Wild River Review
Wild River Review
Connecting People, Places, and Ideas: Story by Story
May 2010
Open Borders

January 9, 2012

The Five Questions-Natalie West, Foppiano Wines

One of my first wine drinking memories- of California wine that is- surrounds a bottle of Foppiano.  I remember being in private school- at Morristown-Beard in New Jersey.  There were many kids like myself- their parents had incredible wine cellars and we were all encouraged to taste wine with dinner or by itself.

This was the 1970’s, things were a bit freer then.

I was raised around fine wine and artisan food, for those who don’t know me, I grew up on a gentleman’s farm that belonged to my grandparents and partially my parents.  Today, this farm is certified Organic and Biodynamic.

At that time in the 1960’s and 70’s most European food that we came across on our journey was artisan in nature.  Travel for Americans was always popular, sure-  yet regional cuisine flourished unhindered until the explosion of fast food and faster tastes that came with Americans visiting Europe.

I traveled through most of Europe, the Ivory Coast of Africa and some of Brazil with my parents in the 60’s and 70’s.  I was never was denied the fruit of the grape, nor beer, nor the local spirits.  Was this good? Bad?  Who knows.  Sure makes for a good story.

As memory serves me the first California wine that I remember drinking with my friends, at a party was a Foppiano Petite Sirah.   This wine, in my palate’s memory will always be with me.  It was just different than the French wines that graced our dinner table.

The Foppiano wine was explosive in the glass and it woke up my young sensibilities.  The only wines I knew at this point were from Europe- and they were pretty good in my memory…

With all the brands of interesting wines available to my young palate- most were French, so when I tasted something so unfamiliar to me- I had to take notice!

Fast forward to present day.

I go back to California for wine on Twitter.  Some of my friends are in the wine biz.  Still others would like to read more of my “serious” wine writing.

I used to only write about travel, then food, then wine… Now, cocktails but who knows? One thing is for certain- I love the wines of Foppiano.  They taste authentic.  Not manipulated or forced.  There is passion in the depth of the flavors in the offerings.

Is there a difference in style between their wines?  I leave that for you to decide.  I know enough about wine not to assign a score (other than my personal opinion)  to anything.  Your palate should be your guide, not someone who is not you!

Natalie West

Until then, may I present Natalie West, Foppiano Wines.

WRR: 1. Where are you from? Who taught you to cook? Mother? Father? Grandparents? What are your earliest memories of food?

I am from Healdsburg, I have been here since I was four years old.

My mother taught me to cook.

My earliest memory of food goes back to when I was a kid. For as long as I can remember we were always very active with the grape harvest, we’d pick the grapes and would bring them to the winery. After a long hard day in the field, night  fall would come and we’d have a massive feast that had been prepared lovingly by my mom and aunts. Of course it was my dad who was in charge of barbecuing the chicken and steak. But what I remember most are the desserts, the most I’ve seen in my life. And, my favorite was the blueberry cheese cake that my mom would make. I am a total sugar person!

Natalie celebrating harvest

WRR: 2. What do you have in your freezer right now? Any cocktail ingredients in your fridge? Do you cure your own cherries?

What a great question. In my freezer right now I have frozen strawberries, tomato sauce, frozen green beans picked from my garden, Ben & Jerry’s Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler and Häagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream. Plus I always keep puff pastry around for an apple or a cherry tart or for something savory like a goat cheese, thyme and caramelized onion tart.

As for cocktail ingredients, I have a fairly well-stocked bar including Bombay Sapphire Gin, Bulleit Bourbon, a few brandies from Germain-Robain from the Redwood Valley, vermouth, dark rum and tequila—with which I am just getting reacquainted. I always keep on hand simple syrup, citrus, bitters, and olives. I store the alcohol in decanters because it looks pretty. Like serving wine in the proper glass, I am a big believer in doing the same with cocktails. For instance I have collection of mint julep cups that I absolutely adore.  I can’t imagine drinking one in anything else.

No, I do not cure my own cherries but I always have a stash of Amarena Italian wild cherries, which are absolutely perfect in an old fashioned or a Manhattan.

WRR: 3. Is there anything that you prepare (or eat) that brings a tear to your eye when you eat (or smell) it? Why? Who does this remind you of?

Aside from onions, Cioppino brings a tear to my eye, my mother makes it every year for my birthday.

Natalie in Cellar

WRR: 4. If you could be anywhere in the world at this very moment, where would that be and why?

Italy because of the great food, wine and beautiful landscape. It’s reminiscent of home but also different. And the people are so friendly. It is just a good all-around lovely place to be.

WRR: 5. Social media brought us together… (thank you!!!!) Do you use a Smart Phone? Twitter? (will need link) Facebook? (will need link) LinkedIN? Anything you want to say about the Real Time Internet and how it’s helped your career?

I have an iPhone, I do not Tweet and I am on Facebook and Linked-In. What I love about social media is the fact that you can reach more people, more palates, and get more opinions. I think it has really helped the wine industry. I know for me, I have gotten to know more colleagues throughout Napa and Sonoma and beyond.

WRR: 5.5. Tell us a little bit about your role at Foppiano

A lot of the reason I came to Foppiano is because I have total freedom to do what I think is best—no set recipe. I have been encouraged to continue to add to the wine program and try fun things like port, rose, and smaller bottles of petite sirah. I try to let the wine speak for itself, respect the fruit, and not intervene too much—I think this makes the best wine. During my tenure here, I have gotten close to my colleagues who really take pride in their work.

We have a good time.

Some days after work, we sit down and share a bottle of J Sparkling wine together.

Thank you Natalie for participating in the Five Questions!  wb

To support our mission and passion for good storytelling, please help support my work and make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here:  Wild River Donation.

Wild River Review/Wild Table editor, Warren Bobrow grew up on a Biodynamic farm in Morristown, NJ. A graduate of Emerson College in Boston- with a degree in Film, he spent his senior year of college as a research assistant in visual thinking. (Center for Advanced Visual Studies @ MIT)

To learn more about Warren, click here:  Wild River Review.

Please follow me on Twitter @WarrenBobrow1

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WILD TABLE – Billy Reid: Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore

Who owns the rights to work published in Wild River Review?

All work published in the pages of Wild River Review belongs to the magazine.

For print publication, please contact: info@wildriverreview.com

We welcome online links, but you must be fully credited with a link back to the Wild River Review website.

Warren is a cocktail blogger for Williams-Sonoma and also for Foodista.


Warren Bobrow’s interview with Food Business International 12/2011

Today’s fun!! click!

December 9, 2009

The Orchard in a bottle-Eau de Vie Tasting in the snow

tasting of several digestives in the snow

tasting of several digestives in the snow

Chartreuse and Digestives

Chartreuse and Digestives

Ffirst "real" snowstorm

first “real” snowstorm
snowy line-up.
snowy line-up.

France meets Firewater in the freshly fallen snow
By Warren Bobrow: Contributing Editor: Wild River Review
Growing up on a farm in New Jersey afforded me an upbringing that was rooted in a fruit orchard that dates back almost a century.  My governess, Gertrude (about whom I’ll write more in later posts), hailed from Germany.  She taught me to climb those gnarly fruit trees and attempt to pick the fruit that the birds had not yet devoured.  I would have to act quickly though and remember that I was competing with the unafraid blue jays who would seemingly dive-bomb me in competition for these fruits.  Eventually  I would repel these opportunistic birds long enough to bring down pears in a straw basket that I have to this day.

Gertrude would carefully wrap each of these pears in small paper bags for several days to  ripen them further. This was necessary because not all pears ripen at the same time.   Upon opening the bags the earthy and haunting aroma of these pears  still stick in my memory. I can close my eyes and  envision Gertrude smiling about the really juicy ones that I helped pick.
One of her pleasures was making fruit preserves and smaller quantities of pear brandies.  These Eaux de Vie of fire to the tongue possessing razor sharp fruit aromas were favorites of mine.  They were made from the tiny, almost inedible pears that dotted the perimeter of the orchard.  When cooked, these formerly hard to the tooth pears would reveal themselves to be sweet and gushing with the essence of fall.  When I walk in the woods today and see pear trees,  I want to climb them  to find that one perfect pear-the one to grace a glass of Eau de Vie.

Last night it snowed a few quick inches here in New Jersey.  I lit a fire in the wood burning stove, I smelled the high notes of burning oak  from where I sat surrounded by elixirs -  all from France.  With this aroma firmly in place in my mind’s eye, several Eaux de Vie needed to be tasted, savored and explained.

G.E. Massenez- Eau de Vie of Williams Pear. (Poire Willams) Tasting notes:
Sweet and tangy aromas of Pear skins and freshly cut hay, gives way to deeper heating finish. Crisp, uncomplicated and refreshing.  Think of the first time you smelled a tree-ripened pear.  Then add a slowly simmering pot of pear preserves- the alcohol lurking in the background suddenly jumping up and greeting your forehead and nose.  Marvelous stuff.  Pure and lightly thirst quenching.  Marvelous with Cave Aged Gruyere. Keep iced in the refrigerator at all times.  A real wake-up drink on a cold morning.
G.E. Massenez-Eau de Vie de Framboise. (tiny raspberries that taste like love) Ah, the Framboise. The power of this little berry catches me almost unknowingly of the energy contained within.  Sweet at first, then the nasal attack of piercing fire.  Just the thing after a hot mineral bath then a quick plunge into icy cold water.   Then quickly imbibe a ice cold hand blown glass of Framboise.  Always store in the fridge or better yet, your freezer next to the Chartreuse.

Serve with a dry towel… you will sweat.

Chartreuse is one of those “open the bottle and smell the place” type of mountain produced liqueur. It reminds me in many ways of the liqueur produced by a specific sect of monks in France- but this formula is not the commercial product that graces many liquor store shelves.  Packed in a wooden box with a hand numbered label, the VEP is made in extremely tiny quantities….
Chartreux VEP (Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé) is aged in oak for many years. The combination of over 130 medicinal plants, plus the balance of “taste the place” Terroir gives Chartreuse this unique flavor of high Alpine pastures and crisp, mineral mountain water. Of course, there is a liberal dash of thunder and fire on your fore-palate.
It is rare and very expensive, but a bottle may last a year or more, making it a bit less of a pinch to the wallet.  Creatively rich over mountain herb- scented gelato.

Wild River Review contributing editor, Warren Bobrow grew up on a farm in Morristown, NJ. A graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Film, he spent his senior year as a research assistant in visual thinking at CAVS / MIT. He worked for many years in the corporate world.

His column on food, wine and life, Wild Table appears daily in the online magazine, Wild River Review. In addition to Wild River Review, Warren writes for NJMYWay.com, NJ Monthly and SLOWFOODNNJ.org. He has upcoming work in Edible Jersey Magazine on the topic of Organic and Biodynamic Wine and upcoming submissions for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Ed., 2. February brings an article to NJ Savvy Living.  Please follow his moving about and drinkin’ ’round on Twitter @WarrenBobrow1

Trust your instincts and cook with passion!

You can support Warren’s work on Wild River Review, and his column, Wild Table by making a donation: Wild River Review, PO Box 53, Stockton, NJ 08559. Wild River Review is an international website and 501c3 non-profit organization so your donation may be tax deductible.
Please put Wild Bite in the subject line. Thank you!

out in the snow. The only place to drink Eau de Vie. Photo: Warren Bobrow

In the snow. The only place to drink Eau de Vie. All photographs: Warren Bobrow

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