APRIL 2013

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA30 April  A cough, a cold, it’s the end of the road….

I must finish an article about Frescobaldi for a magazine today.  I am struggling through a miasma of cold symptoms.  As soon as it is finished, I will go to bed—for days.

29 April Cold Comfort

My cold and ragged, hacking cough remain…Michael demands that I go the pharmacy and stop fiddling around with home remedies – cinnamon and honey, in this case.

23 April I am interviewed

I get a Skype call from a radio station based in Colorado. My cousin Susan has put them in touch with me.  We chat about everything…Thomas Jefferson, phylloxera, Italian TV, treatment of dogs, wine trends…it was fun.  I am coming down with a cold…so my voice nearly gives out after an hour.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA21 April A stick, a stone, a slice of corn pone

We go to San Giovanni Lupatoto to Ugo’s poetry reading.  Diane Peters (www.harpandson.com.com) accompanies the reading on her harp.  Then she and her jazz guitarist husband have a musical interlude. She dedicates a song to me. Jobim’s The Waters of March ( A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road….)  It is the first time I have heard all the English language verses…and so it is the first time the song made sense. Below is a link to Susannah McCorkle singing her version.


19 April  Another  Porn Stars Emerge

I receive an email from the publicist of another porn star suggesting that I might want to write about the wines she produces.  I pitch the idea only to discover that it has already been done and the article about her is one of the most searched-for articles on the website.  This surprised me. Although I now realize it shouldn’t have. After all two of the most goggled words are wine and sex.

18 April   Voting for new Italian leader…someone writes in the name Rocco Siffredi.

16 April  Ugo’s Birthday Hoopla & A visit to Roberto Bravi’s Studio











7 through 10 April Vinitaly – The World’s largest Annual Trade Fair

Sunday morning at 9:30 I am at the fair to interview Lamberto Frescobaldi…a very nice man.  My favorite moment is when I ask him if he ever thought of doing something else rather than going into the family business.  He says that he was seriously tempted to join the Carabinieri (the Italian Military Police).

He also happily consented to be photographed with my book Bacchus at Baker Street.  Why? Because in the book I talk about all the wines and spirits mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories.  There is only one Italian wine and it is Chianti.  In my book I “prove” that the Chianti in question was produced by Frescobaldi!  “Now, I’ll have to reread all the stories,” he says, smiling into the camera.

I go to a dinner in the Roman Arena in Piazza Bra.  Pretty wonderful venue.  Unfortunately it is cold and rainy out.  What might have been magical becomes only interesting….but that isn’t bad.

We sit at our table huddled in our overcoats.  I sit next to Vittorio Fiore, winemaker extraordinaire.

“The last time I ate with my coat on must have been when I was 12years old during the war,” says Vittorio.

The next morning I present some US sparkling wines at a tasting sponsored by Euposia magazine (Domaine Ste Michelle, Shramsberg,  J Vineyards and Winery).  I am happy to say that the wines show well for the crowd of 50 Italian buyers, press and sommeliers.


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThen I race off to interview Porn King Rocco Siffredi and Jarno Trulli (Former Fomula One Driver) on their joint venture: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2013/04/sex-drives-italian-wine-venture

How can you interview him knowing what he does for a living,” breathless Italians ask me about the Siffredi interview.


“I have never seen one of his films,” I reply, “So I don’t have any unnecessary baggage. For me he is just the man in front of me at the moment: intelligent, pragmatic, with a sense of humor.”  Oh, and remarkably fit!!!and tan!!!!


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI interview Jose Rallo of Donnafugata.  I ask her what she is reading at the moment (she is a great reader). Among her favorites: American Pastoral by Philip Roth.  “Have you read I Married A Comunist?” she asks.  “You must.”




KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA1996 Scaccomatto from Fattoria Zerbina. A passito made from Albana grapes in Emlia-Romagna.  Vibrant and luscious as ever.


We run into Roberta Costantini.  She has published an e-book, a selection of short stories called Kamasutra Per I Single e Altri Racconti (The Kamasutra for Singles and Other Stories). I love the title… You can find it on the web.



My notes from the Press Conference
My notes from the Press Conference

Michael and I head to a mind-numbingly boring press conference. Why? Because Michael wanted to go because he knows the people who organized it and there is the promise of Greek and Bulgarian food afterwards.  He has been looking forward to trying Bulgarian cuisine for weeks, since the invitation arrived.  I drew pictures during the press conference because everything was said at least twice (once in Bulgarian or Greek and then in Italian). Due to remarkable organization…no reservation has been made for us.  Michael is livid…it is best not to get between a thin, hungry man and his chow.  Michael is what the Italians call a buon forchetta (a good fork), which means he enjoys eating.


I save the day….or rather the Franciacorta Consortium folks I happened to be standing next to in line to get into the fair come to the rescue.  They kindly extended an invitation to us if we happened to be free around noon.  Now we were.


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe Franciacorta consortium have organized a truly wonderful presentation/lunch. Franciacorta wines are matched with different tidbits.  Excellent information, good wines, fabulous food.  I really don’t think it could have been better.  I love Franciacorta, well all well-made sparkling wine really, and their presentation was a high point of the fair.  Franciacorta is a zone in Lombardy, the wines are made with the metodo classic (aka. The Champagne method), this means that the second fermentation takes place in bottle.


A Peruvian friend and his Italian wife are thinking about importing sparkling wines into Peru. They have already investigated Franciacorta and Prosecco.  I tell them that they must also consider  Trentodoc.  This is the name of DOC sparkling wines made in Trentino.  He is not interested…so I insist that he stop at the Ferrari stand with us.  He is blown away by the wines…. Then they give him a glass of Gulio Ferrari Riserva 2001– whispers of white peaches, gusts of pears, a sparkling sprinkle of minerals. Elegance and structure evolving, intriguing. A wonderful texture: fine yet interesting.  A shimmering, long clean finish, an idea of lanolin, a vibration of fruit (white peaches).  I love this wine.

The Peruvian is now firmly behind Trentodoc.  Hooray.  We visit a few more producers.

Michael and I whiz by Marina Thompson’s stand for our annual English-language book exchange.  Both Marina and I are voracious readers.  Vittorio Fiore’s stand is right next door so we stop by to taste with him.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA We taste his Castelluccio Sauvignon Blanc Ronco del Re 2007 fermented in barriques. “This wine expresses itself only after 5 years,” says Vittorio.  People who know me well, know that I am not a fan of most Sauvignon Blancs.  This wine, however, is an exception because it shows Fiore’s style: elegance and balance.

We taste the reds:  Le More 2007 (Sangiovese), Ronco dei Ciliegi 2007 (Sangiovese), Ronco di Ginestro 2007 (Sangiovese) and Massicone 2008 (Cabernet Sauvignon).  

“These are all wines that can easily reach 15 years,” says Vittorio.


We then taste his Poggio Scalette wines.

Poggio Scalette 2011 Chianti Classico. Vibrant, saturated dark-ruby. Nose: floral, with raspberry notes. On the palate a lush overripe strawberry note dominates the attack.  Then in rolls a wave of other red berry fruits. A lovely wine!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWe visit one of my favorite producers Franco Zanovello (info@calustra.it), who is making a wine in Sicily (besides owning an estate in the Colli Euganie.)  We only had time to taste one wine and asked him to choose the wine, so he poured us each a glass of Moscato delle Rose.  It is a sweet wine made from a rare grape variety.


I just realized the reason I like both Fiore and Zanovello’s wines: it is because both winemakers understand the notion of elegance in all its depth of meaning.


Did I taste other wines during the fair?  Of course I did…these are only a few of the highlights.