Dear All, I have fallen into internet Hell. A pal decided I needed to change servers. When that was done, all my images for the November diary disappeared. When I try to reinsert them, I am now told that my images are no longer writable by the server. Bear with me….every day a new problem.
November 29 Burgundy in Bardolino
“Shambolic,” calls Francesco T. from across the lobby of the Hotel Caesius (www.hotelcaesiusterme.com).
“Brouhaha,” I reply.
I taught Francesco these words – and other like them – during a particularly bizarre journalist’s trip in Piedmont. (Details in the March 25-27 Diary entry)
We are in Bardolino to taste the wines of Stephane Aladame (www.aladame.fr). Stephane’s 7 hectares of vineyards are in the Montagny zone in Burgundy. At the age of 18 and fresh from enology school, Stephane was offered the opportunity to take over 2 ½ hectares of vineyards belonging to a friend who was ready to retire.
“Mine is not a wine making family,” says Stephane. “My father is in the electrical business. But step by step I slowly learned from practical experience.” Today his elegant wines are championed by no less than Alain Ducasse, Paul Bocuse and Jacques Lameloise, and are found on the list of some 70 Michellin starred restaurants.
2008 Crémant de Bougogne Aladame (100% Chardonnay). A broad texture on the nose – pale apricot. Soft mousse. Clean and fresh, with a gentle wave of light apple/apricot fruit that swells through the long finish. Very attractive.
“You can feel the finesse,” says Bernardo P. (See July diary for more on Bernardo).
2009 Montagny 1er Cru Décuoverte Aladame (100% Chardonnay, fermentation in stainless steel). Straw, with wide clear rim. Bright, fresh. A creamy sensation on the nose: hints of apricot, blossoms, a touch of lemon curd. Again, the gentle wave of pale apricot fruit swells on the middle palate and rolls along through the finish. A sprinkling of minerality and citron-acidity focus the flavor. After 20 minutes the apricot fragrance and flavor becomes rounder and fuller.
2009 Montagny 1er Cru Les Maroques Aladame (100% Chardonnay, ½ in stainless steel, ½ in wood, of which only 5% is composed of new barrels. 30 to 40 year old vines) Straw, wide clear rim. A tight weave of flavors – apricot, graphite, a touch of citron, white blossoms, with bright notes of lemon curd. Fresh and satisfying. After 10 minutes still firm. After 20 minutes it fills out on the palate, gaining weight. A light butterscotch note emerges.
I love the Aladame wines. They do not shout, rather they speak in a civilized tone. They are wines for adults.
P.S. for dog lovers. Katia Ricarelli (the opera singer) was there with her spindly little bastardina, Dorothy.
November 28 More Ghosties
Russell (Atwood) sent me his new play. It will be part of his next down-town (as in lower Manhattan) production. Very scary! Russell has written mystery novels – “East of A” was the first – and has now morphed into a producer and playwright. OOOOOO.
November 26 & 27 Trentodoc
Federica, Queen of the Brenner Pass, whisks us up to join a group of English speaking journalists who are enjoying the annual sparkling wine festival in Trentino. (A province in the Italian Region of Trentino-Alto Adige.) (www.visittrentino.it)
Trentino and Alto Adige are really two distinct regions joined by a bureaucratic hyphen. (It is akin to creating a State called Texas-Louisiana). The two areas are very different not only in terms of terrain and climate but also in terms history, culture and even language. In Alto Adige (which borders Austria) most citizens speak German and Germanic grape varieties (such as Sylvaner, Muller Thurgau) thrive. The subalpine climate means winters are cold, summers hot and night chilly all year round. As the Adige River flows into the province of Trento the valley broadens, the climate is warmer and the cultural ambience becomes noticeably Italian. Trentino produces many of the same varieties as Alto Adige, plus crisp metodo classico (a.k.a. Champagne method) sparkling wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The area also has three notable indigenous varieties. Fruit-filled, red Marzemino (my identifier is an amalgam of blackberries and walnuts), Teroldego (tart cherry-plum, with an almondy note on the finish), and white Nosiola, which produces dry wines and is the main component in the local Vin Santo. My standard identifiers for Nosiolo are a salinity on the palate alongside rather delicate hints of fresh hazelnuts.
.Okay, the lesson is over. Let’s taste. What follows are a few of the wines I particularly enjoyed.
2006 Brut (disgorged 2010) Trentodoc Maso Martis (www.masomartis.it) (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero) Fine yellow-gold. A creamy sensation on the nose. A sprinkle of spice dances across the broad fruit. On the palate there is a lemon curd sensation over fresh fruit (the idea of white peaches). Excellent. Very satisfying.
Brut Rosé (disgorged 2011) Trentodoc Maso Martis (100% Pinot Nero) Color: strawberry juice with a touch of blood orange. Again there is a creamy sensation on the nose that “sets” the fruit fragrances (very light sensation of cherries, raspberries, mulberries, blackberries) A softness of fruit fills the mouth. Clean finish, with lingering berry fruit. I write “Hot-Diggity!” in my tasting notebook.
2005 Perle Rosé Extra Brut Trentodoc Ferrari (80% Pinot Nero, 20% Chardonnay). Elegant salmon color, with broad clear rim. On the nose: ashes (this is a good thing for me), dried red roses, and an idea of strawberries. Very tightly-knit.
1991 Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore Trentodoc (100% Chardonnay) (www.cantineferrari.it) Yellow-gold. Nose: Smooth and full. I breathe it in. I could live in this atmosphere. On the palate: tightly-knit, sensations of fresh hazelnuts, ripe white peaches merge with Bartlett pear notes. Silky freshness, with a vibrant frisson that leaves ideas of peaches and mandarin oranges, fresh creamy hazelnuts and white chocolate. A supremely satisfying wine.
1986 Trento Doc from Roberto Zeni. (www.zeni.tn.it) Reminiscent of zabaglione. A juicy, raisiny aftertaste. Like cream soda on the palate. Texture like heavy silk.
“This was our first experiment to show that Trentodoc can age,” says Roberto.
2008 Teroldego Riserva Superiore Endrizzi (www.endrizzi.it). Rich, lively deep ruby. A sour plum (in a good way) fragrance. A silky perfume. On the palate: a warm infusion of spice and ripe, bruised plums. Excellent Teroldego.
2008 Ritratto Rosso La Vis (www.la-vis.com) (50-50% Lagrein/Teroldego blend) Opaque ruby sheen. A full silky sensation emerges. Well balanced acidity fruit. It is the texture that defines the wine for me – it is like velvet. A ripe cherry wave breaks on the middle palate and extends on through the finish.
2005 Riserva Trentodoc Baltar (100% Chardonnay, 72 months on lees) Rightly-knit. Crisp elegance. This is not a wine that shouts, rather it gives smooth refined pleasure.
2005 Trentodoc Riserva D’Isero (in Magnums, 50 months on the lees) Smooth. Elegant. Compressed. Ripe white peaches on the nose and palate. All of a piece from first sniff to lingering finish. Most of this excellent cooperative’s wines are sold locally.
A producer says: “I am not going to noi you with details.” The Italian word “annoiare” means to bore. I think “noi” may enter my English vocabulary the way “wendiamo” has.
November 16 through 24 New York, New York
I am so happy to be back in New York that I take no notes. What follows is a photo homage to the trip.
The Sherlockian Wedding of the Century (at the Players Club on Gramercy Park)
November 11 &12 In Friuli – Fried Cheese on a Stick
We set out with Alessandra (of the sexy shoes, see September diary) for the castle where this evening’s tasting is to be held. The sky is black. The narrow, twisting road is a shade less than two cars wide. But as there is no traffic this will not be a problem. We seem suspended in total darkness. A milky scrim-like glow from the headlights hits the dark and bounces back. For a second the huge angry shape of a wild boar is caught in the light. I feel I am trapped in a remake of the Blair Witch Project.
We do indeed make it to the 13th century castle: stone floors, high beamed ceilings, leaded glass at the windows, waiters swanning through the tasting rooms bearing trays of deep-fried tit-bits. I am in heaven.
The variety we are focusing on here is Friulano (a.k.a Tocai). I am fond of this variety and am happy to see that it is holding its own. My taste identifiers for Friulano: a slight saline note on the nose alongside scents of wildflowers, good structure and creamy texture. I often find ghosts of apricot and crème patisserie.
2010 Ronco Blanchis (Grape: Friulano, around 80% botritized). 9000 bottles made. Elements of tangerine and mandarins infuse the broad creamy fruit. Zesty acidity. (www.roncoblanchis.it)
“I’ve had this vineyard for around 10 years,” says Lorenzo Pala. “We tried everything to avoid the development of botrytis cinerea. Finally we decided to use the botrytized grapes and see what kind of wine would result.”
Botrytis cinerea is also known as Noble Rot and it is the much sought after component in many of the world great sweet wines (Chateau Yquem, among them). However, the Ronco Blanchis is vinified to dryness. It is an exceptionally interesting wine. It provides flavor sensations I have never found in a dry wine. This wine is worth following.
At dinner we taste
2010 Ronco Blachis Mosso Collio Bianco (The blend includes Friulano, with other grapes, including 17% Chardonnay and 3% Sauvignon Blanc.) I am delighted by this wine. It is forthcoming. The fragrance blossoms, filling the senses: Mandarin, tangerine and greengage plum notes. A vibrancy on the nose and palate. After 20 minutes in the glass it is still fine, firm and fresh. After 25 minutes a distinct apricot undertow emerges. Very interesting wine.
“It’s turbo-charged,” says Michael.
The producer, Lornezo Pala makes 1300 bottles of this particular wine. “I would like to sell 1000 and keep 300 to see how the wine develops over time,” he says.
2010 Scubla Friulano. After 5 minutes the nose mellows. Ripe, yellow plum fruit. Bright acidity. A creamy note on the palate. (www.scubla.com)
Sixty percent of the grapes come from 40+ year old vines.
“Older vines,” says Roberto Scubla, the owner of the estate, “are not as affected by the vagaries of weather. They are better balanced. It’s like people really.”
2010 Obiz Friulano The idea of apricots – a broad creamy texture shot through with sprightly acidity. (www.obiz.it)
“My husband is the winemaker,” says Serena Fedel. “I always recommend that this Fruilano be served with Prosciutto Crostini.”
2010 Ronco del Gelso Malvasia Insonzo del Friuli. Exceptionally nice Malvasia – all hints and suggestions. Nice weight on the palate. (www.roncoelogelso.com)
Dinner on Friday night is at Rosenbar (www.rosenbar.it). Excellent as always: imaginative presentation, well-balanced seasoning.
Lunch on Saturday is at La Subida. (www.lasubida.it) As we enter we are greeted by a lady offering fried cheese (a.k.a. fricco) on a stick. Hooray! The roast deer is lusciously tender. Again the food, presentation and hospitality is impeccable. Plus the restaurant owners have a 19 year old setter named Kelly.
Giancarlo and Ann pick us up and take us to the Anselmi estate. “I know Roberto,” says Giancarlo “Because his wife is from my town, Albaredo d’Adige.”
We enter the vast, artistically lighted winery and take an elevator (a Turkish carpet covering the floor) up to the barrel storage and guest receiving area. Flute music plays. Turkish carpets and large yet elegant candelabras at every turn. Monumental sculptures in carefully lit niches. It is a masterpiece of set design. We leave with a half case of samples.
For all the elegant theatricality of the cantina, the wine I tasted – 2010 Anselmi San Vicenzo. Veneto IGT Bianco (grape variety: Garganega) – is straightforward, with clean, full fruit (dried apricots and pears) on the nose and palate. A dusting of black pepper on the finish. No shadowy depths here.
I harness up Stanley and set off for my hairdressers.
“Where is Camilla?” I ask Donatella, looking around for her cranky, wheezy little dog.
After a pregnant silence, Donatella pushes a cupcake-pink box across the desk. Tiny artificial flowers are tacked on the lid. “Here,” says Donatella. “She died on Friday. We could have buried her in our yard but my husband thought that if we cremated her we could have her with us always even if we moved to an apartment.” She sniffs, holding back tears.
I think: Now is not a good time for her to be cutting hair. However, it was clear that she wanted to talk about her dog so I sat down, took off my glasses and listened to Camilla’s eulogy. Mid-way through, Donatella explodes into tears and excuses herself to have a good cry.
I get home and show Michael my haircut. “It’s not too bad,” he says. “It just needs time to grow out a bit.” He walks around to look at it from a new angle. “Especially in the back,” he says.