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Vegas’s Vino-Venture I Valentino GM Giorgio Ferrero’s mantra is simple: “Love, passion and good wine will always make a perfect dinner.” nero d’avola: the new Black GM Giorgio Ferrero contributed these notes to our Great Italian Write-Off. See the opposite page for details on how you can enter. Fashion report: Villa Pozzi Nero d’Avola by Giorgio Ferrero, General Manager, Valentino Las Vegas Named with the Italian word for black, Nero d’Avola (from the town of Avola, on the southern tip of Sicily) is a fashionably dark grape. Style: Deep ruby color with a reddish-violet edge typical of this grape, with a taste of black plums, a hint of licorice and subtle spice; not overly complex but appealing; well structured by tart acidity and soft but distinct tannins, showcasing lush fruit with style and an Old World rustic fi nesse. Glamor: Made in a more refi ned style, it shows up well against red meat, pork chops pan-roasted with garlic or sausage, lasagna and even better with strong fl avors like spin- ach and gorgonzola ravioli, lamb or roast duck. The fl avors are consistent with the aromas on the nose. VALENTINO AT THE VENETIAN VAUNTS VINOUS VIRTUES by Rachel Burkons / photos by Ronda Churchill f you know Italian cuisine in the United States, you know Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino Restaurant Group. Its Santa Monica, CA fl agship, Valentino, is one of the nation’s preeminent sources for impeccable Italian cuisine and incredible wine selections. These days, the spotlight is also shining on the original’s sister restaurant, aptly named Valentino Las Vegas, a beautifully sleek dining room housed in exceptional resort The Venetian. There, a talented team of Italian expats runs the show, including James Beard Award–winning chef Luciano Pellegrini, who produces authentic fare, and General Manager Giorgio Ferrero, with his keen eye for paired perfec- tion—especially as it pertains to the venue’s wine list. “The fi rst statement we make with our wine list is that the wine must naturally complement the food. If you want to match the great food, you need great wine,” explains Ferrero of the program’s philosophy. “Wine is something very special. The love you put into the wine gives the wine a different taste, a different structure, a different fl ower. In Italy, we say, ‘The wine is the blood of God.’ It comes by man, but it is the blood of God, made with so much work and so much love.” It is with this in mind that Ferrero focuses his wine list, and as such, chooses producers from Italy whose name, quality and, yes, love, he trusts can stand toe-to-toe with Valentino’s famed fare. “Barone Fini, Lionello Marchesi and Villa Pozzi are three very good producers,” he explains, proud to carry wines that he considers top-notch from each of the three wineries. “Barone Fini is doing a great job with Pinot Grigio; the quality of Pinot Grigio coming from the Fini family is just completely dif- ferent—it’s blowing up,” he laughs, before suggesting a pairing of Barone Fini Pinot Grigio with branzino. Ferrero’s also fond of Lionello Marchesi’s offerings, particularly the Merlot and Cab expressions. “It is not easy to make good wines in Northern Italy,” admits the Torino, Italy native, who describes his upbringing as “country.” “But their Cab is one of the best I’ve had from Northern Italy.” It’s the south, however, that’s really piquing his interest these days, particularly the Nero d’Avola bottling from Villa Pozzi. “This Nero d’Avola has something special; it’s what you expect from Sicilian wine, but also with a touch of mystery that makes it so that every time I taste it, every time I smell the wine, it brings the sensation of being there,” attests Ferrero. “The Nero d’Avola is the Supertuscan of Sicily, and I want people to understand that,” he continues. Introducing his customers to new varietals such as Nero d’Avola is of primary importance to Ferrero, who is proud to boast classic Italian wines on his list, but is eager to assert that there’s so much more for his customers to learn. “We push Pinot Grigio and Chianti so hard that we make it easy for Americans to believe we don’t do anything else in Italy,” he admits. “But people are open to trying something different, especially when eating our food because drinking wine is not just an action—it is a sensation.” december 2010 / the tasting panel / 111

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