BMW Magazine Fall 2011 -
Vincenzo Cacciatore wasn’t especially eager to become an accountant, financial advisor or stockbroker when he completed his education in economics and finance at Concordia University about 15 years ago. He had wholeheartedly adopted his father’s belief that education, including graduation, was a priority. But his respect and admiration for his father—a well-educated Sicilian who came here with a desire to continue his education, but whose life took a detour into the restaurant business—had the most profound effect on him. Vincenzo, along with his brother Pietro, both went on to become restaurateurs. When the young owner of Tenuta restaurant in Lachenaie—the winner of three Wine Spectator awards in its first four years in operation—speaks with such obvious pride about his father, many things become clear right away. “He was a role model. When I was younger, when we were living near Chicago, the whole family would get in the car on Sundays and my father would drive around scouting out good restaurant locations. I watched him closely… I was fascinated. I liked his style, his way of doing business, his commitment to serving reasonably priced, quality food to a family clientele. When I finished university, I told him that what I wanted most was to work with him,” he recalls. Papa Cacciatore passed away a few years ago.
At 34, Vincenzo says he’s as proud as ever to be serving pizza and pasta to his Montreal North Shore customers in the three family restaurants he owns. But that kind of restaurant isn’t really the right place to pursue—and share—his passion for fine wine. “At home, when I was very young, my father would serve us a little wine with dinner. He had good taste and bought all his wine. We were never into making our own, but sometimes friends would bring over a bottle of their homemade wine and ask us to try it, and I was never really impressed. Maybe my tastes were already relatively refined. I appreciate wine for the way it enhances a meal. I enjoy it with food, and it has to be worthy of the food on the table. That’s the basic philosophy behind Tenuta,” he explains.
Of course, he was already an experienced taster when he opened the chic resto in Lachenaie and assembled its 250-wine, 3,000-bottle wine cellar. About a decade ago, Vincenzo attended the first three levels of the SAQ’s series of wine-tasting courses. “I never set out to become a sommelier, but I learned what I needed to be able to appreciate fine wine and to understand why one bottle sells for $25 and another costs $75. Reputation comes into play, but the price is still a good guideline. When you’re assembling a wellbalanced restaurant cellar, it’s an important consideration. Since taking those courses, I’ve kept on reading, talking to people and regularly tasting new wines. Good reviews and high scores always pique my curiosity.” And what does he like? Reds top the list, particularly from Italy; Piemonte and Tuscany, to be more precise. When it comes to traditional wines, Barolo and Brunello are right up there.
As for more modern styles, he’s on board with many connoisseurs of his generation in having a fondness for Super Tuscans. “The story of the growers who started planting foreign grape varieties in Tuscany is a fascinating one. Their wines are superb. The same thing is going on in Sicily right now, with intriguing results. The Tuscans had success with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot alongside the local Sangiovese, and the Sicilians are getting better and better at working with those same imported varieties together with their traditional Nero d’Avola.” And of course, in addition to its many Italian treasures, his restaurant’s cellar has an excellent selection of French, Spanish and New World wines.