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 (, 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.  (

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.