July 2018

Book report:  I received an email from my cousin in Colorado, who is a librarian. She writes “Staff…found a dead man on the bench by the door this morning.  They thought he was sleeping, but after a couple of hours they checked on him.  They don’t know if he was homeless or not. He was an older man who had been in the library the day before. Always exciting at the library.”

film director Elena Gladkova (who always knows were the camera is placed) at the Montenigo estate.

Well, speaking of excitement: it’s the annual San Gio Video Festival – the 24th edition, to be exact.  Those wanting more on the history of the event and behind the scenes glimpses of Ugo Brusaporco, the founder of the festival, may whiz down to any of the earlier July diaries.

I have discovered that if you want to find July diaries you must click on August. I suppose the person who tidied my website a year ago could not get his head around the fact that I put entries up at the end of the month. I do this because I like to think about things before I slap them up.  I know this is hopelessly old-fashioned.

One of the elements that make this 4-day San Gio international video extravaganza different from all the other film fests in the world is Ugo’s insistence that judges and hangers-on visit a different winery (or cheesemaker, or olive oil producer, or salami maker) every morning before the film screenings in the late afternoon.

Michael is one of Ugo’s right hands during this event (think of Ugo as kali-like: he has many hands…none of which know precisely what the others are up to).  Over the years I have gradually shifted away from participation in the event.

I was on the main jury in 2005. Among the awards we were to give was one for Best Actor. I wanted it to go to Michael Cera for a film called Darling, Darling.  I argued that the young actor was the lynchpin of the piece, without him it would disintegrate into plain goofiness. The French jurist wanted to give it to an actor in an English film about a man who boffs a plastic blowup sex toy doll, then washes it and folds it back into its package and returns it to the store.

“He was zho brave,” she said, leaning forward in her chair, sincerity oozing from every pore. I refused to be moved, pointing out that actors simulated all kinds of disturbing things…that is part of their job. But holding a film together – that takes a special kind of talent. I refused to be moved and I swayed the 6-person jury to my way of thinking. Cera won. A couple of years later the San Gio mob was making up a press release and I happened to find that the San Gio win was mentioned on Cera’s Wikipedia page. I showed it to Ugo and crew. They were overjoyed!

After that I gradually stopped going to the films but continued to visit the wineries and food producers.

This years I said I would only go to one winery. I asked Michael for the names of the those on the list for visits so that I could make my decision. The first one he mentioned had Damiano Peroni as their consultant, I said: “That’s the one!”  I think Damiano is a very talented winemaker.

The Montenigo (www.montenigo.it) azienda is known for its olive oil production and has just started producing wine.

Tasting notes: 2017 Valpolicella – a lovely ruby-rose color. Fresh and easy.

“We only made 2000 bottles of this wine,” said Rudi Roncari, owner of the azienda. “We made a mistake because this was the first year we commercially released the wines, because if we had made more we would have sold it all.  Next year we are aiming for 8,000 bottles.”

Any importers looking for wines in the Veneto should consider getting in touch with Damiano.  His email is Damiano@flavioperoni.it.

Of course, I ended up going to the other wineries.

The following morning….

We arrive at Lonigo for a stop at the wine consortium of the Colli Berici. After a quick visit, Ugo says: “We must go! The winery is only 30 minutes away.” He jumps into his assigned car and it races off. Two cars are quick off the mark and follow.  By the time the rest of us have piled into the remaining three cars, no one has any idea which of the four possible roads Ugo’s car has taken. Nor has anyone the address of the winery. We procure this detail. I am in the lead car – and our little caravan sets off. I am the only passenger in the car; the other three are glued to their individual GPS devices, each of which offers a different route to the wine estate. Arguments ensue. After well over an hour of driving down one-lane roads and through enchanted forests, we arrive at the exceptionally beautiful Pegoraro estate (www.cantinapegoraro.it ) where we taste the wines and have a bang-up lunch.

The 2017 Tai Rosso is tangy, sprinkled with hints of black pepper. Chilled it is a fine accompaniment for a hot, sunny afternoon, scored by a chorus of cicadas.

The following morning…

at the Sandro de Bruno winery

We are heading for a favorite producer: Sandro de Bruno (www.sandrodebruno.it ). We have tasted the wines here over the years and have never been disappointed. This company makes my absolute favorite sparkling Durello. We go to the top of a hill where a picnic table and benches are set up near the vineyard. We eat salami and cheese and chat about life and movies.  We also taste the top-notch wines.

The non-vintage sparkling Durello is bright, fresh and elegant. The 2010 Superiore is all that, plus having an attractive creaminess on the palate.

 

 

June 2018

We celebrated Annalisa’s 30 years at the Carroarmato by tasting some wonderful wines and laughing and sharing.

Here is a photo of us toasting Cristina Geminiani after tasting her fabulous Scacco Matto, a passito made from Albana grapes.

 

 

And now to slip in to reminiscence.

At the age of sixteen I took my first after-school job. My mother intended this to be a simple character-building exercise. For me it became an entry into the first of my careers. Had I applied at the supermarket as she imagined I would, my life would have turned out differently. Instead a school friend took me to the radio station owned by her father.  He said I had a good voice and hired me on the spot.

For a few hours every afternoon I recorded commercials in a small beige room and on Saturdays I read the local news into a microphone the size of a prizefighter’s fist.

This led to a summer job at the black soul station in a nearby city. Its studio occupied two floors of a narrow corner building across the street from the university. My first day on the job I slipped into the thread-bare office chair in my little booth and looked through the thick glass window at the D.J., an exceedingly tall and muscular young man going to the university on a basketball scholarship.  He flashed me a wide, reassuring smile. Tammy Tyrell and Marvin Gaye warbled “The world is just a great big onion. Ah huh.”

My hands shook. The pages of my script rustled.  I took deep breaths, hoping to calm down.  I adjusted my trendy wire-rimmed specs and brushed the dark, uneven bangs from my forehead. More deep breathing. Again the D.J. flashed me a smile. He turned a knob and Tammy and Marvin faded. He moved in close to the mike and crooned in his Barry White Voice: “Now let’s welcome my sexy little news mama.”  My hands stopped shaking: I was horrified.  Sexy Little News Mama!!!  What if my father was listening!

I filled my ten-minute spot with news about local fires, marijuana busts and the highlights (if they could be called that) of the most recent city council meeting. The second our mikes were off I charged into his booth ready to do battle with the D. J.  “Wow,” he said mildly. “I’ve never seen anyone turn pink before.” From that day forward his goal was to make me blush. My three months at this job prepared me for anything radio could dish up and left me with an abiding fondness for Marvin Gaye.

Here is a link to The Onion Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ElC4UwYVuA