APRIL 2019

VINITALY 2019

As always in these diaries, I only write about wines that I find exceptional: wines that offer good value for money or wines that give profound pleasure (both sensually and intellectually).  

FATTORIA ZERBINA ( www.zerbina.com)

1997 Pietramora (100% Sangiovese) Fresh, pure, ever-evolving fruit (dark cherries, slightly dried cherries, a broad plummy-ness). Fruit so firmly mixed that red berry and cherry fruits merge into one flavor. Silky sensations from the start though to the long finish.

2007 Pietramora (100% Sangiovese) Youthful. On the palate it is what Italians would describe as croccante – this is a cross between crisp and chewy.  “It took a while for this wine to open”, says Cristina Geminani, winemaker and owner of the estate. It can easily go on giving juicy pleasure for another 10 years.

Zerbina House Style:  Freshness, vibrancy and purity of fragrances and flavor. Exceptionally well-made and long-lived wines.

I first wrote about Cristina and her winery for Decanter way back in 1990. But I knew her wines from my time working for the Italian Trade Commission in New York, and, when I moved to London in 1987, my eventual husband Michael imported her wines. So, when I say that Zerbina has a consistency of style and quality that spans decades, I know whereof I speak.

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NOTE: “I know whereof I speak” is a fancy way of saying: “I know what I am talking about”.

CONTINI (www.vinicontini.com/en )

1995 Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva  A gold/orange, with vibrant orange highlights an clear rim. A bolt of flavour:  a creamy sensation shaped by hints of fig Newtons and hazelnuts, with peaks of tangerine citrus. A dance of flavors that emerge and recede, to re-emerge in the long, lingering, ever-evolving finish.

I had not tasted this wine in twenty years. One sniff and I was carried right back to that moment when I tasted it in the winery. “Burton Anderson described it as being like a dream,” said Mr. Contini.

VILLA BUCCI (www.villabucci.com)

2015 Villa Bucci Rosso (70% Montepulciano, 30% Sangiovese)

This wine is defined by its extraordinary balance. Elegance and ripeness. Round yet sleek. Supple on the palate, like a bolt of silk unfurling.  This is a wine that will continue to give pleasure for the next couple of decades.  

I have been tasting and writing about this producer since the early 1990. The wines have never let me down.

VIGNALTA

2015 Arqua (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet, plus other red varieties)

A note of tar on the warm, caressing nose, a joyous buoyancy of velvety-cloaked acidity. A pleasing weave of fragrances: ripe red plums, brambles and a touch of raspberry. The plate follows the nose.  

I first net Lucio Gomiero 27 years ago! I asked him to pose for a goofy picture…and he did.

DI MAJO NORANTE (www.dimajonorante.com/)

2016 Tintilia del Molise (Tintilia is an indigenous variety, grown principally in Molise)

A lovely texture, not quite knubbly, not quite velvet – it is an intriguing mid-point between the two sensations. A veritable kaleidoscope of sensations on the palate. The fragrance is an attractive blend of fruit (wild blackberries, brambles) and floral (blossoms) sensations. A gentle spiciness.

In 2006 I was asked by my US publisher to pick 12 wineries to include in an “Italian Vineyards” calendar. Di Majo Norante was one of those I chose.  

PATERNOSTER (www.paternostervini.it)

2015 Don Anselmo (100% Aglianico del Vulture) A rich brown/dark plum, with a sheen of dusty rose. The perfume rises: a flash of toffee and a sprinkling of freshly-ground black pepper over firm fruit. A tanginess on the lingering finish.

The average age of the vines: 50 years.

One sniff and I was right back to Basilicata. A little table set up outside (but under an overhanging roof). There were one or two other people at the table and a…ah…Paternoster-man (maybe Vito?) standing to the right of the table. Twilight sounds were starting to quiet down. Very nice wine/very nice moment.  

And then…

PRÁ (Graziano) (www.vinipra.it)

2018 Soave “Otto” (named for a much-loved dog) (100% Garganega)

Very perfumed, full and appealing. On the palate, an explosion of greengage plums, pears and apricots, infused with floral notes. Michael found banana chips on the nose.

REVÌ 2016 Cavieliere Nero Rosé Riserva (100% Pinot Nero)

Enticing notes of cassis and strawberries. A floral note I could not define. Mr. Malfer provided the exact flower: Nigritella (mountain orchid).

GUALDO DEL RE (www.gualdodelre.it) Senzansia (100% Pinot Nero)

Fresh, with an appealing grapiness.

Albino Piona www.albinopiona.it2018 Bardolino

Strawberry notes on the nose that are echoed on the palate. Freshness and finesse. Sprightly.  

March 2019

12 March Dentist and Wine

I return from a visit to the dentist and decide I would like a glass of wine with lunch.  I find dentist visits trying. I, as dentists often tell me, have a “difficult mouth”.

I open a bottle of Rottensteiner Selelct Lagrein Gries Riserva: rich, round fruity, with an attractive dark undertow. Just the right flavors to bring me back from the abyss.

8 March Silvio Piona and a karaoke-esque dinner with Susan H.

Susan picked us up and whisked us out to the Albino Piona estate (www.albinopiona.it), which produces among other wines, Custoza and Bardolino. Lovely, intelligent people (Silvio and Elisa), a plot of mulberry trees that seem like they belong on the set of the original Star Trek…and the wines.  Oh, let’s talk about the wines. I really like them. 

The two that stood out for me. 

The 2016 Custoza had a fresh, near floral perfume which followed on the palate. When I tasted it, I saw a bolt of silk unfurling. There was a sprightliness on the finish. It is an Audrey Hepburn wine.  Those of you who follow my diaries know that this is high praise indeed. It means an elegant, sprightly wine that has the capacity for longevity. That said, this 2016 is drinking well now. Will it easily last for another 5 or so years? Yes. But now it is sublime.

The 2016 Bardolino. Fresh, infused with a vibration of rich berry fruit.

I asked the price for this wine in a shop. The reply: 7 Euros. When I asked why the price was so low, Silvio replied: “Everyone thinks that Bardolino is a wine to drink young, so older vintages are not understood”.  

We tasted wines from older vintages – back to 2013- and all retained their freshness and appeal.

Susan drove us back into town and parked in San Zeno. We set off looking for a restaurant that still had available tables.  We found one that specializes in bollito misto, a Veronese favorite of boiled meat, served with an array of sauces. The food was fine but because it was Woman’s Day there was music. Two women in their late-20s/early- 30s sang – loudly – a variety of songs. When they murdered Peggy Lee’s Fever, I reached breaking point. 

I saw Peggy Lee, when she was portly and old, perform this song in a dark basement club in Greenwich Village – and when she sang Fever it was sexy.  These young women did not seem to understand the words of any song they sang – be it in English or in Italian. Why attempt to sing professionally if you do not have a visceral connection with the words and music?  Alas.

But the company was good and we had some laughs – as usual.

March 6 Off and Away to Alto Adige with Fede!

I love to take these car trips with Federica S. She has interesting tastes in vocal music and I always hear something new.  She also listens to music in the same way as I do. This means we do not have to fill up the car with useless small talk.  We just listen to the music. (And occasionally sing along). Oh, it is heaven to look at the mountains and float away on the emotion in the songs.

We arrive at the Hans Rottensteiner winery.  (http://www.rottensteiner-weine.com/it/).

First a little Alto Adige Lesson.

For red wines, the two most prominent varieties are Lagrein (deeply colored ruby) and Schiava (a paler hue). The two best known Schiava-based wines are Santa Maddalener (a.k.a. St. Magdelener) and Caldaro.

2018 Vigna Premstallerhof St. Magalener Classico: clean, pale plume-juice color, a smoky tone on the nose, tight. The flavour is firm and lingering, becoming almost cherrylike as it evolves. “Persistence has always been its strength,” says Hannes Rottensteiner.   

January 2019










I spent January reading, writing, painting and thinking about how we measure time.
 
The only wine I enjoyed was Villa Bucci Riserva 2014.  It never fails to please me. It has the body and substance to let you know that you are drinking a Real Wine, yet maintains supple elegance on the palate.
 
Here is a photo of a work in progress: Stanley and I waiting for the mothership to land.
 
 

The Venetian Hills: A Connoisseur’s Companion to the Colli Euganei

DSCN0110This book was conceived in an elevator in Singapore. I was there to participate in a mega-tasting – wines from around the planet in a vast multistoried venue. I was standing in front of an elevator, the doors opened and there was Frank Zanovello, one of my favorite wine producers. On the ride up we groused about how difficult it is to sell wines from the Colli Euganie abroad because people outside Italy are afraid to pronounce the name. It is eh (as in pen), oo (as in too), gah (as in father), nay (as in say). Eh.oo-gah-nay. By the time we reached our vertical destination it was decided that I should write a book about the zone. I have always found the Euganean Hills beautiful and strange an quite unlike any other place on earth. So I was delighted to investigate further. For a couple of years I made regular trips there gathering information, interviewing people, tasting wine, visiting restaurants. And then the funding for the book wandered away. I finished the manuscript and put it in the box under my desk, the resting place of good ideas that have passed away. Six years later, I received a phone call from Franco telling me that the Strada del Vino of the Collie Euganei was looking for a 2015 project. Bim-bam-boom. The manuscript became a book.

MY BOOKS


Matching Wine with Asian Food: New Frontiers in Taste
.  My colleague Edwin Soon and I wrote this book out of our common love of cooking and our shared passion for wine. In it we have distilled our experience into an uncomplicated method for matching wines from around the world with the flavours of Asian cuisines. The book contains fifty recipes from China, India, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia, along with ample wine suggestions.

How this book came to be:

This book sprang from some snapshots of vineyard dogs and was nurtured at swimming pools in Italy and Singapore. I met Edwin Soon on a journalists trip.  He had a camera and I did not.  I love dogs of all shapes and sizes and on this particular trip we saw a pack of fine, sweet-faced animals. Edwin took some photos and promised to send them to me once he was back in Singapore. Frankly, I did not expect to see these photos because promises made on journalist trips are seldom kept. However, a few weeks later a large envelop arrived from Singapore. I wrote Edwin a “thank you” email.  Soon we were regularly exchanging emails. Naturally we began to write to each other about matching food and wine. We both kept coming across the notion that Sauvignon Blanc made an ideal partner for Thai food, an idea with which neither of us agreed. We felt that a less herbaceous wine was called for and settled on the floral and slightly mineral notes of a top-flight Soave. Every snippet of wine pairing lore that struck us as inappropriate inspired a fresh volley of e-mails. From hypothetical musings we began to test our theories in Singapore and Verona and points in-between.  We would meet up periodically on journalist trips and, by the pool while our colleagues were resting, we began developing our ideas on pairing Asian food with wines from around the world. So, dear readers, this book exists because I wanted a picture of a dog!

Wines of Italy. I tasted and researched the history of over 300 Italian grape varieties for this book. I wrote it for wine lovers and those who work with Italian wines. I also include recipes, which can enhance the pleasure offered by wines made by these unusual varieties. You will find all the old favourites – such as Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio,  Primitivo and Nero d’Avola –  as well as varieties with potential – such as Garganega, Timoraso and Uva di Troia.

How this book came to be:

I have worked with Italian wines for some twenty-five years, often taking trips to various parts of the country to visit producers and taste their wines. Invariably in the late 1990s and early years of the new century producers would present me with wines made from Cabernet and Chardonnay grapes. This disturbed me deeply as I knew of Italy’s patrimony of unique varieties. I would always ask the producers if they had anything else to show me and slyly they would pull out other bottles of wines made from local grapes. When I asked why they had not presented these first, producers replied that American, English and European wine buyers had told them that “international” consumers would not be able to understand the flavors and fragrances of these varieties and therefore would not buy them. This, made my blood boil. My feeling was that consumers would appreciate these wines if information about them was presented properly. So I decided to write a book about indigenous grape varieties that would help sommeliers, wine buyers and consumers make informed decisions.

Bacchus at Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes and Victorian Wine Lore. The great friendship between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson began with a chance meeting in a bar. Bearing this in mind, I decided to write about every wine, spirit and beer mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories. This developed into a study of Victorian drinking habits, including information about the best vintages (with tasting notes written in an age when people were not afraid to express their exuberant enthusiasm or icy contempt), details on drinks advertising, a look at a Victorian cellar and medicinal uses of wine, along with a fine compendium of popular Victorian and Edwardian cocktail recipes. Of course, there are chapters comparing the art of wine tasting with the art of detection, and the way Sherlock Holmes’s knowledge of wine led to the resolution of criminal investigations, as well as an essay on what drives wine merchants to crime (their motives have not changed).

Baker Street Irregulars on Bacchus at Baker Street:

“Patricia Guy discusses the wine, beer and spirits, and the barkeepers and wine-merchants found in the Canon with flavor and humor.” Peter Blau, BSI, ASH

“Ms. Guy speculates with expert authority setting the references firmly in their historical context. She goes intofascinating detail…” Roger Joohnson, BSI

How this book came to be:

Several years ago I gave a speech during the Sherlock Holmes birthday celebration held in New York City. I choose to speak about the kinds of wines and spirits Dr. Watson would have administered. At the end of the event I was stopped by a platoon of ladies and gentlemen who asked if I were writing a book about this subject. After thirty minutes of reflection, I said to myself: Why not!  And thus Bacchus at Baker Street, my first book, was born. I recently reworked the manuscript, adding new chapters, more Victorian cocktail recipes and updating the information on contemporary wine. I will always love this little book. I am happy to say that it is now available on Amazon.com.

Katherine Karlson and I edited and contributed to Ladies, Ladies! The Women in the Life of Sherlock Holmes. These ladies – whether love interests, femmes fatales, or independent career women – faithfully mirror the changes and challenges real women faced in the nearly half century during which the famous detective stories were published.  This illuminating and entertaining anthology of original essays, poems, classic British music hall ditties, and insightful pockets of history examine topics ranging from libations to libido, perfumes to prejudice, in the context of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  It will delight all explorers through the cultural landscape of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

How this book came to be:

For nine years I lived in New York City. My first job there was as manager of the Mysterious  Bookshop. Not surprisingly all my closest friends in the city then as now are mystery book readers. I became an Adventuress of Sherlock Holmes and, later when I started to travel and then live in Europe, I kept up my friendships via post and the occasional visits to the city for the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Bash in January. I moved to Verona in 1991 and while I love living in Italy, it is safe to say that Sherlockians are scarce. I began to miss the camaraderie of mystery buffs and the Adventuresses in particular. So I devised a plan that would keep up our contacts.  Why not, I thought, compile a book about the women in the Sherlock Holmes stories and invite all my pals to contribute. Everyone I asked happily jumped on board! And that is how Ladies was born.

Speaking of Wine is written in English (with a precise Italian translation on every facing page).  It includes terms used in viticulture, winemaking, tasting and business. It is designed as a language aid for Italians and English-speakers who work with Italian wines.

How this book came to be:

I was asked to join Le Donne del Vino, an organization made up of women who work with Italian wine either as winemakers, producers, marketers or journalists. I was whining one afternoon to the president of the Veneto chapter, Nadia Zenato, about how I missed teaching tasting. I am good at it and it gives great pleasure to help people hone their abilities. She promptly suggested that I do a “Wine Tasting in English” course for Italian wine producers and restaurateurs. I repeated this course several times, each time adding to my list of Italian-English words about tasting, viticulture, winemaking and sales. Often during Vinitaly, the annual wine trade fair held in Verona, I would be approached by former students who would ask for another photocopy of my wine vocabulary because, they said, their importers from the United States and England had taken (some used the word “stolen”) their copy of my text.  At a tasting in Piedmont I met two English teachers and we teamed up to make this useful little book.

Great Wine Tours of the World is a glossy, photo-filled book that takes a look at famous wine zones in Europe and the New World.

How this book came to be:

There is no story of creative serendipity here. I merely opened my email one day to find a request from the editor to do the Italian chapters for this book.  Writing about Tuscany and the Veneto is so easy for me.

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Other books which I wrote or contributed to:


These Photos Just In

It is all very romantic living in a 15th century palazzo in the centro storico of Verona. However, this is not the best location for wireless internet service. There are days when the only way to get a firm connection is to sit on a crate in a certain corner of the back balcony. (I do not believe the crate is essential in this process but location certainly is.) I have decided to blame the random placement of the photos in June diary on the iffy connection.

At any rate, two very nice images arrived today and I thought they should be added to the June Diary. The first is from Lorenza Vitali, of Witaly (www.witaly.it). It is a photo of me and Sra. Pezzi, owner of Fattoria Paradiso and the other is Burt Bacharach and Franco Ziliani, taken at the concert organized by Berlucchi.

Future Projects for 2011

I have finished my memoir, “Hitchhiking Into the Wine Trade”, and hope to have it published within the year.

I, like practically every other mystery reader, am writing a detective novel. I will not tell you what it is about. However, I will tell you what it does not address. The book has no graphic autopsies, no international terrorist plots, no psychopathic serial killers and no abusive ex-spouses. Remember when detective fiction used to be entertaining? Well, that is my goal: to entertain. We shall see what develops.

Great Wine Tours of the World

Is a glossy, photo-filled book that takes a look at famous wine zones in Europe and the New World.


How this book came to be:

There is no story of creative serendipity here. I merely opened my email one day to find a request from the editor to do the Italian chapters for this book. Writing about Tuscany and the Veneto is so easy for me.

Speaking of Wine

Is written in English (with a precise Italian translation on every facing page). It includes terms used in viticulture, winemaking, tasting and business. It is designed as a language aid for Italians and English-speakers who work with Italian wines.


 

How this book came to be: 

I was asked to join Le Donne del Vino, an organization made up of women who work with Italian wine either as winemakers, producers, marketers or journalists. I was whining one afternoon to the president of the Veneto chapter, Nadia Zenato, about how I missed teaching tasting. I am good at it and it gives great pleasure to help people hone their abilities. She promptly suggested that I do a “Wine Tasting in English” course for Italian wine producers and restaurateurs. The course proved to be very popular. With every repetition, my list of Italian-English words about tasting, viticulture, winemaking and sales grew longer. Often during Vinitaly, the annual wine trade fair held in Verona, I would be approached by former students who would ask for another photocopy of my wine vocabulary because, they said, their importers from the United States and England had taken (some used the word “stolen”) their copy of my text. A few years later, at a tasting in Piedmont, I met two English teachers and we teamed up to make this useful little book. It is intended for professionals who work with Italian wine.

Katherine Karlson and I edited and contributed to Ladies, Ladies: The Women in the Life of Sherlock Holmes

These ladies – whether love interests, femmes fatales, or independent career women – faithfully mirror the changes and challenges real women faced in the nearly half century during which the famous detective stories were published. This illuminating and entertaining anthology of original essays, poems, classic British music hall ditties, and insightful pockets of history examine topics ranging from libations to libido, perfumes to prejudice, in the context of the Sherlock Holmes stories. It will delight all explorers through the cultural landscape of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.


 

How this book came to be: 

For nine years I lived in New York City. My first job there was as manager of the Mysterious Bookshop. Not surprisingly all my closest friends in the city then as now are mystery book readers. I became an Adventuress of Sherlock Holmes and, later when I started to travel and then live in Europe, I kept up my friendships via post and the occasional visit to the city for the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Bash in January. I moved to Verona in 1991 and while I love living in Italy, it is safe to say that Sherlockians are scarce. I began to miss the camaraderie of mystery buffs and the Adventuresses in particular. So I devised a plan that would keep up our contacts. Why not, I thought, compile a book about the women in the Sherlock Holmes stories and invite all my pals to contribute. Everyone I asked happily jumped on board! And that is how Ladies was born.