Best white from Puglia? Fatalone’s Gioia del Colle Greco Spinomarino

The first and only time I met young winemaker Pasquale Petrera at the Radici Wines festival in Puglia, June 2011, I was immediately impressed by his belief in Natural winemaking (chemical-free farming and native yeast) and by what a simpatico and easygoing guy he was. I knew the wines and I was thrilled to taste with him: as the leading historical estate (some say it was an atavic of his who first bottled 100% Primitivo) in the only hilly appellation of the otherwise flat Apulian peninsula, there are many who would argue that his Fatalone Primitivo is one of the best if not the best from the region.

In the meantime, we’ve featured the wines on my list at Sotto in Los Angeles and they are a favorite of both the staff and the patrons (especially the riserva).

On the occasion of this post dedicated to his Greco (below), I couldn’t resist translating the following passage from his website:

    We consider the vine to be on the same level as a human being. And we give the vine all the best things that we could desire ourselves. Attention and care by the constant, loving presence of the human hand and respect for true artisanal tradition; a cool and comfortable, sound-proofed space with climate control; tranquility and harmony through the playback of classical music enhanced with the sounds of nature, intended to encourage micro-oxygenation and the micro-flora activity present in our natural wine – a living being, sensitive to musical therapy. This is the key to our success.

It never ceases to amaze me how Natural winemakers rely on humankind technology to cull the precious liquid from our fruity counterparts. I hope that — at least — he’s playing vinyl as opposed to digital records for his wines… But, hey, it’s definitely working for him… and for me…

Tracie P and I recently opened a bottle of his Greco Spinomarino, named after the Spinomarino “village road” where (I’m assuming) it’s grown.

The wine was bright and fresh, although gently oxidative in style, a balance of intense salty minerality and white and stone fruit flavor with a kiss of citrus. We loved it… probably the best white wine I’ve ever tasted from Puglia… The last glass, consumed the next night, was even better, richer in body and augmented by a gentle nutty note. And it weighs in for less than $20. Our kinda wine…

In other news…

Pasta in bianco and a Calabrian white (and the story behind Pearl lager)


Above: “Pasta in bianco,” literally “pasta in white,” one of my favorite things to eat. Pasta dressed simply with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and chili flakes.

In the wake of holiday feasting and the unusually cold weather here in Texas (making it all the more challenging to head to the gym!), Tracie B and I have been indulging lately in one of our not-so-guilty pleasures: pasta in bianco, literally, pasta [dressed] in white.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add a heaping handful of kosher salt (“enough to make it taste like seawater,” is the way Tracie B likes to put it). Cook a short or long pasta to the desired firmness (some like it more al dente than others). And then toss with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and chili flakes (if desired). Sometimes I’ll throw some finely chopped flatleaf parsley in as well.

After bread and wine, pasta in bianco (which can also be made using butter in the place of olive oil), is one of G-d’s true gifts to humankind. And it’s also one of the most healthy things you can eat. South Beach diet? Atkins diet? Hogwash! If you want to slim down or just stay trim, avoid protein and meat. Eat easy-to-digest starches dressed with the “good fat” of olive oil. When I first lived in Italy (more than 20 years ago) and pasta and rice became the central ingredient of my diet, my health (and life) changed radically for the better.


Above: Librandi is a high-volume winery in Calabria that makes well-priced food-friendly wines. They’re highly affordable, clean, and delicious. Calabrian and Apulian wine represent some of the greatest value in the market today.

I got a lot of feedback from yesterday’s post on the Calabria riots.

Last night, with Calabria on our minds, we opened a beautiful wine from Calabria that we love, Cirò Bianco: Calabrian Greco vinified in stainless-steel by Librandi. Bright (but not tongue-splitting) acidity, balanced minerality, and low alcohol (and a more-than-reasonable price) made this wine an ideal pairing for our pasta in bianco.

In other news (from the “recommended reading” department)…

doug sahm

Eric did a wonderful post yesterday poking fun at the fine art of pairing fine with junk food, The Match Game.

His recommended pairing for Mrs. B’s Chex Mix was Pearl lager.

I imagine Eric knows the famous beer of San Antonio from his days as a grad student at University of Texas at Austin.

That’s San Antonio and Austin music legend Doug Sahm with a can of Pearl in the photo left (courtesy of Pogzilla via IWG). (I’m sure you know Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan as icons of the Texas music scene but locally, Doug Sahm is considered its über-hero.) The Pearl Brewery is in the midst of a veritable renaissance these days: the facility itself and the adjacent retail and restaurant complex has become one of the top food and wine destinations in Central Texas. Definitely worth checking out…

Thanks for reading! Ya’ll come back now!