November 2016

Book News. Scott Clemen’s novella Evelyn Marsh has won the Amazon Contest and will be published as a Kindle e-book. Hooray!

19 through 21 Bologna Frolics

1I was kindly invited to Enologica, the annual three-day celebration of the wine and food products of Emilia-Romagna, held in the elegant Palazzo Re Enzo in the center of Bologna. If you find yourself in the city next November, I would urge you to buy a ticket and enter into this gentle, low-key environment. Of the many fine producers whose wines I tasted, those who stood out for me were:

Monte delle Vigne ( The Lambrusco (from the Lambrusco Maestre grape) I tried at the stand was the most elegant I have ever had the pleasure to taste. Also stunning (an every changing pattern of dark fruit flavor) was the Rosso Monte delle Vigne (Barbera 75%, Bonarda 25%). The prices too are very reasonable. If importers are looking for a new addition to their Italian line, look no further.


2Tenuta S. Lucia ( ) I first tasted these wine last year at a tasting if Sangiovese di Romagna in Faenza and found the wines original, fresh and capable of giving both intellectual and physical pleasure. The company prides itself on its adheerance to organic (and biodynamic) principals.


Also on hand were some of my favorite Emilia-Romagnan producers, whom I have written about many, many times over the years: Fattoria Zerbina, Giovanna Madonia, Righi and Montevecchio Isolani.

The final day of the visit, some of us were taken to the 33rd annual edition of Tartófla, the annual truffle festival held in small town of Savigno. We had lulnch in a large tent set up in the town square. What bliss: Tartufo lasagna; cream of Porcini mushrooms and Borlotti beans, with black truffles; Passatelli (a pasta formed of bread crumbs, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese) with either white or black truffles; poached egg with white truffle or black truffles. Oh, I could go on and on. Suffice it to say the food was sublime. The “cooks” were local people who pitched in to prepare the dishes and sere them. This delicious grub was washed down by some very interesting wines, among them:

Pignoletto Superiore Classico Classico DOCG from Vigneto San Vito (Federico Orsi – ) Pignoletto Frizzante Sui Lieviti (on the lees). It is a semi-sparkling wine that is neither clarified nor filtered. It is absolutely delicious, succulent, and sprightly. The flavor: ripe apricots, a light note of tangerine and an attractively bitter finish. Well worth giving a try.

WINE LESSON I first wrote about the Pignoletto grape variety in my 2003 book Wines of Italy, in which I said it was very likely a synonym for Grechetto. Well, as of July 2016 (as part of the regulations governing Italian wines) the concept of Pignoletto as the name of a grape variety has been vaporized from wine consciousness. Now Pignoletto refers to wines made from the Grechetto (Gentile) grape variety grown in a specific place, namely the Pignoletto DOCc zone and the Pignoletto Colli Bolognese DOCG zone. These wines are very versatile when it comes to matching them with food.
3Why this change in nomenclature? Basically it was to avoid the fate suffered by the producers of wines such as Prosecco. For decades if you heard the name Prosecco you could be fairly certain that the wine came from vines grown around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. With increased popularity, producers from anywhere in the world could plant the Prosecco vine (also known as Glera) and start pumping out “Proseccos”. The name Prosecco has become so debased that even in Italy the word “prosecchino” is often used generically to refer to any simple sparkling wine.

The wily Bolognese realized that in order to protect their increasingly popular Sparkling Pignoletto they would have to create a place called Pignoletto. For example: Champagne is a place name and no other sparkling wine can call itself Champagne.

Thus I found myself trudging up a muddy rutted path in thick fog with around twenty other journalists to “the place” that has been declared Pignoletto.

The highlights of the visit to Bologna

What I learned from the tour guide during our hour-long march in the rain through the streets of the city:
Bologna is the city of ….
Red bricks

What I learned from walking through the streets on my own:
Bologna is a real city, in the way that New York, Paris and London are real cities. By that I mean there is a strong sense of identity that emerges. For Bologna that identity is summed up as creative energy and streetlife.

618 November Zappa and Nostalgia
The morning started with Frank Zappa – his last album, a gift from my pal Randall. During our bright college days, Randall made the silkscreen posters that advertised bands performing at a local venue. I occasionally helped. In this way I was able to see Richie Havens, Leon Russell, Kansas and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – TWICE! (once with Eddie and the Florescent leach and once during Zappa’s Big Band phase). As I listen to this last album melancholy sets in. Grief has been on my mind for the last week or two. I find it all too easy to slide into nostalgia tinged with sadness…but then I suppose sadness is always a part of nostalgia.

12 November Birthday Party
Twenty-eight of Michael’s friends (plus two children under two, a very clever 8 year-old and two dogs) gathered in the cellar at Sandro di Bruno to celebrate Michael’s Big Six-OH! The sparkling Durello followed freely. Some of Michael’s pals asked him how come he had friends with young children – as if age were a qualification for friendship.