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A Visit with Bona Frescobaldi, Laudemio Frescobaldi

Bona Frescobaldi is a member of storied Frescobaldi family, whose history in Tuscany dates back over 1000 years and 30 generations, and whose wine estates are world-renowned. She serves as a global ambassador for the family to strengthen international relations. Frescobaldi has made it her life’s mission to support and preserve the art and culture of Tuscany, as well as its agricultural bounty, especially wine and olive oil.

Marchesa Bona Frescobaldi

In 1986, the family created the Laudemio Consortium, the first private Italian institution fully dedicated to expressing the art and terroir of Tuscan olive oil. The family has more than 300 hectares (750 acres) of olive groves and has been harvesting olives and producing olive oil since the 1300s. It wasn’t until 1989 when they produced their first harvest of Laudemio extra-virgin olive oil, a special cru representing the highest expression of terroir and quality.” In the Middle Ages, Laudemio was the name of the best part of the harvest, reserved for the “lord’s table.”

Much like picking grapes, harvesting olives takes place during a carefully monitored window of time in October to capture both the olives’ green color and fresh flavors. The olives are then pressed right after picking within 24 hours in a proprietary mill to ensure the ideal acidic composition and aromatic profile and optimum nutrients in the oil. Frescobaldi manages 100 percent of the entire production process, from plant-picking to packaging to maintain quality control.

Laudemio’s prestigious reputation even has a royal audience. During our conversation, Frescobaldi shared that HRH Prince Charles of Great Britain is a fan of Frescobaldi Laudemio extra-virgin olive oil drizzled over toast. She sends him bottles for his birthday.

 

In addition to her work in wine and olive oil, Frescobaldi is a member of the Friends of Florence, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring Florentine artifacts; a cofounder of the Committee of the Friends of La Pietra, an association of New York University, whose goal is to maintain and improve relations between Florence and New York. She is also active in numerous civic and social causes around both the arts and women’s health.

What we tasted:

Laudemio Frescobaldi 2018 extra-virgin olive oil, a 30th anniversary special edition packaged in golden bottle that resembles a fine perfume. The olive oil has deep fruit and earthy aromas and flavors with a spicy finish and a deep emerald olive hue Just a few drops drizzled over crusty bread, salad, pasta or chicken is all you need. We even tried it drizzled in plain Greek yogurt for breakfast!

Listen to our SIPS podcast with Bona Frescobaldi on iHeart/iHeart App. Click here:

 

 

 

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Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto, Chianti Classico

We met the lovely Laura Bianchi last July when she came to New York to present a vertical tasting of Castello di Monsanto‘s iconic Il Poggio Chianti Classico Cru dating back to the 1960s. This wine is only made in the best vintages using only estate grown fruit, and hand-picked grapes, Monsanto owns the largest reserves of Chianti Classico in Tuscany, and it was the first winery in the region to make a Chianti Classico Cru.

Castello di Monsanto was started by Laura’s grandfather, Aldo Bianchi, a native of San Gimignano, who left Tuscany before the Second World War to seek fortune in the North of Italy. In 1960, he came back to the area for a wedding and was enchanted by the view from the terrace of Castello di Monsanto, encompassing the Val d’Elsa with the backdrop of the Towers of San Gimignano.

He purchased the property within a few months. But if Aldo was bewitched by the landscape, Fabrizio, his son, immediately fell in love with the wines he found in the cellar. Thanks to a passion for wine handed down to him by his grandmother, who came from Piedmont, and to an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Fabrizio, together with his wife Giuliana, started to plant new vineyards and convert the numerous farmhouses. Today, Castello di Monsanto remains a family owned and operated company, overseen by Fabrizio and daughter, Laura.

Laura studied law and brefly worked in law before joining the family business where she works side by side with her father. She unwinds by practicing yoga.


Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto


Bottles of Il Poggio from our tasting

Listen to our interview with Laura Bianchi December 20tth now on iHeart. Click below.

 

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Marathon Woman: Banfi Vintners’ Cristina Mariani-May

Over the years, the name Banfi has become one of the top names when talking about Italian wines. Yet, Banfi Vintners, founded in 1919 by John Mariani, and now run by third generation family members Cristina Mariani-May and her cousin James, is actually an American company, started right in New York City. So how did a little NY importing company that had the misfortune of starting a wine importing business a year before Prohibition (it survived, of course) grow to become one of the true icons in the world of wine?

Cristina Mariani-May
Cristina Mariani- May juggles overseeing Banfi’s extensive holdings, making appearances, motherhood and running marathons with skill.

Well, somewhere in the second half of the last century, second generation owners Harry and John Jr. hit on an idea for bringing in a slightly sweet refreshing little wine made from the Lambrusco grape called Riunite, which so beguiled U.S consumers that it launched Banfi to the top of the wine importation game and cemented its place in the wine world unlike any other wine had in the past. “Riunite on ice, that’s nice.” We all know the slogan.

And it was the success of that wine which allowed the Mariani brothers to purchase a dilapidated winery property in Tuscany, outside the fairly unknown town of Montalcino in the 1970’s called Poggio Alle Mura, which they renovated and turned into Castello Banfi, now one of the wine making jewels of not just Brunello di Montalcino, the famous wine from the hillsides surrounding the town where Castello Banfi is situated, but all of Tuscany.

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The majestic Castello Banfi in Montalcino

Over the years Banfi vintners has expanded its reach to other parts of Italy, and their Italian portfolio is unmatched in that country’s wine making circles. But Banfi has also branched out into South America, and the United States, with their Exelsior Wine Company, a partnership with Chilean powerhouse producer Concha y Toro to import Chilean and Argentine wines to the U.S., ands also market a handful of California wines in the marketplace. The most recent endeavor of Banfi Vintners has been a reach into Washington State and Oregon, two of this country’s biggest new production regions.

We can’t wait to talk shop with Co-CEO Cristina Mariani-May on Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 2:00pm ET to find out more about her amazing family’s wines, legacy, and future.

Connect

www.Banfiwines.com

www.castellobanfi.com

Twitter@banfiwines

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Follow us on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable
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The Connected Table LIVE Visits with Joanna Pruess and Riccardo illy March 4

During this particularly harsh winter one dish has sustained us….soup. We’ve raided our larder and pantry to create different soups when we can’t leave our icy driveway. Our go-to book has been Joanna Pruess‘ recently published Soup for Two: Small-Batch Recipes for One, Two, or a Few. The recipes are easy enough for Melanie with plenty of vegetarian options and substantial enough for David. Somehow we’ve managed to stretch several of Joanna’s “soup for two” recipes into “soup for two days” by adding more ingredients to a base recipe.

Joanna Pruess
Joanna Pruess

 

Joanna Pruess is an award-winning food and travel writer who has written extensively for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Saveur, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, PBS’ online magazine: NextAvenue.org, and the Associated Press.  She is a regular contributor to Specialty Foods Magazine where she develops recipes for gourmet retailers and fine markets across the country, and writes a column about discovering a country’s culture through its cuisine. She also develops recipes for the some of the nation’s top gourmet product manufacturers.

Soup fpr TwoShe’s written and published 14 cookbooks. In addition to the aforementioned Soup for Two,  some of Joanna’s other books include; Dos Caminos’ Tacos (with Ivy Stark); The Tea Cookbook; The Cast-Iron Cookbook; and Seduced by Bacon: Recipes and Lore about America’s Favorite Indulgence. And then there’s Seduced by Bacon which has captured David’s fancy.

She created and was the first director of the Cookingstudio, a cooking school within Kings Super Market, in New Jersey, where she had more than 15,000 students in five years. Among her classes were special programs for the visually and hearing-impaired, the learning disabled, as well as historical dinners.

Joanna has also lectured about food and cultural anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., onboard the Crystal Cruises, throughout the U.S., and in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey.  When we were planning our “bucket list” trip to Morocco in 2012, Joanna invited us over to her NYC apartment and shared all her culinary side trips and must-visits from her own excursion.

Connect:

https://twitter.com/joannapruess

https://www.facebook.com/joanna.pruess

 

The other liquids that have helped us maintain both our senses and our sense of humor this winter are hot cups of coffee or espresso and plenty of good wine. Any color or varietal will do depending on the meal we cook, but we are especially partial to a nice Brunello di Montalcino.

Riccardi illy, Chairman, Gruppo illy, S.P.A. Photo credit: biografieonline.it
Riccardo illy, Chairman, Gruppo illy S.p.A.

 

Riccardo illy, Chairman of Gruppo illy S.p.A. will join us live from his home in Trieste to discuss his role at the helm of his family’s company as part of our Families in the Business series.

Ricardo’s grandfather, Francesco illy, founded the business in 1933 starting with coffee and chocolate. Back then illy had a farm in Istria near Trieste.  After World War II this part of Italy became Yugoslavia. The real estate was nationalized, and the farm was lost. Francesco illy decided to focus on coffee.

Under Riccardo’s father, the late Ernesto illy, the company introduced illy tea. After 20 years, production of illy tea was discontinued, and the focus remained coffee. Today, illy coffee is enjoyed in 140 countries around the world in restaurants, at home and in more than 200 espressamente illy coffee bar locations.

The illy  family remains deeply involved in company leadership. Riccardo joined the family firm in 1977 working his way through marketing, sales and upper management positions. He was named Managing Director in 1992, Vice President in 1995 and Chairman of Gruppo illy in 2004, a position he has held since.

Under Riccardo’s direction, illy has expanded back into food as well as wine through acquisitions that include chocolate (Domori) tea (Dammann Frères), fruit preserves and confections (Agrimontana) and wine (Mastrojanni). The latter is an acclaimed Brunello di Montalcino started by the Mastrojanni family in the late 1970s and acquired by the illy family in 2008.

In addition to working within his family business, Riccardo has been active in many other areas of business, community and politics in Italy, as well as serving as a journalist and writing books. He has received numerous honors for his community service.

Connect:

 http://www.illy.com/

https://twitter.com/illyUSA

https://www.facebook.com/illy

https://instagram.com/illy_coffee/

 

THE CONNECTED TABLE BANNER WITH TIMESJoin Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11 am PT on the Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple profiles the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality, Listen live at www.W4CY.com and on demand any time at iHeart.com (under Shows & Personalities). Have questions about our show or want to us to ask a question to one of our guests? Please email: melanie@www.theconnectedtable.com

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Listen to Melanie Young interview inspiring women and expects on health, nutrition and wellness Mondays, 9pm ET on sister station W4WN.com

You can also listen to Melanie Mondays, 9pm ET/6pm PT on Fearless Fabulous You!, her inspiring show for and about women, on W4CY’s sister station W4WN- the Women for Women Network, and on demand any time at iHeart.com