Cannonau, Italian Grape Name Pronunciation Project (with Alessandro Dettori)

Lately, there has been a lot of positive response to the Italian Grape Name and Appellation Pronunciation Project. Nothing could make me more happy: I created the project to encourage people to speak Italian grapes. After all, one of the things that fascinates us about Italian wines is the ampelonyms and the stories behind them (or in many cases, the lack of information about their etymons). This week’s installment comes via David Weitzenhoffer, who runs a great little importing operation out of New York, Acid Inc. Although at Sotto, we buy Alessandro Dettori’s wines through his Southern Californian importer, we do carry a handful of David’s wines at the restaurant (Scala Cirò and Schola Sarmenti Negroamaro) and I love what he’s doing with his portfolio.

Dettori? The wines that Alessandro produces on his family’s estate in Sardinia are among my favorite wines of all time. We sell them at Sotto, Tracie P and I collect them (they’re not out of reach for middle-class collectors like us), and they changed my life — there’s no other way to say it — when I first tasted and began following the wines back in 2005 in New York.

I met Alessandro — an electric character, for his personality and the crowds that gather around him at the fair — for the first time this year at Vinitaly. I’ve included here a clip in which he explains the etymology of Cannonau.

Great stuff… thanks to David and Alessandro for taking the time for this and sharing this wonderful ampelonym with us. And thank you, if you’re reading this, for speaking Italian grapes!

The sweetest reward: one of the best figs I have ever eaten

francesco secchi

Above: Sardinian-born Francesco Secchi, owner of the Ferrari Italian Villa chain in Dallas grows all of his own herbs, including Sardinian mirto (myrtle). Who needs Viagra?

It’s getting to be that time of year that people start bragging about their fig trees. There are those who brag and those who deliver.

Italian Wine Guy and I had dinner last night with clients of mine, Francesco Secchi and his son Stefano (below), owners of Ferrari Italian Villa in Grapevine (Dallas). The food was very good, but the figs… aaaaaaahhhhh the figs… the figs wrapped in perfectly sliced prosciutto were FANTASTIC. The 30-minute trip from Downtown Dallas to Grapevine (where Stefano presides over the kitchen) is a small price to pay for this paradisiacal experience. I highly recommend the wood-fired flatbread and antipasti misti. (It’s so hard to find well-sliced prosciutto, btw, anywhere in the U.S. and I was thoroughly impressed by Stefano’s deft hand at the slicer.)

stefano secchi

In other news, I’d like to thank the academy…

Our friend Howard and fellow lover of natural wine has been inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences! Mazel tov, Howard! I can’t believe you’d join a club that would have you as a member!


Jaynes Gastropub was named one of the top 5 gastropubs in the U.S., together with the Linkery (also in San Diego) and the Spotted Pig (NYC). Not too shabby, mates! And they said this whole gastropub thing would never take off! ;-)

Btw, I’ll be announcing some very exciting news about me, Tracie B, and Jaynes in just a day or so… stay tuned…

In other other news…

After running a wine dinner in San Antonio on Monday night and then working the market all day yesterday and today in Dallas, I cannot wait to get home to my super fine lady, the lovely Tracie B, tonight. Her nachos and some natural and stinky old natural Dolcetto di Dogliani happily await me. Life could be worse…

tracie branch