like if there was an earthquake, and that, you know, like, the dishes fell off thing was like, Oh, that was the Munacidd if it’s the middle of the night, you know, in these rural places where you had like, the whole family sleeping in the bed, and let’s say like, the parents were making another addition to the family, they would say, Oh, that was the Munacidd that was making all that noise. So they have these great peppers there that are called cruschi peppers that they dry, and oh, I mean, I couldn’t eat them like potato chips. But they put them on top of this pasta, like a little hat. I love that pasta.

Natalie MacLean 18:30
Sounds delicious. I love the backstory. That is great.

Robert Camuto 18:35
She made a great story. And of course, her father is a very expressive person. And so oftentimes at lunchtime, when you get into a conversation, people go off on these tangents. By the end of the tangent, they’re practically crying, talking about the family, or something that occurred in their area.

Natalie MacLean 18:58
Wow, no wonder you have to plan your day for half a day once lunch starts

Robert Camuto 19:03
They’re telling you papa, papa, you don’t eat, Mangia, mangia

Natalie MacLean 19:08
Eat,eat? Yeah, get ready for dinner. It’s almost dinnertime. You were mentioning the volcanic soil. That is something I’d like to ask you about. Like, there’s been a lot of talk about volcanic wines, volcanic soil. Do you think it makes a big difference? Apart from it’s got to have different drainage characteristics. But is there something else beyond that?

Robert Camuto 19:31
I think that maybe to some extent, this idea of volcanic soils has been maybe overstated, in a way, especially because we really respond to volcanoes. There’s something really fantastic as far as the imagery that comes up in our minds.

Natalie MacLean 19:42
Powerful; comes deep from the earth, exactly.

Robert Camuto 19:50
You mentioned drainage and I think that’s probably the most important thing in my opinion of the primary effects of volcanic soils, that the roots can really go down, they drain easily.

Natalie MacLean 20:09
Roots have to search for the nutrients. Again, for those who might not be technical, like the water is draining off, the vine suffer, they have to go deeper down, the deeper down they go perhaps the more nuances of something they pick up

Robert Camuto 20:22
The soil is kind of friable to so they can go down, they don’t just hit a boulder and stop.

Natalie MacLean 20:28
Friable, did you say the soil is friable?

Robert Camuto 20:30
That they can break up and that the roots can penetrate; kind of like schist, you know, another great soil. Having said that, I do think that if you look at Mount Etna, it is pretty incredible, not just because it has volcanic soils, but because it’s an active volcano. And I love the fact you know, you talk about terroir. And I don’t think that that’s really fully been mapped on Etna. I think it’s just too difficult because soils, and the whole landscape changes every time there’s an eruption. So we’re you’ve had these big lava flows that have come down, that can completely change the terroir for the next couple of hundred years, until you have this cycle of that lava breaking down again, plants regrowing.

And that would be the liquid form of lava. Otherwise, you have this like volcanic dust, stones that fall from the sky, and add nutrients and different things. And that’s super interesting. I think when we talk about volcanic soils, we need to maybe talk about them with a little more precision. And I do think that old spent volcanoes do have this kind of drainage and this kind of like really interesting soil going on. I think that somewhat active or active volcanoes have this whole other dimension that either a cloud of ash can come in and completely change that and also the sulphur in the air. Sulphur is something that people add to vines to protect against certain moulds and mildews. Well, in an area where you’ve got sulphur in the air from an active volcano, you may need less of that or it can influence. So I think when we talk about volcanic soils, we need to talk about what stage they’re at and get down into that precision. I think that there’s a lot of probably people who like to say, Oh, yes, we’ve got volcanic soil too. I’m not sure that you can just generalise like that.

Natalie MacLean 22:48
Right. And is there any way speaking of generalising, this may be unanswerable, but is there any way you would characterise a volcanic wine that you’ve tasted? Do they have anything in common in the way they taste?

Robert Camuto 23:00
I would say Look, old vines in great soils tend to bring a lot of what we would consider complexity and interest in the glass. So I would say that volcanic soils are conducive to having old vines with deep root system. And those kind of little myco-parasites are attached to the root systems and do whatever they do to bring the out those mineral interesting flavours. But I think it takes vines of a certain age. Like for example, one of my favourite white wines from Campania, that I think is incredibly complex and interesting and fascinating, is Fiano. And you have Fiano, di Avellino. And one of the interesting things about Fiano is it’s almost aromatic when it’s young. And then with age, you get these strange flavours that start developing and one is like you would almost say, Oh, this is oaky Chardonnay, but it’s not. It can be made entirely in steel or glass, but you get what they call it like kind of a roasted hazelnut flavour, like a toasted hazelnut flavour. And then you get this kind of like very much petroleum Riesling thing that comes out of there also. To what extent does that come from the soil? Are those products of the fruit? I’m not sure.

Natalie MacLean 24:43
Yeah, quite an incredible range of expression from the floral aromatics to is this an oaky Chardonnay or a petroly Riesling

Robert Camuto 24:54
And Fiano is fascinating. No alliteration intended

Natalie MacLean 24:59
And you visited one particular winemaker Sabino Loffredo, who specialised in Fiano. He had quite a range.

Robert Camuto 25:06
Yes, yes. Well, I was recently at Feudi di San Gregorio, which is a very important winemaker in the region of Avellino. And they’re kind of like a modern winery. The President is Antonio Capaldo. And I think the family started it as sort of an investment after a big earthquake in Avellino in the 80s. But I think they’ve pursued things in a very intelligent way. And they’re very inclusive. I was talking with Antonio and we decided, why don’t we do a Fiano dinner where we just drink Fiano from beginning to end, in all its different aspects. Young, dry, single vineyard. And it was really very interesting. Some say that Fiano is really the perfect pairing for mozzarella cheese.

Natalie MacLean 26:00
Why is that? Is it because of its acidity?

Robert Camuto 26:03
Well, I think in Mozzarella, you have this kind of non flavour flavour, this kind of creamy texture that penetrates it, that’s almost a sponge asking for something more. That’s a topic for a whole other conversation. In fact, I think Natalie, that would be a great thing for you to look at. And next time you do a cheese pairing look at mozzarella and Fiano.

Natalie MacLean 26:25
Absolutely, you’ve intrigued me.

Robert Camuto 26:31
Well, Antonio when he told me a while ago, he said, Look, Sabino makes the best Fiano in the region. And the thing is, nobody knows how he does it. So I visited Sabino and he is very much a self taught winemaker; he used to be a cruise fitness and structure until he had terrible injury, you know, motorcycle injury and blah, blah, blah. He was recuperating at his father’s house in the countryside. And that’s where the wine and vineyard bug bit him. And what’s incredible about Sabino is when he makes his wines. I mean you see his winery. It’s a disorganised mess. And, you know, he said, Look, I’ve never borrowed any money. I’ve never and literally, some of his pumps and equipment. They’re old. They’re creaky. They make noise. They’re held together with like, duct tape and not even duct tape; like packing tape. You know, when I asked Sabina about this, he goes off;  Oenologists, they always try to sell you equipment. They always want you to buy new equipment. It’s a big rip off. You know, you don’t need it. But his wines are absolutely exquisite.

Natalie MacLean 27:51
Wow, you think they’d be oxidised or I don’t know, the hygiene factor would come into play, but I guess not.

Robert Camuto 27:57
Yes. And his white wines too. And, oh, Sabino also said, I don’t drink white wine anymore. You know, I only drink red wine. And he makes a little bit of red wine. But to be honest, I mean, his Aglianicos are not at the level of his Greco di Tufos and his Fianos. So we’re at this dinner and there’s, you know, they’re serving about eight wines, I noticed that every glass that comes along, you know, he’s being served and it’s a multicourse dinner. And he’s like, Yeah, I’ll have some more of that. Try it and, and I said, But Sabino, I thought you didn’t drink white wine. And he goes, Oh, no, this isn’t drinking. This is just tasting. But let’s say they were big. They were big tastes. So.

Natalie MacLean 28:45
Oh, he’s being thorough. Yeah, for the good of his own. Research winery. Oh, my gosh, so many characters. Robert, we could go on for an entire afternoon in the sun overlooking the sea. I wish we were there. But this has been a fascinating conversation. But I want to know, have we missed anything that you’d like to mention now? Again, we have to do another part two of this. But yeah, have we missed something that you’d like to mention? Well,

Robert Camuto 29:12
I would say if I could leave today with anything. First of all, I love Italy. I love the south. So many great things to discover there. And I’m just so glad to have witnessed this time, which I think is a golden age for the south that people can participate in. And it’s fun to see the changes and activity that’s going on there and to taste it too. So to me, that’s really exciting. I guess the last thought that I would say is what does drinking Italian mean today?

And to me what it means is if you just look at the number of registered grapes alone in Italian wine, it’s like over 545 And those are the only ones that are registered but you know there are maybe thousands, nobody knows nobody’s quite sure and blah, blah, blah, blah. And what that means is that you can pretty much drink something different every single night of the year and not repeat yourself. I think that’s what’s super exciting about Italy today and the South is that there’s a lot of these wines that are just different and evolving, that you can pair with different foods, every part of the meal, different times a day, different seasons. That’s what it means to me today. Like generally, I would say, my Dad’s generation, you had your favourite Cabernet, your favourite super Tuscan, your favourite, you know, this wine and you drank it until you were sick of it and then change. But I think the exciting thing about Italy today is just the head spinning variety. It’s really worth diving into

Natalie MacLean 30:58
The archaeological, to borrow your own term, on your own taste, to explore, to dig down to all those varieties. And then the food pairings. Yeah.

Robert Camuto 31:06
Yeah. And at prices that are still you know, somewhat reasonable to, there’s a lot to discover.

Natalie MacLean 31:13
How exciting. Wow, you’ve definitely given us a taste or a yearning for a taste of Southern Italy, and especially through your book South of Somewhere. Beautiful book. I imagine it’s available at booksellers online, and physically, it just came out recently. So it should be widely available.

Robert Camuto 31:31
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Natalie MacLean 31:33
Okay. Great. And where can people find you online Robert?

Robert Camuto 31:36
They can go to Robertcamuto.com, social media, I’m on all of that, you can find all of that through the website, everything about the book, Robertcamuto.com. And my twice monthly column for the Wine Spectator is called Robert Camuto Meets. And you don’t have to be a subscriber. It’s free to read that column. And I generally profile different areas, mostly in Italy, some France and I think you’ll find a lot there; different stories, twice monthly,

Natalie MacLean 32:05
Terrific. The conversation can continue through your book and your columns and so on. Robert, thank you so much for joining us. I love your stories. Again, I would love to continue sometime in the future because I feel like we barely scratched the surface. But thank you so much for being here and joining us today.

Robert Camuto 32:23
Thank you, Natalie. Appreciate it.

Natalie MacLean 32:25
All right. Oh, speak again soon. Cheers.

Natalie MacLean 32:35
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Robert. Here are my takeaways.

Number one: Roberts’ insights into how globalisation has impacted the Italian wine we drink were fascinating, including his example of how the granddaughter of sharecroppers is able to communicate with wine lovers around the globe to sell her traditional wines, and she no longer is forced to just sell it to the local cooperative. That ability to go global while you’re still a small producer adds to the diversity of Italian wines we drink today.

Two: I loved his example of drinking a different Italian wine every night of the year without repeating yourself, such is the range of grapes and styles in the country.

And three, I agree with his take on how volcanic soils influence the taste of wine. It’s more about drainage than anything else. Although a new eruption every century or so certainly changes the landscape and the soils literally; old vines have a much more profound impact on wines taste wherever they grow in volcanic or other soils around the world.

In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact, a link to the post Diary of a Book Launch, the full transcript of my conversation with Robert, links to his website and books, how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. That’s all in the show notes at Nataliemaclean.com/165. Email me if you have a sip, tip, question or would like to be a beta reader of my new memoir at Natalie @Nataliemaclean.com.

You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Bridget Albert and Julie Milroy on their excellent podcast called Served Up. I share stories about my journey as a writer and drinker, and some teasers about my upcoming memoir. In the meantime, if you missed episode 95 go back and take a listen. I chat about wine and cheese pairing with Janice Beaton. Roberts food descriptions including Italian cheeses made me remember this episode. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Janice Beaton 34:53
I think cheese is very sensual, the visual, the smell, such simple ingredients can yield such profound variety.

Natalie MacLean 35:03
Yes. Hey, that sounds so much like wine; They both start with liquids. They’re both fermented. And they both get more complex as they age, at least the best kind do. So what similarities do you see with wine and cheese?

Janice Beaton 35:15
I think you’re absolutely right Natalie, there are so many things that wine and cheese have in common. And the whole concept of terroir, that environment in which grapes are grown or animals feed, we often talk about the fact that when you think of grape vines growing in soil that is also providing the grasses that goats are grazing on, there’s no big surprise that there’s a similar flavour profile between the wine and the cheese from that region.

Natalie MacLean 35:46
If you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a zesty Italian white wine that pairs beautifully with an Italian cheese. Ciao!.

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Nataliemaclean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

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