I was born in the countryside of Brazil. One aspect of that era that has since been of great importance in my life, is the attention to food. Harmony was very important and I learned very soon which products were combined to create our daily meals and why. I learned as a child, the importance of each vegetable, grain, meat, and herb utilized in our kitchen, and how that was linked to the special way it was produced. It was with pride that my father would explain this to us at the dining table. He sourced the cornmeal used to make the polenta we ate everyday as well as the wilted chicory that balanced the meal of local pork ribs. There was always a name behind each product, “Mr. Silva had the best cornmeal because he was able to get the best corn and even more important was his watermill stone grinder that creates the right texture. Mrs. Oliveira planted her chicory in an area of the garden that gave it that special size and flavor.” My father was very proud of how he sourced the best products seasonally too. This was food that came from somewhere, grown by someone who loved it. I ate varied, creative and simply delicious home cooking while growing up.
Moving from home at the beginning of the eighties, wine entered my life through food. I was caught in the exciting working world of the famous chefs that helped shape the American culinary and gastronomic landscape. I worked the dining rooms, full of famous and not-so famous patrons, where tasting menus set the tables and wine was being poured lavishly. These were famous labels of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Napa. Big checks, big tips, long days, lunch and dinner, attention to each detail, the art of anticipating a customer’s wish…this was my world, my schooling. It was where I learned the art of professionalism and courteous service. It is where I saw that food and wine could attain a higher expression is produced with artisan care. And I discovered the same appreciation for the source and care of the products the restaurants used, that my family had before.
Two decades went by with much hard work, but fortunately with many escapes to Paris and to the French wine country. Those excursions provided a new understanding of the wines I was working with and broadened my wine appreciation more for what was in the bottle, giving me the opportunity to go beyond labels and brands. My focus moved to unknown small growers and in many ways unknown regions, just for the pleasure of discovery. I did not foresee then, being an importer today, nor that I would remain enamored with the small vigneron.
My travels have since taken me beyond France; to Italy, Austria, Portugal, Spain and to Germany. The wine world has changed greatly since my beginnings, with a pendulum swing from big point wines to small organic bottlings. My palate has evolved too but increasing towards appreciating more natural wines, wines with curiosity, nerve and uniqueness. I am addicted to finesse and grace and concentration that seeps through a less extracted and weighty wine. These wines are my selections and there is more out there to discover!