JULY 2011

Sparkling wine, please
It is hot and humid. In this kind of weather my favorite beverages are in order of preference: sparkling water with a slice of lime, unsweetened ice tea with a slice of lemon, ice-cold beer or….good sparkling wine.

Here are the sparkling wines that have buoyed me through this hotisimo and humidisimo month.
Franciacorta Rose Brut 2006 from Villa (fruity and elegant), Equipe5 Brut Riserva (fresh and easy), Guistino B. 2010 from Ruggeri (juicy fruit and sprightly), Zamuner Rosé (crisp, with a fine weave of berry fruit).

Amarone fans can leap down to the July 11&12 entry. I was fortunate enough to be able to taste 144 Amarones blind over a 2 day period.

July 26 A San Gio Idle at Le Vigne di San Pietro
Carlo Nerozzi and his business partner Giovanni Boscaini host the San Gio Video Festival (www.sangiofestival.it) jury and participants at their immaculate Le Vigne di San Pietro estate (www.levignedisanpietro.it)

Carlo Nerozzi prepares to dish up the eggplant parmigiano
Giovanni Boscaini

2010 Custoza (made from a blend of Garganega, Trebbiano, Cotese, Tocai and Incrocio Manzoni) Bright. Very fresh and fruity. Apricot and pear flavors unfold on the palate. Pure and supple. The flavors and fragrances are still firm and bright after 15 minutes in the glass. This is excellent wine.

Rita and her lover Bertino
Haruna Kawanishi posing

July 25 San Gio invades Accordini’s new winery

Ugo ponders while Tiziano Accordini discusses indiginous varieties

For the past 17 years our pal Ugo has organized the San Gio Video Festival. Jurors and film types from around the world – Japan, China, The US, France, Spain, Iran…and the list goes on – descend on Verona from the 23 to the 27th of July. Ugo always arranges morning visits to vineyards for the visitors. Today we are off to visit Accordini. I have long been a fan of this estate’s wines and it is a pleasure to see their new hilltop winery.

2010 Valpolicella Classico Vibrant ruby. Fresh, fruity. Almost grapefruit at first. Bright cherry flavor that expands with a bit of time in the glass. Very clean and appealing on the palate.

2008 Valpolicella Classico Ripasso “Acinatico” Deep ruby color. The nose is immediately appealing, with clear cherry fruit fragrances. Mouth-filling an lively.

The 2007 Amarone is deeply colored ruby. Ripe cherry notes dance across the palate, a cinnamon spiciness infuses the flavor.

July 15 More Wine…107 to be exact!!

Greta & Bernie

Bernardo picks me up in his little convertible, which to me looks like something Malibu Barbie would drive, and we head out to Valpolicella for round three for me and round six for Bernie in the tasting marathon.

Today we do whites, Veneto IGTs made from indigenous varieties and sweet wines. Again all the wines are tasted blind.

The high scorers (90) for me are the following:
Teroldego 2007 and Calto 2005, both produced by Marion and Palazzo della Torre 2008 and La Poja 2007, both produced by Allegrini

For sweet wines, I gave my highest score (90) to 2007 Recioto de Valpolicella from Santa Sofia.

July 13 My Cesar Milan Moment
I am walking home from the vegetable market. I stop to chat with a woman and her dog Coco (well, I chat mostly with the dog.) The woman asks me what to do about her little (10 pound), nervous dog, who barks every time another dog passes the windows of her office. I tell her to say no in a firm way and to place her hand on the dog’s shoulders/neck – nothing aggressive, just enough to get his attention and communicate that she are in charge.

“So, it is not a good idea to hit the dog,” she says.

“No,” I say, shocked at the very idea of hitting a creature that weighs less than my handbag. “All you will do is create a dog who is afraid of you. Image how sad life would be if you were afraid of your master,” I say.

There is a song in my heart when I leave this woman: (if she follows my advice) I will have saved a doggie from a series of useless whacks!

July 11 & 12 The Big Amarone Tasting 144 – yes 144 – wines!

All the wines are tasted blind (this means that the tasters are unaware of the wine’s identity) in an air conditioned room in the Valpolicella Consorzio office. Greta, who works for the Consorzio, has bagged and tagged all the bottles. (For those not used to large-scale blind tastings, the preceding phrase refers to slipping all the bottles into cloth bags with draw string tops and attaching a numbered tag.).

There are six tasters. The tasting has been organized by Bernardo Pasquali for the Vini Buoni d’Italia Guide. The guide only lists wines that are made from indigenous varieties.

My absolute favorite Amarone in this blind tasting (the one that got my highest score ever – 95 ++) was 2006 Amarone “Casa dei Beppe” from Viviani.

I have long been a fan of Viviani wines and it was wonderful to have my convictions confirmed within the context of a blind tasting that included 144 wines. Hip, hip, hip hooray!

Second: Marion (score: 93) I was also delighted that my esteem for the wines of Marion were confirmed in this blind tasting.

Other producers who presented a wine that scored 90 on my list include: Venturini, Ca’La Bionda, Speri, Tommasi, Guerrieri Rizzardi, Villa Bella, Brunelli, Tenuta Sant Antonio (with “Campo degli Giglio”), Musella, Castellani, Villa Monteleone, Accordini, Bertani, Corteforte, Cantina de Negrar, Zeni, and Monte Tondo. I was completely surprised by this last entry because I always think of Monte Tondo as a producer of first-rate Soaves. So I was doubly pleased to see that the estate’s Amarone was also of very high quality.

Those producers who had a wine with a score between 85 and 89: Masi, Begali, Nicolis, Fabiano, Aldegheri, Cecelia Beretta, Corte Forte, Ruffo and Zardini.