Wine Talk | Meet Majestic Fine Wines and Vito Parente
Our Houston location had the most amazing night last Friday. See our photo gallery! A great crowd, amazing food and fantastic wines from Majestic Fine Wines, introduced by Vito Parente, Italian Import Specialist and Wine Connoisseur. We abducted him for a late night chat before he got back to Napa.
Vito, how did you get into wine?
VP: I worked in upscale establishments in Milan and Costa Rica. I earned my sommelier diploma in Barcelona but it was in Seattle, at a major catering company, that I really learnt not to judge wine, but todefine wine for what it is, with its own characteristics, its flavors and origin. I’ve been working with Majestic Fine Wines for almost two years now and I love their international mindset and the rough diamonds they have, like Tenuta di Arceno.
What do you like most about your job?
VP: Sharing, learning and travelling. I was sitting at that table tonight, and everybody shared their story, their experience. Getting to know other people, countries, languages, and cultures is my source; it’s the spring where I get my energy.
VP: Definitely Champagne. Bubbling Champagne is something so perfect that it can be paired with anything, or even sipped alone, just for the pleasure of perfection. I adore Piedmont wines, especially Barolo and Barbaresco, aged 15-20 years. Favorite vintages? 1964, 1971, 1974 and 1990.
What’s your favorite food when you eat out?
VP: Sushi and Sashimi. Puglia, my hometown region, is the Japanese region of Italy. You’ll go in a seaside restaurant and the waiter will ask whether you want it “crudo o cotto” meaning “raw or cooked” and you will get the Chef’s freshest selection of seafood.
Tell us about the wines you featured tonight. Barolo and Brunello are great wines, where do these come from?
VP: Tebavio Barolo 2005 and Ugolforte Brunello 2006 are wines with a soul, excelling with complexity and elegance. Just one sip and you know where you are. You need to be a visionary to produce such wines. The grapes have a 5-year investment and it means patience, dedication and hard work. They show quality as they show they’re able to evolve. The vineyards are just spectacular. Tenuta L’Illuminata (for the Barolo, e.n.) is located at La Morra within the Langhe area in a 20-acre property. The vintners work with Piero Ballario, an amazing purist Barolista. This all means no toasted wood and 45-day maceration. Tenuta San Giorgio (for the Brunello, e.n.) is located in Castelnuovo dell’Abate (Val D’Orcia), in the Montalcino area, and covers 30 acres. Varied soils like clay, calcium-rich areas and gravel, combine with mild temperatures and dry, windy weather and create a very specific and beneficial microclimate.
VP: Tenuta di Arceno is the reason why I joined the company. The property is so gorgeous. Located in a small town at Castelnuovo Berardenga, near Siena, it features rocky slopes and a combination of soils: clay mixed with sandstone, basalt and hard schist. They produce Chianti Classico, Chianti Riserva and Strada Al Sasso. All are low yield vines, meaning 3 US tons per acre.
What would you suggest to someone who’s starting to approach Italian wines?
VP: I’d say pick a region and stick to it. Explore it all. Taste the wines, select the wineries, and study the culinary traditions along with the suggested wine pairings. Italy has 600+ varietals and a huge amount of work, heritage and may seem unapproachable. The point is that it’s the local traditions that rule in Italy. We have 20 regions, and every region has its own wines, its own food, and its own culture. If you are a beginner, start off with Tuscany. Then, pass on to Veneto. Then, tour the Southern Regions: Puglia, Campania, and have a taste of Nero D’Avola, volcanic Nerello Mascalese and Cerasuolo di Vittoria straight from Carmelo’s beautiful island, Sicily. Keep Piedmont at the very end of your list. After an educational tour through the other regions, your palate will be able to appreciate the superb Barolo and Barbaresco in full.
Grazie Vito, it was a real pleasure!
VP: Thank You, I am so very happy. The feeling I experienced from this is that of a welcoming family. I talked with everyone at my table, and everybody shared with me some of their stories. It’s something that goes beyond the relationship restaurateur/client. It’s that intimate feeling that only happens when you are sharing experiences among family.
Thank you all for the great night!