Food, Wine & Friends Page 222
This is a "friend of a friend of a friend" story.
A fellow who knows a Bay Area wine industry mogul asked her
about some sort of internship for a a moderately distant relative's
daughter. The Mogul said she'd contact me as I "know everybody"
in the wine business in Italy.
A while later, then, a young lady comes to the shop to introduce herself and we
had a nice chat about a strategy to obtain an internship someplace in
Italy. The budding enologist is a recent graduate of the enology program
at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California.
I put out some feelers and, unfortunately, as this initial meeting was part way
through the summer, no "nibbles," as wineries already had interns
lined up. Many European cellars who take on such interns, have inquiries
from not only the USA, but Australia, South America and South Africa.
The following year, the young lady, Danielle Freschet, stops by the shop,
indicating that she's still interested in being an intern at a winery in Italy
and, lucky for her, I was just heading over there.
Well, I thought of a particular cellar as a potentially good site for both the
family at the winery and for Danielle. One thing leads to another and the
decision is made to accept Danielle as an intern at Barolo's prestigious winery
of Luciano Sandrone.
And things, according to all accounts, worked out beautifully for one and all
and now Danielle is part of la famiglia Sandrone.
Fast forward to April of 2012...Barbara Sandrone is coming to the USA on a
wine-promoting marathon and one stop is in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Danielle's parents would like to host some sort of dinner as a small measure of
thanks to the Sandrones.
Danielle, of course, being a "flying winemaking intern" is nowhere in
the area! She's off in Australia, providing some energy to the famous
Torbreck Vintners in the Barossa Valley.
So while Danielle is learning to speak Australian, her parents are busy
coordinating a possible "Evening With Barbara Sandrone" in Redwood
Now the words "organizing" and "Italian" are two which are
not usually connected in grammatically-correct English sentences, but somehow
the stars and planets fell into just the right alignment and, ecco!, we
were going to have dinner in Redwood City, California!!!
And so, on an unusually warm April evening, Barbara Sandrone arrived at the
And, even better, Danielle's sister Noelle was there along with all the
grandparents (a couple of whom had been in Italy during the internship and they
even ventured to Barolo for a few days of visits, meals and wine-drinking).
So, once all the introductions were made, we opened a magnum of a special bottle
of bubbly to celebrate this momentous evening.
Everyone hoisted a glass and we had a nice little brindisi.
Lucy noticed Luciano (Barbara's father) was not joining us, so she had his flute
A bowl full of seasoned nuts was might tempting (and addictive, too).
Paula, Barbara and Richard.
The weather for Barbara's visit was perfect and along the lines of a warm June
day in Barolo.
We then sat outside in the courtyard to enjoy some more bubbles, a few little
starters and some conversation.
I brought along my book "Amici del Piemonte" and everyone had a
nice little "tour" of the Langhe region with a long 'stop' at the
pages featuring the Sandrone family.
Barbara & Paula then engaged in some typical
Italian-speak: with their hands.
Meanwhile, inside Castello Freschet, la tavola was
ready for dinner...
And so the Freschivities continued!
In the kitchen, the primi piatti were being prepared...
With the artichokes and prosciutto, we enjoyed a well-chilled glass of Pierce
2010 Albarino from the San Antonio Valley in Monterey County.
Some of us enjoyed two glasses!
And so we had another toast, so if the ears of Danielle
Freschet and Luciano & Mariuccia Sandrone were 'ringing' at this moment,
this explains precisely why!
A while later I found Paula & Richard in the kitchen doing
some sort of Iron Chef ritual...
Richard was busy tagliando the tagliata.
And they assembled the main plate...
And the house, by the way, is remarkably artistic...
In addition to the tagliata, there was a platter of
culinary artistry in the form of roasted potatoes...
Richard took care of serving everyone...
And we enjoyed a couple of Cal-Ital wines.
Barbara indicated earlier in the day that she would be curious to taste a
California Nebbiolo, so I brought a bottle of 2009 "Giornata," a wine
from the Luna Matta vineyard in Paso Robles.
And we had a 2009 Seghesio Barbera from Sonoma's Alexander Valley.
The Giornata Nebbiolo was a hit!
Barbara Sandrone was pleasantly surprised (or shocked) to find
a wine of such elegance and finesse and, yes, it was along the lines, she said,
of a good Nebbiolo from the Roero region.
We thoroughly enjoyed that bottle with the tagliata, radicchio, arugula e
"Mamma Mia, Che Buon Vino!"
Another surprise was the Seghesio Barbera, as you can easily
see in this snapshot.
But what would dinner be, in California, without Zinfandel?
2009 Green & Red Chiles Mill Zinfandel...
We all took turns in having our pictures taken.
And good wine brings with it good conversation.
And then it was time for a little dessert and a bit of dessert
What? Grignolino Port???
Then things got serious when Nonno brought out a bottle of
Upon tasting this, I guessed it to provide somewhere between
10 and 15 miles to the gallon, but he confided in Barbara that 20 was more like
She said, "Oh, I think I'll stick with the
And then Lucy joined the festivities, too.
And then a few items made their way out of my magic bag...
Including this little gem...
At this point, Richard invited us downstairs for a look/see.
Yup, a little wine cellar...
Well, then we had a look at the clock...
"Oh my, it's late! What day is it today, anyway?" asked Barbara
(hop-scotching across the country will do that to you...Montreal, Miami, New
York, Chicago and San Francisco in just a few days!).
As we prepared to motor up to her hotel in The City, the grandparents were busy
looking at their prospective rides home.
I wasn't sure if the bicycles were a good idea at this late hour, but as they
left their horses at home, well...
to the Freschet Family for hosting such a grand evening.
Barbara said she fell asleep immediately once back at her hotel room and the
following morning awoke having had a very grand dream...but then she realized it
wasn't just a dream!
It was the fantastic night in Redwood City, California!
Next time we hope Danielle, if she's not busy making wine
somewhere in the world, will join us.
Thanks again, Richard and Paula, for hosting us.
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