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Dinner with Paolo Cantele in Houston

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Paolo Cantele at Tony’s here in Houston. He was in town with Jeremy Parzen checking out our city and sharing his wine. I really enjoyed hearing Paolo talk about the natural beauty of his home in Puglia, Italy. Whether he was talking about the winery, the vineyards or the beaches; his pride in his home and in what they produce there was apparent.
The family has worked to reduce the environmental impact from their winemaking on the land while also working with some Italian research groups. They are studying indigenous yeast strains, the effects of Brettanomyces on wine and on working to reduce micro-toxins. This combination of caring for the land in the vineyard while staying in front of the most current research in the winery is all part of the family’s goal to create wine that is not only a fresh, wholesome part of your dinner but a wine that can also tell the story of the place from which it came.
Our dinner at Tony's was fantastic as expected. I had opted for the pansoti, a pasta dish with squash, parmesan and sage to start and the seared halibut with fennel confit and oranges for my main course. Each of these were excellent with both the Cantele Chardonnay and Rosato* current releases. The wines were fresh and food friendly. Each of these would also be a good choice for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
Paolo was gracious enough to also order some Nebbiolo for the table from Tony’s well thought out wine list, which, along with a surprise course of the new Alba white truffle soufflé, gave the group an unexpected and decidedly decadent taste of Piemonte in the midst of a discussion of American wine culture and the beauty of Puglia.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Paolo Cantele, hearing about his home and tasting his wines. It was also a treat to enjoy this evening  with Dale Robertson from the Houston Chronicle, Amy Gross of Vinesleuth, James Brock from the Houston Press and Alfonso Cevola, aka Italian Wine Guy.
*The Cantele Rosato is highly recommended and is available at Whole Foods for $13.99


  1. Nice to meet you too, Sandra....thanks

    1. Hopefully, we will get together again soon! Until then, I will see you on line :)

  2. Ciao tutti. It's sooo nice to see Cantele wines being so well received back home (USA). My business partner (also American) and I were actually referred to the Cantele cantina a few years ago while searching for new cantinas to add to our customized Salento wine tours. The referral came from another family cantina owner who could not fit us on the requested day. We felt an immediate attraction to the cantina who welcomed our American-style of just 'showing up' unannounced. Umberto Cantele gave us a grand tour and with heart felt passion told his family's history of wine making. We were treated to a few samples in the cantinas new wine tasting room where I, for the first time in my 20+ years of wine sampling, fell in love with their TERESAMANARA Chardonnay which they just so happened to be processing during our tour. Pugliese whites are far superior than any Cali imitations I have ever tried. I invite you and yours to come see for yourselves. We would be honored to take you on one of our tours and share our hard-earned (snicker,snicker) findings with you. Check us out on our new website ( and fell free to book your stay with me (Villa Donna or Donna's Cottage) and get my 'guests only' discount. There is also the annual 'Cantine Aperte' (Open Wineries) weekend held the last week in May which I still have vacancies for. Meanwhile enjoy some AMATIVO....I sure did during our Thanksgiving day celebration here in Puglia without a turkey but Italian roasted chicken and potatoes cooked under the drippings made a nice substitution...missed my Chardonnay but Amativo was the best I could get at the nearby shopping center for an incredibly low price. I'm constantly shocked how inexpensive quality wines are here in southern Italy...I just hope with the decade+ expotential growth and exports increasing that my favorites don't go over my military pensioner's budget!


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