APRIL 2011
April 30 Bellbottoms!!!!
I see bellbottom trousers on a mannequin in a women’s clothing shop across from Piazza Erbe. (see April 4th note to understand why this takes my breath away.)

April 29 The royal wedding
We go to Daniels to watch the royal wedding. I have made cucumber sandwiches and scones and Daniel has whipped up anchovy paste and bought smoked salmon Buck’s Fizz flows freely.

April 27 I get a medal
A medal arrives from a school in Greece. I am chuffed. I have received this for helping them organize visits to historic wineries in the zone. How very thoughtful of them.

April 25 Easter
Bellavista Gran Cuvee Franciacorta 2005. I will not write a regular note, instead I will write an emotional note. This wine is practically perfect in every way, as Mary Poppins would say. It has a fine balance between elegance and personality. This is not an easy thing to achieve. I would like to say that we drank it on a terrace overlooking the sea. In fact, we drank it while watching Gordon Ramsey’s ritual humiliations on Cucina di Incubo (a.k.a. Kitchen Nightmares USA).

April 7 through 11 Vinitaly
This year I decided – because I did not feel tip-top – to only visit producers I have known for years (sometimes for a couple of decades). So here is a list of one of my favorite wines from each of my favorite producers. (If you want loads of notes for every single wine, then I invite you to whiz down to April’s past).

Villa Bucci Pongelli Rosso Piceno 2009. The color of blueberry juice. Fresh, lively appealing fruit (blackberry) on the nose and palate. A juicy fruit compote on the palate.

Mr. Bucci told me that one year an American came to his stand and said: “Hello, Mr. Fratelli.” Mr. Bucci told me he immediately crossed out the word “fratelli” (brothers) on his card. “You would think that visitors would do at least the minimum of research before they come to the stand,” said Mr. Bucci.

Vicentini Soave Terre Lunge 2010 Very floral. At this point – 4p.m. – this is the nicest white I have tasted today.

Ca Lustra Zanovello 2007 Merlot Sassonero There is a warm weave of perfumes. On the palate, a soft plummy flavor with a note of grass. Warm and enfolding.

Zamuner Brut 2005 Bright, uplifting acidity. There is an old-style (in a good way) sensation on the palate. Creamy toast on the nose – all lifted by a lemony zest.
Bortolotti Brut 2007 A fine weave, very compressed. A bit of orange pith on the palate.

Fattoria Zerbina Torre di Ceparana 2007. A blood orange sheen over lush ruby. A mouthful of fruit . There is an elegance on the nose that balances precisely on the point of lushness. A warm full cherry (not cloying) juice. Firm Lovely fruit-filled finish.

Villa Extra Brut 2006 (Chardonnay 90%, 10% Pinot Noir). Barrique 6 months. A lovely fresh apricot-pear fruit on the nose. Bright and appealing. On the palate a rush of lush ripe fruit followed by a fine soft finish.

Ferrari Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2001 Bright pale gold. Yeasty nose. A tangerine zestiness lifts the creamy fruit.

Masciarelli Villa Gemma Cerasuolo 2010 A lively deep pink with blue tones. A full, fruity perfume. Juicy, with bright acidity that leaves a fresh pleasing flavor. This classy little wine gives pleasure.

Az. Ag. San Giovanni Chiaretto 2010 Fresh with a silky bolt of light cherry fruit A soft sprinkling of minerals over light, fresh, inviting fruit
A new producer for me:
Le Colture Prosecco extra dry Light apricot scent On the palate, a knubbly texture leads to a soft fruit-filled finish.

April 4 The North Americans converge
North Americans have started to converge on Verona in preparation for Vinitaly. From the way they gave me the once over, I think I may have mistakenly convinced more than one visitor that bellbottoms are back in style in Europe.

April 2 A Field Trip to the Ricci Curbastro Agricultural Museum (and winery!)
Monica called asking if I would like to accompany her to Franciacorta to visit the Ricci Curbastro Estate and agricultural history museum. She has to write an article on the energy saving elements they have incorporated into their set up.
She picks me up. In the back seat are her two daughters (8 and 10). Conversation is nearly impossible. Monica’s ability to listen to two independent babbles from the back seat and my dribblings are just too much for her. I slip into a meditative state. I like enforced silences: I get my best thinking done at boring seminars and pointless press conferences.

We are met at the estate by Rhoda the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Sly the spotted Setter. Oh yes, and by Gualberto Ricci Cubastro, the elegant gent who founded the winery. He takes us through the museum. It is open to the public and receives between 8,000 and 10,000 people a year. “It’s a testimony to the vanishing past,” says Gualberto. “It will allow my children and grandchildren to understand what country life was like.”
For me the most thought provoking display was composed of implements made from the helmets and cannons left by the armies that passed through Italy during the Second World War. English helmets were turned into wine funnels. Big round American helmets were turned into buckets and hibachis. French helmets became scoops.

Monica left us to chase the children who were outside harassing the remarkably affable dogs. Gualberto opened a bottle of Ricci Cubastro Brut 2007. (60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir). Very smooth and elegant. We shared a satisfying glass (or two) and the conversation turned to the USA. Gualberto had just returned from an aeronautics conference in Washington D.C. He had then driven from D.C. to New York City.

“They are very nice your policemen. You can talk to them,” he said. This assessment was based on his ability to charm his way out of a speeding ticket.

The estate also has 8 apartments to let and a fine airy conference room in addition to the museum and the exceptionally pleasing wines.