April & May 2010

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In the April section you will find notes from a vertical tasting of Donnafugata’s Ben Rye and a description of a trip to Trentino (including a stop at Tenuta di San Leonardo), among other things.
The reason the April and May diaries appear together has to do with: a trip to England, a dead hard drive and tragedies with which I will not bore you. However, I am back in the game and ready to go.
Music Pick of the month: Cardio by Miguel Bose This was selected by a record producer I happened to meet at the Braida Stand during Vinitaly. The album entered the Top 40 charts at number 8 and seems to be holding firm.
Book News
Michelle Lovric’s The Book of Human Skin (Bloomsbury Publishing www.bloomsbury.com) has just come out. I had the opportunity to read it in manuscript last year. It is a ripping yarn that takes you through 18th Venice with side-trips to a murky convent in Peru and an island of madness. The names Shakespeare and Dickens have been bandied about when referring to this book. (Michelle’s book The Undrowned Child was mentioned in the April 2009 Diary)

Simon Mawer’s book The Glass Room (shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize) has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. (The Glass Room was mentioned in the January 2009 Diary). The winner gets £25,000 pounds sterling. Ah, let us pause and consider that for a moment. I’m impressed. Are you?

May 2010
May 25 I Judge at the Colli Berici tasting
What is Colli be…
May 20 Donnafugata Mille e una Notte
I cook steak – a very unusual occurrence in our house. To celebrate I open a 2006 Mille e Una Notte (Nero d’Avola) from Donnafugata. This is a Contessa Entellina Rosso DOC. It is a lively interpretation of Nero d’Avola. Soft tannins, round and mouth filling, with brambly- wild blue berry flavors. The soft tannins and easy style would make this wine suitable for pairing with a variety of vegetarian dishes. The next time I have a bottle, I will do some experimenting.

May 17 A day out with visiting journalists
May 16 Sipping in Bottega del Vino’s cellar
Michael and I meet up with some visiting journalists. They are in the area to visit the Soave zone. As happens on these events we end up in the cellar of the Bottega. A bottle of 1980 Taurasi from Mastroberardino appears. When first poured it has a slightly sour smell. This blows off rapidly. The nose has a silky sensation. A smoky burst over an elegant fruit. Tar. A very fine weave of bonfire smoke and fresh plums with a fresh burst on the nose. Nice grip.
May 15 Authors meet at my place
If anyone reading this has ideas on how novelists and non-fiction writers can create a rapport with their readers via internet, twitter, radio, etc. Please feel free to give us the benefit of your experience and creativity. Our group website is www.englishwritersinitaly.com.
We drank a magnum of Phileo Brut from Tenuta Il Bosco, an estate in the Oltrepo Pavese. (Pinot Nero) The Oltrepo o It is a very appealing sparkling wine that reminded many of my guests of Champagne. This should make the wine’s producer very happy.
Here are some of things the authors gathered in my small living room had to celebrate:
Peter Popham has just been commissioned by Random House to write a biography of the Burmese freedom fighter Ahn Suu Kyi
Gay Marks is about to deliver the ms of her new novel to her agent.
Michelle Lovric was interviewed by Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour, a BBC radio program, this week, and has been appointed Royal Literary Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Elizabeth Edmondson has a new book out with Simon and Schuster in USA, Writing Jane Austen.
Simon Mawer could not be with us because – the lucky devil – is doing a book promotion tour.
May 12 Home
We arrive back from London to discover that our water heater has broken. No damage to property – we just have no hot water. I decide to throw myself into writing. I turn on my computer (which has in fact been making ominous grinding noises – kinda like a Piper Cub lowering its landing gear). It winks at me then dies. I start to cry. I crawl into a ball under my desk…my head next to the nest of wires that connect the damned thing…and I cry. After about 15 minutes I realize I could cry till the end of time or get up and clean the house. I do the latter.

April 2010
April 22 through 24 In Trentino
Federica picks me up and we head out for Trentino to join the other journalists: Maria Grazia (who appears in these diaries – she is a blogger, with a passion for technology I lack), Mr. Piedmont Talker and his silent wife (aka The Listener) and Silent Lorenzo.

At every winery Mr. Piedmont Talker, feels the need to talk about Nebbiolo, Barolo and Piedmont. Now, gentle reader, we are in TRENTINO! If he had done it once…well okay…but no. At Every Single Stop. I start looking at my watch and making silent bets with myself on how many minutes it will be before he starts his Piedmont routine. Silent Lorenzo, on the other hand, never speaks unless poked with a sharp verbal stick.

After two days of his silence Federica and the others gang up on Lorenzo over lunch and start peppering him with questions and demands that he “say something!” This sends him (wild eyed) into his shell. After things settle down and the others are back in their own conversations I glance over at him. There is a sly smile on his face. He leans across to Mr. Piedmont Talker and says: “Are there any wines like these in Piedmont.” (Ah, Silent Lorenzo has a sense of humor.) Mr. Piedmont Talker takes the question and runs with it, and Silent Lorenzo is saved from having to utter a word for the next 40 minutes.

First stop San Michele All’Adige. This is a very well-known agricultural college and winemaking institution. Their fiercely varietal wines are always winning awards. While I admire their steely, upright quality, I sometimes find them too extreme. They are, however, excellent for teaching tasting. Believe me, once your students have smelled San Michele d’Adige Sauvignon Blanc you will never again have to suffer any cat’s pee jokes. This wine is pipi di gatto to the max.

Then we are off to visit the Zeni winery.
Roberto Zeni is a straight-spined man, whose Zappa beard and probing eyes always reminds me of a fit Southern Colonel. Here are my notes on his wines.

Muso 2005 (60% Pinot Nero, 40% Chardonnay) Bright salmon pink. The idea of strawberries on the palate. Grapefruity acidity. Pleasing finish.

Rossara 2009 (100% Teroldego) A light to medium depth of blue tinged ruby. Grapefruit nose, then a burr of brambly fruit. A pleasing cream soda note on the finish.

Ororosso 2006 Lively on the nose. Big, juicy fruit.

Roberto describes Teroldego as tasting like “cherries in yogurt”. Nice, that.

Grappa 1997 Wow 59° A creamy, appealing nose, with a dusting of black pepper. A vibrant tawny color with orange/tangerine highlights. I do not taste it but Maria Grazia does. “I taste dates on the finish,” she says.

Tenuta San Leonardo
An exquisite estate – in every sense of the word. Twenty people work here and many of them live here as well.

“In the 1800 we already sold our wine in France,” says Anselmo Guerrieri Gonzaga. “My family has always had ties with Paris.”

Sitting on the patio beside the kitchen garden we taste. A scrim of fog shrouds the mountains. The 2 caged parrots inside squawk every now and there.

Terre di San Leonardo 2005 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon Can easily last up to 10 years. Medium-deep good consistent saturation of plumy/ruby. I have no desire to dredge up a fruit basket. Suffice it to say: it smells French to me. It takes me back to my years in London, where Bordeaux was (and probably still is) king.

Villa Gresti 2005 (90% Merlot) Bruised ruby color. Fresh on the nose and palate. Silky texture. Brambly fruit merges with the acidity until the two seem like one – very tight weave. Satisfying and elegant.

San Leonardo 2004 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot) Medium depth. Good saturation of ruby, with deep rose rim. Again, I think of France. Not just the grapes but there is something else…a sprinkling of church incense. Nose is fresh – but a freshness wrapped in silky black currant fruit.

“Lots of students come and ask us about how we make our wines – what yeasts we use, what additives,” says cellar-man Antonio Benvenuti, who has lived on the estate since he was a boy. “We do not filter, we use natural yeasts. I am a little embarrassed when confronted by these students because we do everything natural here. I don’t even know what the things they ask about are.”

Cantina d’Isera
I like the director, a lean, intelligent, articulate man. And if you lived locally I would recommend the inexpensive everyday drinking wines the cooperative produces. However, they have not made the jump to major foreign export markets. So, if you happen to be driving by…

The Big Nosiola Tasting
Nosiola is a white indigenous variety. I tasted it for the first time in 2000, when I was researching my book on Italian indigenous grape varieties (Wines of Italy). There has been a decade’s worth of improvements since then.

Here are the one I liked best… (In no particular order)
Battistotti Nosiola 2009 Straw-sheen. Appealing softly fruity – white pears and bouquet freshness. Very drinkable.

Cantina Toblino 2006 “L’Ora” The yellow wine in the set. Floral. It has a burry, sprinkling of hazelnut. On the palate, delicious sensations of hazelnuts and, again, a snap of ripe pear. 14°

San Michele All’Adige Nosiola 2009 Very pale sheen of straw yellow. Full on the attack. It narrows but the lively flavor sensations (lemon sherbet, an idea of toffee) remain firm.

Cantina La Vis e Valle di Cembra Nosiola 2008 “Maso Rosa Bel Nice saturation of pale straw. Okay.

Az. Agr. Cesconi di Paolo Cesconi e Figli Nosiola 2008 Bright. Floral/fruity nose. Grapefruit sherbet, This is a very appealing wine.

Roberto Zeni Nosiola 2009 Yellow sheen. Drinkable – again a lemon sherbet sensation and flavor.

Dinner at Maso Franchi (owned by La Vis). Hidden away on a mountain road is a tiny divot of modern elegance and impeccable service. Everything about this restaurant and spa is just right. The prices at the restaurant are breathtakingly fair: antipasti at 10 to 14 Euros. Second courses from 14 to 18 Euros. The wine list, too, has keen prices.

The dinner is superb. By 10 p.m. we journalist have completely exhausted our ability to converse (even Mr. Piedmont Talker!!!) Unfortunately, the main course has not yet arrived and another hour and a half of dinner stretches out before us.

“What was the wonderful quality of Italy that made you want to move here?” our host asks me.

“Ah, there wasn’t one,” I reply. I cannot be nimble when I am tired.

The following day we go to the castle at Toblino for lunch. (I have written about this in the December Diary ). It is a singularly beautiful spot – surrounded by mountains, on the banks of a wide, placid lake, the fragrance of blossoming trees fills the air.

Silent Lorenzo comes up beside me. “Is paradise,” he says in English.

April 21 Mark Twain
I drop by the Osteria Carroarmato to see Annalisa’s (the owner and my best Italian pal). We knock back a pleasantly woozy amount of Bollinger. “I have had this wine in my cellar for 3 years. But it is not the kind of wine that my customer’s order – well, they order it only when someone else is paying. So I decided we might as well drink it!” She slices open a lovely side of smoked salmon that we make disappear.

Michael sails by and tows me to Bruno’s bookshop to participate in Ugo’s weekly literary sessions. We will read excerpts from Mark Twain in English. Ugo introduces me as a “leading expert on Mark Twain.” This surprises me but then I look around at the small but willing Italian public and realize that, within the context of this event, – by gum! – I am the nearest thing there is to an authority. The reading goes down a treat.

April 20 Abridging Twain
I spend the morning editing the Tom Sawyer and the Fence scene down to a 5 minute reading. It starts out at 9 minutes. I am pleased with the effort.

I open a bottle of 1996 Ca del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi Nicely saturated gold. Fresh and appealing on the nose. Lush, richness on the palate. When a sparkling wine acquires a certain age it becomes more viscose and weighty in the mouth. Creamy, with still vivid grapiness. A very fine wine. All the more impressive when we consider it is 14 years from the vintage. Most people tend to drink wines right away rather than giving them time to develop. I must confess here that my cellar of old vintages has more to do with my own laziness than a zealots passion for keeping wine.
April 19 Glad to be Alive
I am sitting on the a stone bench on the top of a hill. The sun is just above the hilltops. It is 6:30 p.m. The breeze is warm and occasionally cherry blossoms float by. The air is fragrant with freshly turned earth, flowers and the juicy, grassy smell of the country. Birds sing. I realize that I am so very happy to be alive and so very lucky to be here at this precise moment.

I am in Montecchia di Crosara Benches have been set up on the lawn and a press conference is going on. The topic is M… and the fact that tourists don’t know that Soave is half an hour’s drive from Verona. And that they really have no idea of the existence of this little divot of paradise. After the press conference there is a wine tasting and cheese and salami are laid on. A jazzy combo that plays standards – Autumn Leaves, The Girl From Ipanima – for their own enjoyment. They are very good indeed but only 5 people seem to be listening. Only family members and I applaud at the end of the first tune.

April 16 Pamojo Extravaganza
Anna picks us up and takes up to the annual Pamojo dinner. Pamojo is a soup made principally from a dried bread (pan biscoto). Read all about it and the good works the Brotherhood of Pamojo do in the March 2009 Diary).

The tables are covered in nice white paper. My pen cannot keep still. I start drawing – ladies in fine hats, dancing ladies, serious men, goofy guys, mischievous boys, dour ladies, prim little girls. I fill all the space in front of me. I am at the corner of a “U” of two tables, so I start filling the corner section. I mesmerize the lady seated at the adjoining table, she tells me which of the hats and outfits worn by my ladies she likes best. She calls her friends over to look at my drawings and they ooo and ahhh.
“She does it so quickly,” says the lady. She likes the dancers best. “They look like they are really moving.”
At the end of the evening, while we are putting the tables and chairs away. A young lady asks me to sign the table cloth. Then she very carefully peals back the tape on my table and gently folds up my drawings. She carries around the drawings as if they were precious. And I will admit to being flooded with gratitude and pride. It has been so long since I had a chance to draw on such a nice big expanse of paper. And…someone thought the drawings were worth keeping. It does not matter how long she keeps them, I am humbled and proud at the same time.
My drawing these days is mostly confined to doodling on the back of press releases during the boring bits of press conference. Ah, to be recognized. My thoughts turn to what might have been had I had the opportunity to become a stuff toy designer. Ah….
April 8 through 12 Vinitaly
Here are my notes on the wines that I found truly interesting this year. They are divided into three mini articles: Millennial Wines, Donnafugata Ben Rye are in this diary. Italian Sparkling Wines will be in the next installment.

Millennial Wines
The term Millennial Generation refers to consumers who are open-minded and willing to try things that are out of the ordinary – in fact they are people who seek out products and experiences that are extraordinary. With that spirit in mind I have made a short list of wines I tasted at Vinitaly (the world’s largest annual wine trade fair) that fit this description. They are juicy and appealing but beyond all this – and what makes them Millennial – is that they also have soul, style and originality.

2007 Bullulae Brut from Bruno Bortolotti (78% Lagrein, 15% Pinot Noir and 7% Ripasso Valpolicella)
This sparkling wine has a vivid, vibrant light ruby with definite rich red-orange highlights. It is the color of a wine that could proudly be served on the Starship Enterprise. In fact, it is, in my opinion, a wine of the future in that it manages to convey all the qualities of a fine, concentrated “important red” with the vivacity and liveliness of a superb sparkling wine. The nose is a firm, decisive blend of bright berry fruits: raspberries, blueberries, a touch of cherry all captured in a net of softly citrusy zest. On the palate it has a lovely – and surprising – creaminess. Again, I am left with the feeling that I am drinking something totally original and totally satisfying. It is a wonderful balance between graciousness and character. I love this wine!!! There I have said it outloud!

After 10 minutes in the glass the wine is still firm and fresh and inviting.

How did this unusual blend come about? “I noticed the affinity between wines made from the Lagrein grape and Valpolicella Ripasso so I decided to experiment. You know I like to try new things,” says Bruno Bortolotti, whose company is located in the Veneto Region of Italy. (He also makes, in my opinion, the Prince of Proseccos.)
When asked for a food match, Bruno says: “It is a wine to drink on its own. But if I had to pick something I would serve it with scampi risotto or pumpkin tortellini.”
2008 Erbaluce di Caluso from Benito Favero (100% Erbaluce) Pale gold. Bright, clean, refreshing. On the nose: freshness together with a creamy sensation. On the palate the idea of elderflowers mingles with soft white-fleshed fruits (some peaches, pears). On the middle palate the fruit flavor expands, all the while captured and kept firm by the lively minerality.
“You need to give Erbaluce a lot of time to develop – just like some Soaves,” says Camillo Favero, winemaker at the estate, which is located in the Piedmont Region of Italy.
When asked for a an ideal match, Camillo suggests baked fish or roast white meats.
2009 AS from Fattoria Zerbina (100% Albana) A sheen of pale straw with a clear rim. The fragrance rises up to meet you – full, fruity (apricots) with the idea of sweetness (although this is a dry wine) infused with a minerally acidity/freshness. This pleasing sensation continues onto the palate and through the finish where the vivacious minerality becomes more evident.
The name AS derives from “Albano Secco”. Cristina Geminiani, winemaker and owner of Fattoria Zerbina (which is located in the Italian Region of Emilia Romagna) suggests serving it with egg pasta dishes with vegetable-based sauces, or with soft, fresh cheeses (such as herbed goat’s cheese).
As Cristina has expressed interest in my book Bacchus at Baker Street, which concerns all the wines and spirits mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories, I ask her if she would like to become a member of The Assorted and Stradivarious of Verona, a scion society of The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes. She is keen on the idea and proposes other lady winemakers who might be interested. Oh Frabjous Day! My dream is to get together a nice collection of great Italian wine makers who like Sherlock Holmes. Oh…..this thought makes me happy. A wine producer’s great grandfather is even mentioned in the stories….more on this later…..
2008 Soave “Monte Carbonare” from Suavia (100% Garganega) A firm saturation of rich yellow, with a scrim of pea-green. The apricot-tinged fruit bursts out of the glass at the first sniff. Again the minerality seems to spin around the fruit, giving it a well-defined shape. The palate echoes the nose: apricot fruit and sprightly minerality. The apricot element broadens and dominates the lively finish. A lovely wine.
After 10 minutes in the glass, the flavors and fragrances are even more finely knit. It takes on a sensation of heavy-silk on the palate.
“We feel that the Carbonare is a true expression of its terroir,” says Meri Tessari, who with her sisters and parents, manages the Suavia estate.
“As regards pairing,” says Meri “I think Monte Carbonare is good with most fish-based dishes because it respects the flesh of the fish, its salinity and delicate meat. It is also excellent with vegetable and truffle risottos or medium-ripened cow’s milk cheese.”
Meri kindly provided some specific (and delicious-sounding) recommendations: lime-marinated sardine bruschetta; grilled red radicchio and Montasio cheese; risotto with pomegranate and Monte Veronese cheese; pasta with zucchini, zucchini blossoms and ricotta; and almond-crusted sardines with savoy cabbage.

2009 Donnaluna from Viticoltori De Conciliis (100% Fiano)Pale gold, clear rim. Soft white-fleshed fruits contained in a fine mesh net of zesty acidity. An intriguing salinity defines the flavor. On the middle palate an attractive steely sensation emerges and the salinity (and minerality) seems to take on an almost visceral character – this is an excellent wine to serve with meals.
When asked for a serving suggestion Bruno Di Conciliis says, “Spaghetti with clams – but with a good sauce – not one of those with a lot of burnt garlic!”.
The Di Conciliis estate is located in Campania. Bruno, by the way, petitioned and got permission to name a road near one of his vineyards: “via Frank Zappa”. I like Bruno.
2004 Ramuner from Zamuner (75% Pinot Nero, 10% Pinto Meunier, 15% Chardonnay) Golden yellow. It is round, easy and pleasing. It has a very full, appealing perfume that gives the idea of ripe, fresh pears and apricots. It is sweet on the nose but dry on the palate.
It is an a fine aperitif, particularly as its fruity fragrance makes it satisfying to drink without food. “But it is also very good with ethnic dishes, “ says Daniele Zamuner. “Particularly Chicken curry.”
2009 500 from Fattoria Zerbina (96% Sangiovese, 4% Merlot) Right from the start this wine seems to shimmer with vibrancy. The color is a blue-tinged ruby with vivid scarlet highlights. The fragrance is embracing. Its lush, velvety sensations ride high on a wave of bracing freshness. The fruit flavors – strawberry, raspberry, blueberry – are so well integrated that they become one glorious whole.
Its name – 500 (cinque-cento) – is reminiscent of the recently-released super compact Italian cars of the 50 and 60s and was chosen because the wine is only sold in 500 cl bottles.
“We know that people want to drink less these days at restaurants and at home, so we decided to bring out the wine in a smaller bottle,” says Cristina Geminani. She suggests that the wine be served lightly chilled.
2008 Montebruna from Braida (100% Barbera) Ripe rich plumy color. The fragrance conveys juicy, pulpy plums. This is echoed on the palate: ripe, fresh, fruity – Barbera at its juicy best. The acidity that is characteristic of the grape buoys the joyous fruit.
“I’d enjoy Montebruna with a great big juicy steak,” says Raffaella Bologna, who with her brother and husband manages the Piedmontese estate.
Braida has long been known for its single-vineyard Barberas. In fact, it was Giacomo Bologna (Raffaella’s father) who first recognized the grape’s potential for producing great, world-class wines. With Montebruna the Bologna family has created a wine in line with the Millennial tastes: that is, a “real” wine, but one that dances across the palate.
Donnafugata’s Ben Rye
Donnafugata is based in Sicily, where the company produces a range of exceptionally appealing reds and whites. However, the jewels in its crown are the wines it makes on the tiny volcanic island of Pantelleria, which lies between Sicily and Africa. There Donnafugata grows Zibibbo (a.k.a. Moscato di Alessandria). Each vine is left to form its own small bush. (In other areas, vines are usually trained onto wires to form tidy rows.) These bushes grow close to the ground and as a consequence are somewhat protected from the winds that sweep across the island. Some of the vines are over 100 years old and, as you can imagine all work in the vineyards must be carried out by hand.
“The vines grow horizontal to the earth,” says Jose Rallo, whose family owns Donnafugata. “It takes a lot of hard work to tend them. You have to really believe in the wines.”
She confesses that Ben Rye, the company’s exquisite sweet wine whose name in Arabic means “child of the wind”, is her favorite wine. “Loving it is almost a duty for me,” she says. “I have to love it and make others love it.”
I was fortunate enough to taste 4 vintages of Ben Rye at the recent Vinitaly wine trade fair held in Verona. Here are my notes.
2002 Ben Rye. A vibrant yellow sheen over a clear, fine tangerine/pale toffee color; clear rim. The nose presents a bright amalgam of citrus (citron, tangerine), with shadows of apricots and figs and a soft, broad grapiness. It is sprinkled with fine, warm spices. The palate echoes the nose. The sensations are firm, the ideas of figs and blossoms broaden and are joined by flavors of fresh pine nuts. The flavor evolves in the long, fine finish. The shades of figs and ripe but firm apricots remain on the palate long after the wine itself has gone.
After 10 minutes: It remains firm and satisfying with a youthful vivacity. A lovely experience.
After 15 minutes: Its freshness holds.
After 20 minutes: Still appealing, still firmly presenting its luscious fragrances and flavors.
“Zibibbo is an aromatic variety,” says Jose “For us the 2002 is a benchmark vintage. It has great acidity that balances the fullness of the flavors.”
2005 Ben Rye Vibrant. Lightly colored rim. A pea green sheen over a tawny color, with vivid tangerine highlights. Fresh, uplifting nose. The freshness is dominant on the nose followed half a beat later by a clean orange-lemon marmalade tinged sensation. A very tight weave on the palate. Again shades of apricots, orange marmalade and tangerines, with a nuance of fresh hazelnuts. A fine line of rich fruit defines the very long faftertaste.
After 10 minutes: The ripe apricot element unfolds on the nose and palate like silk and a sprinkling of tangerine zest emerges.
After 15 minutes: The apricot settles down and melds with the zest. The finish is even more intriguing.
After 20 minutes: It is still fine and fresh.
2008 Ben Rye More yellow in the yellow/tawny blend of colors. The tangerine highlights are softer. There is the suggestion of an expensive scented powder on the nose. (Dior comes to mind, I do not know why.) This lies over a broad apricot note. On the palate the very ripe apricot notes are fully and richly expressed, yet all the while the lively zesty acidity shapes and enlivens the flavors. Very lively on the palate. The finish is a-tingle with pleasing sensations: ripe fruit, tangerine zest and a touch of very fresh pine nuts.
“The 2008,” says Jose. “is like a festa. It has a new label, one that recalls the land and the hard work we have done on Pantelleria.”
After 10 minutes: The wine opens up and the apricot becomes even more generous and inviting. I detect notes of ripe figs.
After 15 minutes: A generous mouthful. The sensation of a comforting cloud of very ripe apricots on the nose. The palate, too, reveals a broad, complex range of flavors.
After 20 minutes. It maintains its luscious generosity.
Last year I served some Italian friends a bottle of 2005 Ben Rye. Let me recount that event here. We served the wine with a Grand Marnier infused cake, decorated with orange slices and gold- flaked pieces of chocolate.
Donnafugata’s Ben Rye 2005 (see December 2009 Diary). Golden tinged with orange. A fresh, full perfume of orange blossoms, mandarin oranges and acacia honey. These ideas carry through onto the palate. High-toned. An idea of dried apricots. The richness is lifted and shaped by sprightly acidity.
We scored big points with our friends, particularly Ugo. (Ugo, like most Italians, just does not “get” the pleasures of older vintages.) The Ben Rye, however, brought comments like: “It has such elegance!” Ugo turned to his wife, Stefi, and said: “Remember when I saw this wine at the restaurant in Trieste and I said: these people have good taste!”
“Is this a Pantelleria?” asked Stefi.

“This is Pantelleria!” replied Ugo, raising his glass.

Italian Sparkling Wine