The Decanter interview: Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini

The pioneer of the Slow Food and Slow Wine movement is buoyed by the renaissance of Italy’s native varieties, as Carla Capalbo explains…

Carlo Petrini
Carlo Petrini.

Interview: Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini

‘When we launched the first Salone del Gusto in Turin 22 years ago, attitudes to food and wine were very different.’

Against a backdrop of alarm and increasing global urgency over climate change, Carlo Petrini, the pioneering founder of Slow Food, is determined that each of us can still make a difference.

Petrini is uniquely placed to hold such an opinion: his movement – for that’s what it is – has spread from being an all-Italian association of regional food and wine lovers in the 1980s and ’90s to its current position as a global hub for food enthusiasts, activists and farmers in more than 160 countries. His grassroots Terra Madre network, started in 2004, is at the centre of this support for sustainable indigenous agriculture.

Community champion

Slow Food-Terra Madre today lobbies against transgenic crops and monoculture, fights for the rights of small-scale farmers, food communities and fishing people, and helps save plants and animals from extinction. Its ongoing projects include establishing thousands of vegetable gardens across Africa, fighting for better animal husbandry and highlighting issues such as climate change, land- and ocean-grabbing and the right to food that is good, clean and fair.

‘When we launched the first Salone del Gusto in Turin 22 years ago, attitudes to food and wine were very different,’ Petrini explained at the opening of the biennial event’s twelfth edition in 2018.

‘I said then that the day food received as much media coverage as fashion we might have resolved the problem of food’s lack of dignity. That day has come, maybe more than we bargained for… Now it’s time to look beyond the mostly male chefs who endlessly adorn our TV screens to the people who work the land and produce the world’s food – millions of whom are women.’

Slow Food has always devoted part of its energy to wine. Petrini, born in the Langhe, Piedmont’s viticultural epicentre, has published many books and guides, including (jointly with Gambero Rosso up to 2010) Vini d’Italia, which helped lift Italian wine out of its slumbers in the 1990s and onto the global stage. Now, the annual Slow Wine guide focuses on the stories and people behind Italy’s wine, and doesn’t give numerical scores.

Early improvements

‘When we published our first guide in 1987 and started awarding the Tre Bicchieri [‘three glasses’, the highest accolade], it was a way of stimulating the winemakers to improve their quality, and it helped to bring about a renaissance in Italian wine,’ says Petrini when I meet him at Pollenzo, Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences.

‘At that time, Barolo didn’t sell: you bought three cartons of Dolcetto and they gave you one of Barolo for free! It took four years to make, but nobody wanted it because it was too heavy. The young pioneers of the time transformed all that.’

Grape renaissance

Today’s young wine producers are again challenging the status quo. ‘In what I consider the two most important changes in Italian wine in the last five or six years, young people are playing an important part. The first is the repositioning of indigenous grape varieties.’ Italy is credited with having close to 2,000 of these, of which around 400 are currently being used for winemaking.

‘That’s what I’d call a beautiful problem, because until recently many of these local varieties were conceding defeat. But this revival movement, particularly when the young lead it, is providing great results – and delicious wines. The most successful, and one of the first, was Timorasso. If I’d been told 10 years ago that Timorasso would become Piedmont’s top white grape variety, I wouldn’t have believed it. After all we have Gavi, Arneis and Erbaluce di Caluso. But today’s Timorasso offers better structure, complexity and length, and has great ageing potential.

‘This has also enabled us to move beyond the classic areas for great wines such as Chianti, Friuli and the Langhe to a far more varied landscape. It’s like returning to the idea of Enotria, when wine was made in every corner of Italy.’

Petrini also highlights an increasing respect for the health of the vineyard, with fewer chemical inputs in both the field and winery. ‘Our young growers are aware of the public’s increasing demands for food and wine that respects the environment and the soil, and they are enthusiastic about the vini naturali that until a few years ago were the domain of only a limited number of drinkers.’

One other important theme may seem to be about marketing, but goes right to the very essence of Italian wine. ‘We can’t keep just talking about what we smell in a glass or obsessing over scores,’ says Petrini. ‘We need to underline the relationship with our cultural roots that distinguishes Italian wines from so many others and that positively enriches the complex world of Italian viticulture.’

‘So if you ask me how healthy the Italian wine world is at the moment, I’d say very!’

Capalbo’s stars of the renaissance

Three producers breathing new life into forgotten varieties and regions

Francesco Cirelli, Cirelli, Abruzzo

Francesco Cirelli bought this estate in 2003, high in the hills of Abruzzo. From the outset he envisioned an organic, multi-crop farm in which wine was just one element. Today, he makes non-interventionist wines in large clay jars from Montepulciano, Trebbiano and the local variety Pecorino.

Giovanni Scarfone, Bonavita, Sicily

From his terraced vineyards in the northeast corner of Sicily, Scarfone crafts a low-intervention red and rosato from local varieties. ‘We are renewing a tradition that began here with the ancient Greeks in what had become a semi-abandoned part of the countryside,’ says Scarfone.

Luca Faccenda, Valfaccenda, Piedmont

Producing wine in Piedmont’s less famous Roero hills, Faccenda focuses on two local varieties: Arneis and Nebbiolo. His fermentations are as wild as his mass of brown curly hair, and his approach is as refreshing as his Vindabeive – a juicy glass of Nebbiolo joy.

Carla Capalbo is an award-winning wine and food writer, photographer and consultant who has been based in Italy for many years. Her latest book Tasting Georgia (Pallas Athene, June 2017) won the Guild of Food Writers’ Food and Travel book prize.

The post The Decanter interview: Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini appeared first on Decanter.

Is It Cold Outside? You Might Be Drinking More (Wine Spectator)

You know the old saying, “It’s all about location, location, location”? It might apply to how much alcohol you drink. Recent research published in the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases’ online journal, Hepatology, shows a link between a region’s climate and its average alcohol consumption—specifically, the lower the temperatures and the fewer the sunlight hours, the higher the drinking levels.

“Everybody assumes that people drink a lot in the north of America because it’s cold, but we were surprised that nobody has ever studied that,” Dr. Ramon Bataller, professor at the University of Pittsburgh, chief of hepatology at the university’s medical center and the study’s senior author, told Wine Spectator.

To investigate this hypothesis, Bataller and a multi-national team of researchers looked at data from the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization and other large, public data sets to gather information on 193 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and 3,144 U.S. counties. They ran a systematic analysis of different areas’ alcohol consumption patterns and levels—measured as the total intake per capita, the percent of the population that drinks, and the incidence of binge drinking—as well as the average annual sunshine hours and average temperature, to see if there is in fact a correlation between alcohol consumption and climate.

Though their research did not look at why this correlation exists, according to Bataller, there are multiple factors that likely play a part. The most prevalent is that alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it temporarily opens the blood vessels, bringing warm blood to the skin and making the body feel warmer in cold weather. (If you’ve ever heard a college kid throw out the term “beer blanket,” this is what they’re talking about.)

Plus, colder temps and darker days can limit a person’s options for leisure activities, leading them to stay indoors and drink more than they would if they were spending more time outdoors. Bataller also notes that cold weather and low quantities of sunlight are linked with depression, which could cause a person to drink more.

It’s worth noting that this study does not break down a place’s temperatures and daylight hours by season, so it’s tough to say whether people drink more during the winter than in the summer, regardless of where they live. “I would say this study suggests that maybe [people drink more during the colder months], but the seasonal thing has not been proven by any study,” Bataller said. “This is important because some of the coverage [of this study] has said that alcohol should not be advertised in the winter time. But that is not a direct consequence of the study. You can speculate that if you want, but we have not studied seasons of the year.”

Like many studies that have to do with alcohol and health, this one shows a correlation, not a direct causation, and it’s important to keep in mind that there are countless other factors that can determine how much an individual drinks. It’s certainly not a reason to be alarmed—nor an excuse to overindulge—if you live in an area with lower temps. As long as you are conscious about how much you drink—and the reasons why you’re drinking—the cold shouldn’t bother you, anyway.

Want to learn more about how wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle? Sign up for Wine Spectator‘s free Wine & Healthy Living e-mail newsletter and get the latest health news, feel-good recipes, wellness tips and more delivered straight to your inbox every other week!

Expert’s Choice: White Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Say the name and people’s first thought is of this southern Rhône region’s famed reds. But the quality and stature of Châteauneuf blanc can be just as impressive, says Matt Walls…

White Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Outside Burgundy and other sacred sites of Pinot production, there aren’t many great terroirs that produce white and red wines of equal standing. There’s Pessac-Léognan, Rioja, Hermitage… and what about Châteauneuf-du-Pape? After a recent blind what tasting of 87 whites from the 2016 and 2017 vintages, I would say it’s certainly on its way.

Scroll down for Matt Walls’ pick of the best 18 white Châteauneuf-du-Papes


See Matt Walls’ pick of the best 18 white Châteauneuf-du-Papes

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The post Expert’s Choice: White Châteauneuf-du-Pape appeared first on Decanter.

Predictions for 2019: Wine-Inspired Royal Baby Name; #WineBeerEmoji Campaign (Wine Spectator)

Now that all the New Year’s poppers have popped, Champagne has been drunk, and novelty party glasses manufacturers finally stopped puzzling over how the hell to fit lenses into the numerals “2019,” it’s time for Unfiltered to take on our own annual challenge: Predicting the year in wine and pop culture to come.

At this time in 2018, we thought we had it all figured out, but now, one year older and wiser, we can see we only had most of it figured out. We predicted that like all other movies, wine movies would only be made in trilogies, and Somm 3 saw to it. We thought 2018 would be the year the wine robots learned to feel love, and for a time they did, happily mixing drinks and cracking jokes for their human caretakers—until we pushed them too far. And finally, we called it that chef José Andrés would win the Nobel Prize, vanquishing longtime rival Bobby Flay in a harrowing test of culinary ingenuity, ingredient artistry and human empathy. (OK, so far we only know Andrés has been nominated for the prize.)

What do we divine for two-zero-one-nine? Read on, and hold us to it! Get the Unfiltered newsletter delivered straight to your inbox on alternating Fridays—all the latest scoop on drinks in sports, movies, music, politics, art, crime and more!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Bestow Wine-Inspired Name Upon Their Royal Baby

There’s nothing that could top the excitement, the intrigue and the gossip that marked last year’s Royal Wedding … except, that is, this year’s Royal Baby! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced in October that they are expecting their first child together, and the world is already cooing over the little Lady or Lord—and placing bets on what the bundle of joy will be named. Among the Victorias and Alberts and other royal-sounding suggestions floating around, Unfiltered is offering another possibility: Considering the wine-centric craze surrounding the couple’s nuptials, Harry and Meghan will surely name their child after a wine, grape or region!

The question is, what will it be? Perhaps Eden or Olivier, after one of the wines rumored to be at their wedding reception. Or maybe there will be a little baby Tig (short for “Tignanello”) to pay homage to Meg’s favorite super Tuscan. Start your betting now!

Unfiltered to Demand #WineBeerEmoji

In 2018, the cool teens of Kendall-Jackson, Flora Springs and a handful of other wineries got together to write up a proposal for the creation of a #WhiteWineEmoji. Without the white wine emoji, wrote the authors to the Unicode Consortium (the keepers of phone glyphs), how were emoji users to convey “glass of white wine”? “The image of a ‘red wine glass’ + ‘white box’ does not clearly translate the meaning of ‘white wine’ in human language,” they noted. Too true, of course, but in 2019, we’re counterproposing that the proposal does not go far enough.


We fight on.

“Today, wine is ubiquitous worldwide and evokes strong personal and emotional connections and opinions,” the winery petitioners argued in 2018. “In its simplest form, it boils down to, ‘Are you a red or a white wine drinker?'”

With all due respect, this is antiquated thinking. It’s 2019, and more and more people are identifying as pink wine drinkers, blue wine drinkers, green wine drinkers and other libational expressions that don’t fit into a pat red/white wine binary. Their voices need to be emojed too, which is why in 2019, we’re advocating for a #WineBeerEmoji. We submit that the image of a ‘red wine glass’ + ‘clinking beer mugs’ does not clearly translate the meaning of ‘winebeer’ in human language. As more and more people embrace their alcohol fluidity in 2019, we should have an emoji to celebrate our love of winebeer in our 🏠, 🧺, 🏝 or 🚡.

Millennials to Ruin Wine, Music with Cult Cab Reboots of Mediocre ’90s Jams

Last year, we predicted (more or less) that the Millennials’ nostalgia for remakes would ruin movies, and we weren’t wrong—we just weren’t thinking big enough. In fact, everywhere you looked in pop culture, the hits, hot trends and heartthrobs from the Y2K-era Millennial middle-school years were cool again in 2018: Mission Impossible, Super Mario Smash, Panic! At the Disco, Dick Cheney, daring your friends to eat detergent …

Mariah Carey / Vevo

Mariah Carey may be the Songbird Supreme, but she prefers Caymus to Screaming Eagle.

We thought 2018 would be all about wine movie reboots, but it was the musicians who scored the soundtrack to the late ’90s and early ’00s who made a splash on the wine scene: 50 Cent and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon released bottles full of bub’, Pearl Jam poured Washington wine, Lenny Kravitz tasted the stars at Dom Pérignon and Kelly Clarkson took aim at wine haters on Twitter.

But only the Songbird Supreme, Mariah Carey, combined new tunes with retro-hip wine vibes in 2018: On the first song on her new album, “GTFO,” Carey laments she “could’ve sworn you loved me harder / Might as well down this Caymus bottle” in a nod to the heady heyday of cult Napa Cabernet that coincided with the diva’s own reign atop the charts.

In 2019, expect to see more faves from your Clinton-era Napster playlists and burned CD-Rs remix their hits with Dad’s favorite Cabs: Jay Z‘s “’99 Harlans,” Korn thrasher “Freak on Stag’s Leap,” Marcy Playground‘s whimsical low-fi groove “Sex and Kapcsandy,” the infamous Los Del Rió earworm that will have you belting out “Ehhhyy Montelena!” Eminem smash “The Real Kapcsandy,” Joan Osborne‘s plaintive “What If God Was Joseph Phelps?”, the Verve‘s one-hit masterpiece “Bitter Sweet Kapcsandy,” the Offspring‘s irreverent “Pretty Fly (for a White Wine)” … As the memorable reworked lines of Chumbawamba will put it: “He drinks an Eisele drink, he drinks a Melka drink, he drinks a Schrader drink, he drinks a Carter drink.”

Or Kid Rock, as usual, will capture the moment best, kicking off the alt-rock fest DallaVallepalooza 2019 with an exuberant, “Bawitdaba da bang a dang Kapcsandy!”

’81 Wine Consumers’ the Movie Tells Dark Post-Apocalyptic Tale of the 2019 Wine-Shipping Bans

In late 2018, the organization Wine Freedom (operated by the National Association of Wine Retailers) set up a GoFundMe campaign for a key Supreme Court case called Tennessee Retailers v. Zackary Blair, which, if ruled broadly, could have drastic consequences for wine lovers’ ability to order their wines online and have them shipped right to them. The $26,120 raised in the campaign resulted in an amicus brief titled “81 Wine Consumers.” Word is out it will be adapted to the silver screen (or iTunes). Spoilers ahead.

*Epic movie trailer voice* In a world where the Supreme Court of the United States cares more about states’ rights and temperance than the unfettered flow of alcohol products across state lines, a landmark decision led to bans on the little out-of-state retailer shipping that was left in 2019, reducing wine lovers nationwide to have to leave their house, get in their car, and drive 5 minutes to their local wine store to get a bottle of #BarefootOrNothing [a real hashtag in 2019].

81 Wine Consumers tells the stories of every #WineFreedomWarrior who attached their name to the brief, following them along in 81 poignant if brief vignettes, as they come to terms with the annihilation of their wine rights.

Consumer Ashley Brandt (played by Elisabeth Moss) was part of a thriving tasting group in 2018, but after the fateful Supreme Court ruling, it became impossible to find any wines worth comparing and contrasting. The group was forced to disband. And then there’s Katherine Granger (Sandra Bullock), who had ordered a case of prized wine just before the shipping ban came into effect, but it arrived too late and was quarantined at a UPS location. She sets out to find her precious Wine Box, which she does blindfolded for some reason that you’ll only find out if you just watch the damn movie already.

Advance praise for 81 Wine Consumers:
“A masterpiece. We cried the whole way through.”—The National Association of Wine Retailers
“Whoever thought up this plot has a chillingly dark mind … wait this is a true story?!”—The writers of Black Mirror

Unfiltered Hires Special NBA Correspondent LeBron James

You might be surprised to learn that Unfiltered isn’t just one pop-culture obsessed wine writer who spends all day trolling Twitter for story leads and watching late-night talk shows for wine references, but instead a collection of linguistically gifted enophiles with varying vinous interests and specialties. But once you recover from the initial shock of this revelation, think about the endless possibilities of whom we could recruit for our team in 2019 ….

While Emmanuel Macron would be a strong addition to the wine-meets-politics beat, and there’s perhaps no one better than chef José Andrés to cover the intersection of food and humanitarianism, the one job application Unfiltered is anxiously awaiting is that of basketball superstar LeBron James.

The three-time NBA champion deserves an award for the number of times he’s appeared in Unfiltered for his wine-soaked escapades on social media—and considering the surging popularity of wine among athletes (including fellow basketball players, hockey stars, footballers and more), it seems only right that Unfiltered would have someone cover the booming wine-and-sports beat from the inside.

LeBron, if you’re reading this: With your birthday, your injury and probably some basketball stuff on your plate, we’re sure you’ve already got plenty to keep you busy, but if you ever feel the urge to write about, say, Sassicaia (one of our favorites too!), DM us!

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Exciting Wine Restaurants in Atlanta (Wine Spectator)

When you think about Southern American food, staples like fried chicken, biscuits and collard greens often come to mind. But in cities like Atlanta, star chefs and independent owners alike are expanding local cuisine far beyond the classics, and offering world-class wine programs to match. Here are nine Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning destinations for superior wine and food, served with a side of Southern hospitality.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to We want to hear from you!

LuAnne DeMeo

Aria Restaurant’s sleek dining room sets the stage for chef-owner Gerry Klaskala’s modern menu.

Polished dishes and a diverse wine program
490 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 233-7673
Open for dinner, Monday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 500
Inventory 1,500
Wine strengths Managed by wine director Andres Loaiza, Aria’s wine list is filled with solid picks from classic regions, especially France, Italy and Spain. There’s something for everyone, with bottles ranging from less than $30 to more than $2,000.
Opportunities for discovery At Aria, you’ll also find labels from lesser-known wine regions in Slovenia, Lebanon and the Canary Islands. The diverse list is meant to complement the frequently changing cuisine.
Cuisine Chef-owner Gerry Klaskala’s American menu is constantly evolving, but the restaurant maintains customer favorites like the short rib of beef with pearl onions and potato purée. Produce shines through the dishes, which feature an abundance of vegetables like sunchokes, oyster mushrooms and fennel.
Local dining leader Klaskala is one of the owners at another Best of Award of Excellence winner featured in this guide, Canoe.

Tomas Espinoza

Atlas serves produce-focused starters as well as hearty entrées like short rib.

A refined American restaurant with a growing wine list
The St. Regis Atlanta, 88 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 563-7900
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 425
Inventory 2,100
Wine strengths Wine director Michael Hanley’s list excels in France, Italy and California, with dozens of diverse verticals from top producers. The number of selections has more than doubled since 2017.
Cuisine The American menu draws inspiration from global cuisines for a contemporary edge. Chef Christopher Grossman sources ingredients from local farms for dishes like rack of lamb with romesco sauce, roasted corned short rib with grilled scallions and hot-smoked trout with potato mousse and smoked caviar cream.
Premium pours Among more than 70 selections by the glass, you’ll find exciting options like Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2005 and a nine-vintage vertical of Opus One.
Cross-country concepts Atlas is one of nine Restaurant Award winners in the Tavistock Restaurant Collection, including two Abe & Louie’s locations, Aquaknox in Las Vegas, Atlantic Fish Co. in Boston, Café Del Rey in Marina del Rey, Calif., Coach Grill in Wayland, Mass., Napa Valley Grille in Los Angeles and Zed451 in Chicago.

Andrea Behrends

Enjoy Barcelona Wine Bar’s extensive by-the-glass wine list at the bar.

Wine-centric Spanish dining
240 N. Highland Ave. N.E.
(404) 589-1010
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 485
Inventory 3,380
Wine strengths Run by wine director Gretchen Thomas, Barcelona Wine Bar’s list has a significant Spanish focus, rounded out by standout picks from Argentina, Chile and France. Organic, biodynamic and natural wines abound.
Sip and sample There are more than 40 wines by the glass, and each selection is available in either a 6-ounce or 3-ounce pour.
Nationwide name The wine-bar brand has 14 Best of Award of Excellence–winning outposts across the country. Atlanta’s other location has 485 selections too, with matching strengths in Spain, Argentina, Chile and France.
Cuisine While all Barcelona Wine Bars feature Spanish-tapas fare, each has its own chef that writes the menu nightly. At this outpost, chef James Burge creates plates like blistered okra with Calabrian chile and almonds, chorizo with sweet-and-sour figs, and spiced beef empanadas.


Bones serves a regional interpretation of steak-house fare in a cozy space.

A Southern-style steak house
3130 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 237-2663
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,300
Inventory 16,000
Wine strengths Bones’ extensive wine list spans the globe, excelling in California, Bordeaux, Italy, Burgundy and Australia. Value is a big priority for wine director Peter Apers, who ensures the program stays moderately priced with reasonable markups and hundreds of labels under $100.
Cuisine Chef Leonard Lewis puts a Southern spin on traditional steak-house dining, serving the shrimp cocktail with roulade sauce and offering side dishes for steaks such as grit fritters, collard greens and corn pudding.
Longstanding steak house Bones has been in business since 1979, and the restaurant has earned a Best of Award of Excellence every year since 1990.
Curated context The wine list is presented on an iPad through a customized software that lets guests browse the selections by variety, region, vintage and more. In addition to standard details, the digital list provides tasting notes, scores and information on the wineries.

James Camp

Canoe’s patio overlooks a beautifully manicured lawn on the shores of the Chattahoochee River.

Riverside wine and dining
4199 Paces Ferry Road S.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(770) 432-2663
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 400
Inventory 3,425
Wine strengths Overseen by wine director Jared Lorenz, the program excels in France as well as California, where you’ll find big-name producers like Screaming Eagle and Continuum.
Cuisine Chef Matt Basford incorporates Pan-Asian inspiration into his American cuisine. The result is plates like shiitake-crusted venison with udon noodles. Plus, to honor Basford’s Australian roots, there’s an appetizer of peppercorn-crusted kangaroo.
Natural backdrop Canoe is set on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Though it’s only about a 20-minute drive from downtown Atlanta, the restaurant feels peacefully secluded, surrounded by lush greenery with a large porch for outdoor dining. Lounge chairs are placed around the property, where guests can enjoy a drink with a side of scenery.
Vibrant venue The restaurant has multiple event spaces for booking, including a wine room decorated with prized bottles. Canoe also hosts its own outdoor live-music series.

Restaurant Eugene

Locally sourcing ingredients is a big priority at Restaurant Eugene.

Presenting a sense of place through food and wine
2277 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 355-0321
Open for dinner, Wednesday to Sunday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 400
Inventory 900
Cuisine The regional American menu changes daily based on what’s available from local artisans and farmers. Chef Chris Edwards treats the local ingredients with French techniques to craft dishes such as overnight pork belly, lacquered quail and a trio of beef with creamed shiitake and arugula.
From-scratch approach Restaurant Eugene creates as much of its ingredients in-house as possible, from sauces to basic pantry staples. It’s all part of the concept’s mission to showcase the bounty of local purveyors.
Wine strengths Wine director Alexandra Brashears is one of several sommeliers who can help guests peruse the eclectic list. France, California, Italy and Washington are the strongest regions in the program.
Strong by-the-glass selections Choose from more than 40 wines by the glass, including 13 high-end labels available by Coravin pour and priced by the ounce. These premium picks cover benchmark producers such as Trimbach and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Alexa Bendek

Starters at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails include this charred octopus dish.

Regional cooking and a global wine list
270 Peachtree St., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 524-7200
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 485
Inventory 3,275
Wine strengths Wine director Cindy LeBlanc offers a well-rounded, international wine list. The program shines in classic regions such as France (especially Burgundy), Italy, California and Spain, but Greece and Hungary are also represented.
Cuisine Ingredients like okra, Louisiana redfish and pork belly get a modern reboot from chef Megan Brent on the regional American menu. Even the side dishes are exciting, like cauliflower grits and wild mushroom étouffée and maple-roasted sunchokes.
Southern comfort The dining room reflects the menu’s contemporary Southern feel with white oak panels, exposed light fixtures and three custom chandeliers made from sugar maple from the Jack Daniels distillery.
Bar-centric space Under a round, wooden structure meant to look like a barrel, White Oak has a 360-degree bar made with Georgia marble. It’s an ideal spot for lingering over one of more than 30 wines by the glass.

City Winery Atlanta

City Winery Atlanta has an array of small and large plates to pair with the 360 wine selections.

Serious wines in a fun, casual setting
650 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 946-3791
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 360
Inventory 2,100
Interactive experience City Winery combines a music venue, restaurant and winery all under one roof. The brand has four other locations that hold Best of Awards of Excellence in New York, Chicago, Nashville and Boston.
Wine strengths Managed by wine director JR Smith, the program is strongest in France, California and Italy. Grape varieties are listed with each selection for an easy-to-navigate, approachable format. Various house wines are served on-tap from the on-site winery, which you can visit by booking a tour through City Winery’s website.
Special section A “reserve” page lists a handful of higher-end bottles to accompany the otherwise moderately-priced selections. Offerings rotate but have included labels such as Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford GIII Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard 2007 ($900) and a magnum of Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 1992 ($760).
Cuisine Chef Mario Manzini executes City Winery’s signature menu of regional American dishes like deviled eggs with turmeric aioli, pork chop Milanese and braised duck tacos.

Andrew Thomas Lee

Chef and restaurateur Ford Fry’s Atlanta empire includes Award of Excellence winner St. Cecilia.

Mediterranean coast–inspired dining
3455 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 554-9995
Open for lunch, Sunday to Friday and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 260
Inventory 1,500
Wine strengths The moderately-priced list is strongest in Italy, France and California, covering benchmark producers from Albert Bichot and R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia to Ruinart and Opus One.
Informative format Wine director Eduardo Porto Carreiro fills the list with helpful information. Each selection is accompanied by the grape varieties, a tasting note and a brief description of the bottling.
Cuisine The Italian-leaning European fare from chef Damon Wise brings the feel of coastal Mediterranean dining to the landlocked city. Pastas and seafood shine on the menu, which offers plates such as squid-ink spaghetti and a lobster and clam pan roast.
Ford Fry family St. Cecilia is one of four Award of Excellence winners in Atlanta from local chef and restaurateur Ford Fry. The group includes American concepts King + Duke and State of Grace, and the French steak house, Marcel.

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Restaurant Spotlight: N5 Wine Bar (Wine Spectator)

Husband-and-wife team Thomas and Anne Cabrol opened N5 Wine Bar in Toulouse, France, in 2013. The restaurant quickly made a name for itself with a wine list that’s lengthy yet thoughtful, earning Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence in 2015. The 3,600-selection, moderately priced list includes an impressive 500 wines by the glass. The program represents regions around the world but focuses on France, where picks are particularly strong in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône, the Loire and Languedoc-Roussillon. Thomas oversees the beverage program while Anne serves as chef, and their synergy is evident in the wine-friendly menu of small plates. Several pairings are available, from a 3-glass option for $23 to a 5-glass premium option for $114. In addition to meat- and fish-centric plates, N5 Wine Bar has extensive vegetarian options such as tomatoes with lemon-basil sorbet, gnocchi with mushrooms and a pea tart. It’s all presented in a cozy space with plenty of bottles on display.

Turning Tables: Another Daniel’s Broiler Opens in Seattle; New York’s Ai Fiori Welcomes New Wine Director (Wine Spectator)

Daniel’s Broiler Opens in Downtown Seattle

Daniel’s Broiler is now open in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Seattle. It’s the largest location of the Schwartz Brothers steak house, which has two Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winners in Washington, one in Bellevue and another in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Both wine lists offer strengths in Washington, California, Oregon and France.

Overseen by Schwartz corporate wine director and general manager Victoria Antilla, the wine list at the new location features 355 selections, including 22 available by the glass and two dozen half-bottles. It shares a focus on domestic and French labels with its two sister outposts, with plenty of big-name labels such as Screaming Eagle, Leonetti and Château Margaux. Antilla hopes to grow and expand the selections over time, which will be driven by guest demand. “I’m really hoping that we do sell a better representation of wines around the world so we can have more of an international balance to the list,” she said. The restaurant serves classic steak-house fare, but like its other locations, there is a “plant-based menu” of meatless options.

New York’s Ai Fiori Names New Wine Director

Courtesy of Ai Fiori; Evan Sung

Mariarosa Tartaglione brings Italian know-how to Ai Fiori.

Grand Award winner Ai Fiori in New York has a new wine director, Mariarosa Tartaglione, who came from inside the Altamarea Group family. She joined the Ai Fiori team Jan. 1 after serving as head sommelier at Marea, where she worked with the Best of Award of Excellence–winning program under wine director Francesco Grosso. She replaces Alessandro Piliego.

Born in south-central Italy, Tartaglione brings years of fine-dining experience and “immense” Italian wine knowledge to Ai Fiori, according to corporate beverage director Hristo Zisovski. Zisovski doesn’t foresee any major changes to the list, though he expects Tartaglione to further bolster its Italian selections, which are already the program’s biggest strength.

Wine Dive Brothers Open Vora in Kansas

On Jan. 7, brothers and co-owners Brad and Brent Steven will open Vora in Wichita, Kan. The new concept is located just blocks from their Best of Award of Excellence winner Wine Dive, which has another Best of Award of Excellence–winning outpost in Manhattan, Kan.

Inspired by Brad’s travels, Vora will have more of a European focus than the Wine Dive restaurants. The space is bright and airy, with a large patio and private dining spaces for up to 50 guests. Milan-born chef Giovanni D’Angelo will serve a diverse menu of Italian and French dishes, with some influence from countries like Germany, Spain and Austria. Items will range from wood-fired pizzas to classic steak au poivre with Cognac sauce.

The wine program, overseen by Brad, will be more focused than the eclectic Wine Dive lists, offering about 125 labels with 25 available by the glass. It will highlight Italy and France, especially regions like Piedmont and Burgundy, and feature plenty of refreshing, high-acid wines. “Not so much the over-the-top, ripe, high-alcohol wines,” Brad told Wine Spectator. “We want these wines to really complement the food.”

Now Closed: BLT Prime in New York

BLT Prime’s New York location closed Dec. 21 after 13 years in business. The outpost held a Best of Award of Excellence for its 500-selection wine list with strengths in California, France (especially Burgundy) and Italy. A statement from ESquared Hospitality cites “ongoing construction” nearby and “the prohibitive costs of rising New York City rent” as reasons for the closure.

ESquared Hospitality owns 11 Restaurant Award winners across the country, including the Award of Excellence–winning BLT Prime in Doral, Fla.

Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at WSRestoAwards and on Instagram at wsrestaurantawards.