Vigneto Communications. In addition she blogs at Avvinare, named for the Italian verb that means rinsing your glass and preparing it for wine service.
I first met Susannah during the Snooth PVA Awards weekend two years ago in Manhattan. We didn't spend a lot of time together, though I apparently got too loud during the Ribera del Duero presentation while we were arguing about kosher wine and there was a memorable moment with a Brazilian Tannat at the Saturday night party. I was a little overwhelmed during that trip, but have developed a lot of great friendships and professional relationships with many of the people I met that weekend, and since then it's been great to get to know Susannah better and learn about her fascinating history.
BWR: Tell me a bit about working as a financial reporter in Italy. If you were in Milan in December 1996, we may have briefly crossed paths
near the Duomo or Galleria.
Susannah: I was in Milan in December 1996 in fact, a period of time I remember very well. I lived in Milan for 10 years and was a reporter for 4 of those years. I loved being a reporter in Italy because I am very interested in Italian politics and economics. It’s a very complicated country in many respects and there are so many layers of it to understand and analyze. Everything about Italy interests me, truth to tell.
BWR: Everyone that I know who has spent some time in Italy has a magical
food moment, something that clicked and let you know that you weren't
in Kansas anymore. Hot crespelle in a café, seared octopus on the
Ligurian coast, or even a few roasted chestnuts from a street vendor.
Did you have such a transformative experience?
Susannah: I have had many food moments in Italy that have been outstanding, starting from my first pizza on a side “street” in Venice overlooking one of the canals when I was 15 and with my parents but my real ah moment was when I was 20, living in Dijon, France and visiting Italy with my Mother, a sculptor and Art Historian by trade. I fell asleep in the train and when I woke up I was looking out at the Borromean islands rising in the mist from Lago Maggiore. That was the beginning of my real love affair with il bel paese.
BWR: We talked a bit about biodynamics in NYC with fruit days, but I'm
curious to hear your four favorite seasonal wines, what you crave in
spring, summer, fall, winter.
Susannah: Yes we did have that conversation about the biodynamic calendar. In the Spring I tend to crave white wines or a good French or Spanish rosé while in the Summer, Vermentino is always a favorite as is sparkling wine which I crave and drink all year long. Fall I like to drink wines with more body that pair with great fall foods like pumpkin, squash, turkey, etc. In winter, I am interested in a heavier red largely to pair with meat dishes or root vegetable ones. Again, sparkling wines are a passion in winter too. I also really like a touch of sweet wines throughout the year.
BWR: Was wine a part of your family dinner table growing up? If so,
what was poured and what did you like?
Susannah: Wine was part of my family life growing up. I don’t remember when we started but during that trip as a 15 year old, I was most certainly already interested in wine. My Dad made wine in the basement of our house with our next-door neighbor who was Sicilian. He also once bought the contents of a liquor store that he owned as a real estate investment. We drank Louis Jadot, Ruffino, Chianti, Macon Village. I also remember a lot of Lancers and Mateus in the house. I liked it all if memory serves.
BWR: What is the one bottle or the one region that you've always wanted
to try but have not yet had the opportunity?
Susannah: There are so many regions I would love to visit that I haven’t yet, in many countries, but if I had to pick one, it would be Pantelleria and the night harvests at Donna Fugata. I love Ben Rye that they make there and that is an experience that I haven’t yet had. I would also love to visit Salina again and see the CapoFaro resort of Tasca d’Almerita
BWR: Congratulations on the birth of Niccolò! A dear friend of mine
recently had a baby and I was wondering if you experienced any changes
of sense of smell while pregnant--a lot of experiencing wine involves
training your nose with non-wine items: sniffing lime peels and
jasmine blossoms and things like that. Has anything changed in what
appeals to you, or what you can now discover in a glass
Susannah: During my pregnancy I was very good about alcohol of course but you are right you have a heightened sense of smell and can really pick out aromas that you might not have otherwise. When I was pregnant the wine I missed most and that appealed to me during that time was sparkling wine. I’ve always had a predilection but it was even more pronounced during pregnancy.
BWR: I'm also curious how you plan to introduce your son to wine, since
it will be part of the family business. When he's old enough to start
having a sip with dinner, what would you like for him to try first?
Are you planning on setting aside anything like Madeira or Barolo for
the long haul?
Susannah: I imagine like most novice drinkers, he will probably appreciate something with a bit of sweetness like a moscato. I am thinking a lot about what I want to lay down for him. I have also toyed with the idea of buying futures from this vintage, 2014. Madeira is a good idea as is Barolo.
Many thanks to Susannah for participating in this interview series. You can follow her at Avvinare.