First Things First: Books.
This is something I wrote for the book Raising Global Children by Stacie N. Berdan and Marshall S. Berdan.
When I decided to see Europe for myself – and not through the eyes of Frances Hodgson Burnett, Arthur Conan Doyle or Victor Hugo – I was ready. My childhood reading had prepared me. Novels had shown me other ways of approaching life, of making decisions, of assessing the world around me.
Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and R.L. Stevenson showed me wickedness and taught me to keep my eyes open for both evil and good. Ray Bradbury and T.H White reinforced in me a delicious sense of being alive in a world filled with wonders.
Novels are where children learn to solve problems and sympathize with people unlike themselves. They also learn that there exist different sets of manners and attitudes from those in their own homes. These are fundamental characteristics for a person who wants to live in a world beyond narrow national borders.
A well-written novel allows a child to live in the skin of another person – the hero – and to hereby understand heroic behavior: defending the weak, forgiving the foolish, having the confidence to take that first daring step into the world alone. In short: to grow up. It allows them to recognize that the world isn’t either black or white: it is in fact in glorious Technicolor.
23 through 27 San Gio Video, Vino and Salami festival
Every year (for over two decades) Ugo organizes – in a manner of speaking – a video festival, which is held in a Verona piazza. Films – both short and long – are shown every afternoon and evening for anyone who wants to draw up a chair and watch. A WONDERFUL PHOTO of my favorite judges at the festival has repeatedly failed to load….how sad. Imagine 4 beautiful women in summer resses sitting on a marble diaz. Here it the caption that would go with such an image. From left to right: documentary director Cuini Ortiz (from Argentina), director Elena Gladkova (Russia), actress Erica Rivas (Argentina) and entrepreneur Asal Emanmi (Iran).
My favorite short film this year was The People’s Palaces, a 16-minute film about Moscow’s beautiful and monumental subway stations directed by Elena Gladkova. The rousing score perfectly matched the on screen movement and lent energy to the piece. I asked the director if she had studied music. She replied: “Yes, for many years at school. Also I was a dancer and choreographer.” As soon as I heard that she had been a choreographer everything fell into place. Her sensitive choice of music matched the rhythm so well that something as simple as commuters exiting from a train became as elegant as a ballet.
The juries at the festival (and me a hanger-on) visit a different winery every morning. Here are my favorite visits.
Poggio delle Grazie (www.poggiodellegrazie.it) The two wines that were a big hit with me and the others were the lively, fresh wines made with a natural re-fermentation in bottle: the Rosato made from a blend of Corvina 60 %, Rondinella 40 % + 5 % Garganega Passita, and Bianco made from primarily from Cortese.
We also visited Le Battistelle (www.lebattistelle.it/) I have always liked Battistelle’s Soave Classico, finding it complex with lively flavors of ripe pear and a note of mandarin orange.
We slipped and slid through their heroic vineyard, proving our own heroism in the process.
Lesson: An heroic vineyard is one that is in a location (usually a steep terraced hillside) that makes the use of machinery impossible. So all work in the vineyard must be carried out by hand.
Le Battestille also made my summer dream come true – a hammock in the breeze.
Our merry band also visited other wineries but I don’t feel like writing about them. Remember, in this diary I only write about wines I think are exceptionally appealing.
TIP for wineries: If it is high noon in the middle of summer …and if your visitors are slick with sweat and their skins are turning blotchy with sunburn…then keep the vineyard visit short. If you want to answer general questions or talk about technical issues that have nothing to do with the vineyard your guests are standing in…THEN maybe it would be a good idea to continue the discussion in a cooler place, preferably one where glasses of cold water are on offer.
21 Borgo di Bardolino
Wow! The Guerrieri Rizzardi family has given a new sheen to the town of Bardolino. Their former lakeside winery and villa has been transformed into an elegant complex that includes a wine bar, a pizzeria, a restaurant, a meeting center and holiday apartments – all within the context of a lush, plant-filled garden. The project was piloted by Agostino Rizzardi, who chose his architects and interior designers well. The look is harmoniously eclectic, and manages to be both stylish and comfortable. And did I say dogs are welcome? Here is a photo of Otto Rizzardi, whom I met at the event.
10 July Sunday, Sushi and…
We meet up with Susan H. and taste a 1993 Vino da Tavola from COS – Viticoltori di Vittoria (www.cosvittoria.it/). Bright Ruby, fresh, still vibrant cherry fruit a creamy element on the palate. After 15 minutes in the glass, the wine was still firm and appealing. Needless to say, they don’t make it any more
Then we head off for sushi at Zushi. The food was fresh and delicious, the atmosphere cool and, perhaps, more important the staff was kind to Stanley. For his part, Stanley was his impeccably behaved self.
8 July Trentodoc, tra-la-la
Maria Grazia picked me up and we headed for Trentino and the Cantine Monfort winery. (www.cantinemonfort.it)
Lesson: Trentodoc is a name used to encompass quality sparkling wines produced in the Italian region of Trentino. From my personal experience (spanning a couple of decades) I can say that most – if not all – Trentodoc wines are well-made.
This was the case with Monfort’s non-vintage Brut and Rosé. Both wines were fresh, lively and appealing.
As always happens when visiting Trentino in the company of wine journalists, one bright spark decided to blather on about how the name Trentodoc needs to be changed. His arguments have all been heard before – too many times before.
My feeling is that if you want to provide a valid alternative to the name, along with a program that would maintain the wine’s reputation around the world, and even bring it more luster – then take this idea to the directors of the Trentodoc organization. But no, that never happens. All we get it more useless bleating. (Imagine me rolling my eyes and sighing heavily.)
My favorite quote of the day came from journalist Giuseppe C. He said: “My son lives in America and when people ask him where he is from, he says Trentino. Then they ask him: where is that? And he replies: it is between Venice and Paris.”
The Simoni Family, owners of Monfort, are extremely nice. Here is a photo of Lorenzo S. in front of the lavender bush in his wife’s garden. He gave me some to take home. I love Trentino in the summer…cool, breezy and always pleasant, welcoming people.