Lunch with Anselmi

As many of you know, I have two boys and I try as hard as I can to not pass on any of my bad traits (some might call them neuroses) on to them. For the most part, I think I have been successful: there are no signs of procrastination, nor are there signs that they are particularly messy, and they do not tend to feel the need to drink copious amounts of wine (although the jury is still out on the last two).

But there is one.

I hate being late.

Although I do not tend to get all that manic about it, it has become clear that I have certainly passed on to my kids an anxiety surrounding tardiness as they both exhibit more than a modicum of angst anytime it is clear that they will be even the slightest bit late.

I do not consider this a necessarily bad outcome, but is never “settling” to see your child have a small cow when worried that they will be a minute or two late for a dentist appointment.

The problem is that conversely, I also like to try to push the edge of the envelope at the same time, which means I rarely plan to get anywhere way ahead of time–I would rather show up right on time instead of five minutes early, or worse, five minutes late.

It was with this backdrop that I planned my most recent trip to New York City for the In Pursuit of Balance (IPoB) tasting on Monday.

Just before the IPoB tasting (which was from 1-4), I scheduled a lunch with Mary Anne Sullivan and Roberto Anselmi, the noted wine maker from the Veneto region in Italy. The problem? Anselmi produces mostly white wine. There are exceptions, of course (Elena Walch in Alto Aldige and several producers in Le Marche come to mind), but I have been on record saying that I find the majority of Italian whites to be, well, um, not great. Nonetheless, I was determined to keep an open mind and was actually looking forward to the meeting.

(See? When I make a New Year’s Resolution to try more Italian wine…. Now if I could only drop that weight….)

The plan was to meet at a restaurant in Mid-town, have lunch, go through a few wines, and then head off back downtown for IPoB. I decided to take the 9:00 Bolt Bus from Philly up to the city, arriving at 11:00, which would get me there in plenty of time to catch a cab over to the restaurant. Was I cutting it a bit close? Yes, but Bolt Bus is usually reliable and I needed to get the kids off to school in the morning.

I showed up to the bus the requisite 15 minutes early (alright it was 13 minutes, but close enough) to find a line of people freezing their collective tuchus off (it was 18 degrees) and no bus. I asked the woman “in charge” and she said the bus would be there in 10 minutes. Satisfied that the bus would soon arrive and I would survive a few moments in the frigid temperature, my wife left for work.

Fifteen minutes later, the same woman who had promised a 10 minute delay, now said the bus would arrive in 15 minutes. Well, the bus did not actually arrive until another 20 minutes beyond that.

Once finally on the bus, the moron of a driver spent another 20 minutes trying to figure out how many open seats there were. He did this eight times. Just as I was about to offer up my expert counting skills, he decided he had counted the four open seats enough times and we were on our way, a full 213 minutes late (or there about).

The end result? I made it to the restaurant a solid 55 minutes late to find Mary Anne Sullivan (of Terlato Wines), Philip Kampe (another wine writer), and Lisa Anselmi (daughter of Roberto) at the table, each with three glasses in front of them.

I had some catching up to do.

The Anselmi Estate is located in the Veneto region of Italy, specifically in Soave–an area known for high production but also relatively low quality wines. Frustrated by winemakers in the area that did not seem interested in introducing improved grape growing and vinification techniques in order to raise the reputation of the entire appellation, Roberto decided to “leave” the Soave appellation altogether in 2000.

As a result, Anselmi’s wines from the region carry a “Veneto IGT” designation instead of the “Soave DOC” which enables them to be more experimental and innovative in the vineyard and the winery. After tasting through the wines, I was an immediate fan and thought that there is certainly hope for Italian white wine.

Although Roberto could not make it (they flew in the day before and he had caught some sort of bug), his daughter Lisa was an absolute delight. We chatted about wine, of course, but also about living in the Veneto, her affinity for American beef (she had a big T-Bone steak minutes after landing the day before), and how she spends her free time (despite working and traveling virtually non-stop for the family winery, she spends her time off working in her boyfriend’s restaurant in Soave).IMG_36782013 Anselmi San Vincenzo: Retail $18. 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc. By far (80%), the bulk of Anselmi’s production, the San Vincenzo is a lovely, aromatic white with notes of apricot and apple. On the palate, some minerality is evident, and sports a juicy finish. A sublime wine at a good price. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

2013 Anselmi Capitel Foscarino: Retail $25. 90% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay. One of the single vineyard designates from Anselmi, the nose highlights stone fruit apple, and a bit of citrus. More focused on the palate with a brighter mineral aspect than the San Vincenzo and a noticeably longer finish. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.

One of the best Branzinos I have ever had and the Capitel Croce was an outstanding pairing.

One of the best Branzinos I have ever had and the Capitel Croce was an outstanding pairing.

2013 Anselmi Capitel Croce: Retail $30. 100% Garganega. Yet another step up here (and another vineyard designate) with some floral aromatics added on top of the stone fruit. Slightly fuller bodied than the Foscarino, this is one of those white wines that really wants to be a red–bold with racy acidity, this could handle a wide variety of cuisine. I kept coming back to this wine repeatedly. Outstanding (just short of getting a “Whoa”–maybe in a year or two…). 91-93 Points.

2011 Anselmi I Capitelli: Retail $40 (375ml). 100% Garganega. Only made in the best years, this dessert wine boasts wonderful peach (with a hint of lemon) and honey on the nose. On the palate, certainly sweet, but stops short of “cloying” with the peach and honey joined by a little maple syrup (and that is a good thing). After having a sip of this, I passed on dessert, but refilled my glass. Twice. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

In the end, sure, I was late, but I have come to realize that people in the wine industry are not always manically concerned with punctuality. Maybe I need to get my boys to drink a little wine from time to time….

I suck at selfies...

I suck at selfies… with Lisa Anselmi

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Chardonnay, Garganega, Italian Wine, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Lunch with Anselmi

  1. Stefano says:

    Glad you eventually made it to your lunch despite the problems you encountered on the way and you had an opportunity to taste some good Italian whites. Anselmi is a solid producer (their Capitel Croce is definitely a very good wine): if you keep tasting quality Italian whites, you may convince yourself that there is more than just hope for Italian white wines. At least for those made by reputable producers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. vinoinlove says:

    Great post, Jeff. Glad to see you are starting to appreciate Italian wine but I don’t think it’s fair to say anymore that most Soave is of low quality. That used to be the case many, many years ago. These days there are the number of wineries which make excellent Soave DOC is actually increasing. Pieropan, Gini and Morini are just a few names that come to my mind..

    I Capitelli is definitely a good passito. However, I think it would be better if Anselmi would stop the Soave bashing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To Lisa’s defense, she did mention many of the producers that you list as makers of really good Soave. Her point (or more precisely her father’s) was that there was great resistance to creating a DOCG in Soave, something they felt would elevate the entire area. Frustrated, he forged on outside the appellation. Perhaps it comes off as Soave “bashing” but I think it is rooted in a genuine desire to elevate the region–a region they clearly love.


  3. Sounds hectic getting there but fun! I learned in Italy Italians are never on time. What a fun lunch!


  4. Excellent post. Keep on drinking italian whites. You are definitely started on a good track. Anselmi is a great producer in the Veneto. There are others too that you should look into, such as Pieropan. In my opinion, the best italian whites comes from Friuli. Start exploring that area, and you will see how fast you change your mind


  5. ahughes553 says:

    I kind of got all stressed out vicariously with the bus saga! No wonder immediate wine tasting following such angst is so gratifying!


  6. Buses are the most stressful form of transportation- at least it wasn’t Megabus, or else you’d have gotten there at noon the next day! Sounds like some good wines, though I am definitely of that mindset where I avoid Italian whites, especially if they begin in pinot and end in grigio.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I HATE being late! At least you got to drink some really good wines and didn’t find empty seats at your table.


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