Uncorked: Stefano Bartolomei

Stefano Bartolomei was born in Umbria, the “Green Heart of Italy” and after studying winemaking at the University of Perugia, moved to Piedmont to continue with a Masters in Viticultural and Oenological Science. In 2011, he set up his own restaurant management consultancy and was persuaded by one of his clients to move to Hong Kong last year and work with Shane Osborn on the opening of his solo venture, Arcane where he is now restaurant manager and wine director. Bartolomei speaks to dbHK about his beloved Umbria and the wonder of his mother’s home cooking.

Stefano BartolomeiWhat vintage are you?

1983.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?
Barolo is my favourite wine, as it expresses extreme elegance joined to a very refined structure, but my secret love is Sagrantino from Montefalco and particularly the vintage 2008 from Antonelli Winery, my favourite and my first experience as a winemaker, as I grew up with the flavours and the powerfulness of that very naughty grape!

What would you be as a wine?

I think the wine which could represent me best is actually Barolo..that is also why it’s my favourite!

Where are you happiest?
I am very happy staying in Hong Kong above all for the opportunity I have to work in very positive synergy with Shane.  The place I really feel at home is Umbria, a real paradise for food and wine lovers, full of culture and natural landscapes.

What’s your greatest vice?
Honestly I am a great eater! That is the greatest vice I have and food is something I cannot say no to. I like trying all kinds of cuisine, but my mum’s cooking remains the best! PS: Don’t tell Shane!

Best advice you ever received?

The most useful advice has been given by one of my previous general managers, Michael Njidem: “Kindness and common sense together with the roles” and I think that is the main concept every hospitality professional should keep in mind.

Most overused word?

”Thank you.”

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?

The one I produced for my first degree. In fact, when I was at the University of Perugia, I kept some of the wine from my first harvest and I bottled it as a gift for all the people present at my graduation. It is a great punchy Sagrantino!

What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business?

I think the best thing about wine is that you never finish learning, and that is because of different vinification techniques, thousands of grape varieties, influence of soil, harvest time and weather, latitude, etc.

The worst thing in my opinion is the strong speculation around this world. The producers of wine usually get the minor part of the earning on sales, while the biggest slice of this cake is taken by the distributors.

What’s on your wine bucket list?
Rather than having a particular wine, I really would like to manage a vineyard with a manor house and produce wines according to my own philosophy. I have yet to do it, but never say never!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

If I will be drinking my favourite wines, I would invite a lot of colleagues who I have worked with in vineyards and some of my university professors, as I like drinking with people who are able to appreciate and critique wine.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)

At the moment it would be 90. I am happy, I have a wonderful family, I love my job and everything is going to the right direction.  But I always think that also the best can be improved!

Which wine would you like served at your funeral?

I actually never thought about it, but most probably I will ask my beloveds to serve Champagne or Franciacorta, as sparkling wine is usually associated with celebration and happiness. I don’t like to see people I love crying, and this can be a way to alleviate their suffering!

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