MAY 2012

May 2012

May 31 Earthquke Kit

I got an email today from a friend asking if I had prepared an earthquake kit.  While the building was shaking a few days ago, I realized that there is nothing a person can do in that situation but stay calm and hope for the best.  In Kansas we had tornados (and lots of them) every spring.  We knew the drill: go to the northesast corner of the basement, etc.  But with an earthquake there is no safe place.

May 28 Villa Franciacorta Verticle Tasting (2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003,2002, 2001, 1998, 1983)

I take the train to Brescia and a nice chap picks me up takes me to the Villa estate (www.villafranciacorta.it).  Here are my notes on my favorite vintages (this selection does not mean that the other vintages were not good – but you and I both know that long lists of tasting notes about the same type of wine are tiresome to work through.  I prefer to share the highlights.):

2006 Villa Franciacorta Brut  Bright. Pale yellow, touch of gold. A very tight weave – white peach, floral notes and minerality merge into one smooth, shimmering bolt of flavor.  Creamy sensation on the nose and palate.

After 15 minutes: It still holds firm.

After 30 minutes: still fruity and pleasing.

After 35 minutes: surprising elegance. What an interesting wine.  The fact that it can keep its identity fresh after 35 minutes in the glass bodes well for the longevity of the wine.

2008 Villa Franciacorta Brut  Bright yellow-gold, clear rim. Freshness rises bringing with it a floral note (spring flowers). Light and lovely on the palate. Longish finish. Still young.

After 5 minutes: definite white peach notes emerge.

After 10 minutes: The fruit ripens on the nose.

After 20 minutes: It has settled into a broad, inviting wine. Over time it just keeps on expanding.

After 30 minutes: Still lush.

1998 Villa Franciacorta Brut  Bright, rich gold. Fresh uplifting – fresh hazelnuts notes dance around a column of floral and fruity notes.

After 10 minutes: the hazelnuts notes exert themselves – but in a pleasing way.

After 15 minutes: the wine narrows. Mature but still pleasing.

1983 Villa Franciacorta Brut  Gold. Bright. Surprising on the palate. Lively. Hazelnuts (usually an indication of maturity).

After 10 minutes: still fruity and appealing.

I hitch a ride back to Verona with a couple of wine salesmen and we have a fine time gossiping about Italian wine journalists.  They leave me at the bridge nearest my place (my street is closed to traffic) and I drift home on a sea of good will and Franciacorta.

May 16 Lorenzo S. “Mr. Suevie”

Lorenzo calls and we meet him at the bar in front of our building.  He has been organizing a big tasting of Recioto di Soave for the last few months and occasionally stops by to give us updates and run ideas by us.  The tasting looks set to take place in June.  Hooray. I also have a massive Amarone tasting in June.  Oh, yes and a wedding in San Gimignano.  I have visited that town once and vowed never to return….I get car sick.  On that fateful first trip the car arrived at the city walls after swerving and climbing and swerving some more.  I got out of the car and vomited my guts out. I sat for 3 hours nursing a single glass of sparkling water.  It was there that I learned about Travel Gum…I never go to Tuscany without a pack now.

May 13 Auntie Leo’s (a.k.a. Eleonella) Birthday dinner

2004 Isoe e Olena Cepparello Sangiovese. Lovely knubbly texture – elegantly unfolds on the palate.  Fruit: blackberries and mulberries, a snap of pleasing bitter cherries. Nose and palate are all of a piece. Very pleasing experience.

2006 Donnafugata Mille una Notte (Grape variety: Nero d’Avola). Nice weave of flavors:  wild blueberries, blackberries. There is a pleasing touch of tobacco and a snap of tar.

Durello from Fongaro (purple lable) . Fresh, crisp tart apples – yet creamy texture.

2008 Donnafugata Ben Rye. (Variety: Zibbibo di Pantelleria). Rich, like elegant caramels, honey-drenched. Long, satisfying finish. A truly satisfying wine filled with warmth and elegance. A superb balance between sweetness and acidity. Honey and flowers. Bouyant. Flowers: daffodils, wild flowers .  My goodness this is satisfying wine.

May 15 A visit to Soave

May 12 Ugo’s Meat Fest at the Sandro di Bruno Winery

Ugo has brought a huge amount of meat and Sandro graciously dons his cook’s apron.  We drink Sandro’s excellent wine.

The aperitif is – tah dah – Sparkling Durello – fresh, sprightly, easy.

Sandro di Bruno 2008 Pinot Noir  Rich, an undertow of tobacco.  The wine has everything needed to satisfy patrons of a first-class restaurant.  Fruit: an amalgam of cherries, brambles, blue berries. A complexity and elegance on the nose and palate.

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May 11 Pamojo-landia

Pamojo is a bread-based soup that is a specialty of the Lessini Hills.  The Pamojo Society – whose motto is jollity and charity  (goliandia e solidarita) – raises money for worthy causes.  (www.pamojo.it) We meet in a little town near Vicenza for the annual membership drive dinner.  Most of the participants live within a ten mile radius of the venue.  The Lessini Durello sparkling wine flowed freely.

If you had asked me ten years ago to say something nice about Durello I would have laughed.  But times and methods change and now I am quite fond of a good glass of Durello.  It may even become the aperitif of choice in Verona in a few years. At its best, it has a soft, appley effervescence that is easy to match with snacks ….at its worst (and there are fewer bad ones each year) it tastes like fizzy aspirin.

The entertainment jollity is provided by two men in kilts.  I ask one of them why he and his colleague are thus dressed. “To distinquish us from the guests,” he said.  Fortunately for all concerned I could not remember the build-up to the joke about the Scotsman that has the punch line:  But at least I won first prize.

May 9 Michael returns from England.

We go to the bar in front of Sant’Anastasia church for an apertivo…and the gang – Ugo, Geppy, Germana, Steffie – begins to congregate.