Imagine this scene: in slow Wes Anderson-ion style, the camera pans across a fallow field that once gave way to gnarly old vines while a cloud of dust begins to circulate. The camera cuts to a man’s shoes: fine Italian leather. Then, pans up with a jolt to reveal: Antonio Galloni, hair slicked back, swirling a glass of wine, he takes a sip then spits and from where the juice lands, the vineyard springs back to life. Cue the music: “I Will Drink The Wine,” by Frank Sinatra.
Galloni’s vinous path led him from his graduate studies at MIT and a journal he founded called The Piedmont Report, focused on Italian wine, to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate where he reviewed the wines of California, Italy, Burgundy and Champagne. After Parker sold the magazine at the end of 2012, it was mere months before Galloni left his coveted position to begin anew, and founded Vinous Media, a website dedicated to enriching the wine connoisseur’s curiosity. I had the chance to speak with Galloni about Vinous and his upcoming event with Mario Batali at Del Posto:
Q: Assuming you believe something might inherently be lacking in the coverage of wine (given your leaving a prestigious post at W.A.), what is the impetus that prompted you to start Vinous and what do you hope it will do for the wine industry? What will it do for consumers?
In my view, what is missing today is a sense of genuine excitement and interactivity. Wine lovers don’t want to be spoken to, as they have been in the past, they want to be spoken with. With this in mind, we launched Vinous, which represents our vision of a modern-day wine media platform that places consumers inside the conversation and encourages them to form their own opinions.
At Vinous we bring together professional reviews, the stories behind the wines and the perspectives of our readers in 39 countries using multimedia and leading-edge technology. We visit hundreds of wineries each year, allowing us to offer unparalleled, first-hand insight into the world of wine.
Simply put, our goal is to help readers find wines they like. If we are successful, people will find greater enjoyment in wine and as they do that, the industry will grow- something that benefits everyone.
Q. Do you think wine consumers are smarter than they were 10 years ago or with so many resources available are they ironically less knowledgeable? And if either more or less informed, what does the future hold?
AG: Consumers are definitely more informed than they were 10 years ago, and that is a good thing. At the same time, though, the world of wine has become much more complex as new, emerging regions have come onto the scene that weren’t that interesting 10 years ago, including parts of Southern Italy, France and Spain. In the US, Paso Robles and the Santa Lucia Highlands are both vibrant wine-producing regions that are just beginning to show what they are capable of.
The internet has brought with it incredible access to content in all fields, but paradoxically made it difficult, if not impossible, to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the future, people will become much more selective in terms of what they pay attention to, which means competition will root out those who can’t provide meaningful content.
Q. What do you think of the alternative dining culture in New York City? Are you seeing trends like the ones being set by UGE in other cities?
AG: Anything that creates excitement and brings people closer to food is a good thing, in my view. It’s always great to discover the newest and latest, but personally I am not a fan of trends. A restaurant that is able to thrive over years and decades while weathering the natural ups and downs that are a part of life is much more impressive.
Q. Let’s talk about your upcoming event with Mario Batali. How do you know Batali? The dinner is $1,000 per person and is focused around white truffles. Why are you serving wines from Piemonte only and why specifically the 2004 vintage?
Mario and I have done a number of dinners over the years. We share a huge passion for the wine and food of Italy, so working together is a natural fit. Late November is peak white truffle season, so that is what we wanted to focus on. Given that white truffles are from Piedmont, those wines are the natural match. I chose a number of top Barolos from the 2004, a very high-quality vintage I have adored since the beginning. It will be interesting to see how the wines have developed now that they are nearly 10 years old.
Q. Let’s talk avant-garde wine pairings and scenarios:
Give me your ideal wine pairing with any of the songs from Frank Sinatra’s album “In The Wee Small Hours” and why?
AG: I have to choose Mood Indigo, a jazz classic, paired with a contemplative wine that unfolds gracefully over many hours. Barolo.
What’s a great wine to drink just before proposing marriage? Best to drink after a “No” response? After a “Yes” response?
AG: “Yes” – A great Champagne, naturally. Something racy and exuberant, like the 2002 Dom Perignon. “No” – Same wine choice. Different reasons. You have to treat yourself well in difficult times!
What wine would the Notorious B.I.G. drink if he was alive today?
AG: Fine aged white Burgundy.
Best wine pairing for bacon?
AG: California Central Coast Syrah
Q. UGE readers are keen on clandestine happenings – do you have anything planned in the near future that warrants a “clandestine” description and if so, what can you hint at that won’t give away the vineyard (so-to-speak)?
AG, Tuscany in the City. An incredible day highlighting the great wines of Tuscany. We always so something special for our premium subscribers that is definitely clandestine. For Friday’s dinner we are doing a private tasting of Selosse lieux-dits Champagnes, which are incredibly rare.
This interview also appeared on The Bloggery at UndergroundEats.com on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.