NOVEMBER’S WINE OF THE MONTH: DREI DONA 2010 Cuvee Palazza Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Its fragrance of warm, ripe fruit (plums and black cherries) is echoed on the silky (near velvety) palate. The finish is long and flavorful. A very satisfying wine.
Let me go on record as saying that I am partial to wines from DREI DONA (www.dreidona.it). They often have a rich fruitiness that makes them extraordinarily well suited for vegetarian dishes. Yes, they also work well with red meat and cheese based dishes. However, every time I taste a Drei Dona Sangiovese, vegetarian food pairings pop into my mind: bean burritos, tofu chili, lentil casserole or walnut and gorgonzola pasta sauce.
However, I will confess that the day after I opened the bottle for tasting, I drank a glass with my lunch: hamburgers and French fries. Not chic but satisfying.
24 November THE BEST (light and fruity) OLIVE OIL IN THE WORLD
We take the bus out to the Ilasi Valley to visit the BONAMINI Olive Oil estate (www.oliobonamini.com). For 5 years running their olive oil has won the Light & Fruity category in the FLOS OLEI Guidei. In 2013, they won out over 3000 producers from 5 continents.
The estate has 3,800 olive trees on two hectares of land. Their major export markets are the USA (importers in New York and the San Francisco area) and Northern Europe.
I asked Sabrina Bonamini how she would describe her winning oil. “Elegant. Is the most important descriptive word,” she said.
23 November: GOING HOME
I wake up and weigh the options for the day: stay in Trento until late afternoon or go home and finish writing a chapter for a book. I choose the latter.
Michael goes to the Chievo vs Helas-Verona soccer game. Our team is Chievo. Cheivo is a small suburb of Verona. One of the reasons we are so fond of this team is the remarkable sportsmanship demonstrated by both the players and the fans.
Well, Helas Verona lost and Michael and some 500 other Chievo supporters were trapped inside the stadium while the police tried to round up and control the Helas- Verona Hooligans. He called at 8:30 to say he would be late for dinner. He called a half hour later not sure when he would get out of the stadium. He came home a little after 10 p.m.
22 November TRENTODOC TRENTODOC TRENTODOC!!!
I can hear some of you saying: What in the world is Trentodoc? Well, it is one of the best kept secrets in the world of sparkling wine. Its name refers to wines made with the Champagne method (second fermentation in bottle) and produced in the region of Trentino. These wines are usually made from Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Noir (known as Pinot Nero in Italy). Trentodoc was awarded the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) in 1990, the first sparkling wine zone in Italy to receive this designation.
The historic name in Trentino sparkling wines is enologist Giulio FERRARI. It was he who, in 1902, created the Ferrari wine company with the aim of producing wines using the Champagne method. In 1952, Bruno Lunelli teamed up with Giulio, and together they helped lead the way toward the success of Trentodoc.
Below you will find deep-fried polenta on a stick.
I arrive at the Palazzo Roccabruna in the heart of Trento at 10:30 and sit down to blind taste more than 60 wines. A blind tasting is one where the taster is presented with the wine without knowing who made it.
Here are the names of the producers whose wines captured my highest marks in the blind tasting: FERRARI, MASO MARTIS, REVI, ENDRIZZI, SAN MICHELE, GAIERHOF, METHIUS, PISONI, CONTI WALLENBURG, ROTARI and ALTREMASI. Let me say, that the general standard among Trentodoc producers is very high; there were no duff wines.
The Trentodoc that I found exceptionally interesting based on its vintage was the 2002 GIULIO FERRARI RISERVA DEL FONDATORE BRUT. The yellow-gold wine was mature as indicated by its notes of fresh hazelnuts on the nose. It had a sherbet-like texture and a fine weave of fresh hazelnuts and lemon zest on the palate.
I opened a bottle of FERRARI 2002 Riserva Lunelli Extra Brut Trentodoc last Christmas and it too was lively and intriguing: Bright, and rich, with citrus notes enlivening the palate. Flavors of cream soda and mandarin orange.
In the evening, after the tasting, we visit Trento’s natural history museum, the MUSE (www.muse.it). Every time the guide asks for a volunteer I step up. As a result I shook hands with a robot and had a minute massage on a board labeled “The Fakir’s Bed”.
We then don our coats, hats and scarves and head to a nearby building. As I stand spooning soup into my gob, with creaky Techno music thumping all around me, I realize that I don’t need to stay. I’ve done my job – blind tasted the wines, smiled or chatted with the producers I like & tried to sell an article about the experience – and in return the organizers of the event have given me a dandy tour of a swell museum.
November 15 SOAVE CASTELLANA TORBOLINO DINNER
We miss our connecting bus and arrive in Soave an hour late. This turns out to be a good thing because dinner has not yet been served. All we have missed are the speeches by politicians. Hooray!
The Soavettes (as I call the nice ladies at the Soave Consortium) have saved us a seat across from the Torbolino King. What is Tobolino? It is a dialect word for grape must that has started to ferment….it is halfway between grape must and wine. We ask the King how he came to receive this honor. “People vote for the king…so I bought a lot of rounds at the bar,” he says.
Soave is served. On our table there were Soaves from two of my favorite producers: VICENTINI and MONDE TONDO.
November 11 TEAM GARBOLE
Ettore and Filippo Finetto founders of the GARBOLE winery and protégées of ROMANO DAL FORNO have invited us to join them and 15 others to dine at the POMIEROEU restaurant (www.pomiroeu.it) in Seregno. The Pomieroeu is a bit like Brigadoon – it is difficult to find but once you have found it you never want to leave.
Chef Giancarlo Morelli and his colleague Lorenzo Cogo prepared a tasting menu that was simply fabulous. My favorite dish was served on a cold slate slab…first a sprinkling of toasted brioche crumbs, on top of this beaten raw shrimp – all this covered with feathery grated foie gras. I felt blessed to be at this table.
Quotes from the evening:
“The company was born from our ideas. It was not a father to son affair,” says Ettore. “Our dad was a carpenter. He drank wine and was the extent of his interest in it. But we always helped my uncle who had some vineyards. In 1996 he had a heart attack and we kept his vineyards going by working there a couple of days a week. Then we visited the BERTANI wine estate and that changed everything for us. We were so impressed that we decided to make wine ourselves.”
After tasting their wines, it is clear to see why Dal Forno has taken such a shine to the Garbole boys.
I particularly liked their 2009 NON-Valpolicella called L’ HELETTO. By non-Valpolicella I mean that it could use the designation Valpolicella Superiore but the producers have chosen not to do so.
And, indeed, the wine is so rich and full and has such a complex layering of flavors that it does transcend the word Valpolicella. Deep, opaque yet vibrant ruby/black. A chocolate fusion on the nose and palate. Almost candied on the finish. Spicy. An evolving flavor of fruit (cherries, black berries) nuts (almonds, fresh hazelnuts), a dash of citrus fruit. And a fine sprinkling of spice (cinnamon and turmeric).
Another very interesting wine was their HURLO 2008, with its opaque ruby, near-black color. A very grapey richness, almost creamy on the palate.
We sit and a superb G&T, garnished with a juniper berry and a thick bit of lime peel, is produced.
At a little after 3, we make our way to the Garbole-mobile. Ettore and Filippo kindly offered to take us to the dinner and return us to Verona. At 6a.m. I fall into bed….