september 2010


30 September Antonio Canova Sculpture Competition at Villa Rizzardi
The Guerrieri Rizzardi winery (makers of award winning Bardolinos and Amarones among other wines) sponsors the Antonio Canova sculpture contest, which is open to sculptors under the age of 35.
The announcement of the winner takes place at the elegant Villa Rizzardi in Negrar, just outside Verona. The views from every window and balcony of the villa are exquisite. The imaginative and mysterious garden that surrounds the villa was designed at the end of the 18th century by Luigi Trezza. It is open to the public from April to October (Thursdays and Saturdays only) from 3 to 7 p.m. The garden’s website: The Guerrieri Rizzardi website is:

My favorite entry in the competition looked like a candy lozenge spat out by a giant alien. My second favorite won the big prize (money and an important exhibition). It was constructed out of metal rods and looked like a shell, a cartoon magpie (think Heckle and Jekyll), or an inflated condom, depending on the viewer’s position in relation to the sculpture, and turn of mind.

RAL 2009 ACP (aka the lozenge) is the work of Simona De Caro.

Radiolare I (the big winner) is the work of Anita Olivetti.

I look forward to next year’s edition.

27 September Le Macchiole
At 6 am we set off from Verona for the Bolgheri area of Tuscany – a 4 hour drive. This zone is near the Tuscan coast and is best known as the home of the Super Tuscan, Sassicaia.
Le Macchiole, a family-owned estate, produces three premium reds – all are single varietals: Paleo (100% Cabernet Franc, since 2001), Scrio (100% Syrah) and Messorio (100% Merlot).

When tasting age-worthy wines I like to leave the wines in the glass and go back periodically to see how they develop. Beside the following notes you will find a reference to the time elapsed from the moment of pouring.

Paleo 2007 A blue ruby to a bright ruby rim. Refreshing. A soft cloud of fruit rendered vibrant by sprightly acidity. The palate echoes the nose. It has an appealing tingle on the medium-long finish.

After 5 min: the flavor of cherry skins supported by juicy pulp emerges.

After 10 min: a certain pleasing grassiness developes.

After 15 min: a light fresh tobacco slur. All these subtle changes bode well for the wine’s future.

“To make enjoyable wines is our goal,” says Cinzia Merli, owner of the estate.

Scrio 2007 Deep, dense color. A certain knubbly texture on the palate. A shadow of spiciness. I feel youth. The components are still separate. It might be interesting to try this wine in a year or two.

After 5 min: It still has a high-toned quality. It is not a typical Syrah.

After 20: the nose calms down, a certain plum-like flavor emerges and an undertow of cocoa. The fact that it improves dramatically after 20 min means that it is most definitely a wine that will take time (and lots of it) to show its true worth.

Messorio 2007 A soft diffused blue-tinged hue with a clear rim. It has well-knit, brambly fruit, shot through with zest. On the palate it is like a bolt of velvet unfolding. It has a long, elegantly fruity finish. It will be very interesting to try in a year or two.

After 15 min: It maintains its lush character. A fine freshness, like citron, emerges like a wave and washes over the satisfying wholeness of the fruit. A squirt of juicy mulberry gushes through the flavor.

I also tasted the Paleo 2004 (an herbaceous tang and zesty acidity), Paleo 1997, and the Scrio 2000 (still near black and unyielding).

Messorio 2001 The nose is filled with soft appealing fruit lifted by a breeze of acidity. Full but firm. The palate follows through from the nose: rich fruit and fine acidity. This is a very satisfying wine.

After 15 min: Lovely. Stays firm. The fruit compresses but is still appealing.

After 20 min: The wine’s generosity returns.

26 September Nicolis Amarone
I have been fortunate enough to taste the 2004 Nicolis Amarone twice this month. This is always a satisfying experience. The wine is full and fragrant. The scent of ripe, alcohol drenched cherries follows through onto the palate and continues on in to the finish.

25 September The Masi Prize
The Masi wine company started this truly international initiative twenty nine years. It is, therefore, little wonder that the event runs as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. It is organized by the Masi Foundation and is intended to draw attention to individuals who have achieved prominence in cultural and vinicultural sectors. Past winners have included Pierre Cardin (he was born in the Veneto!) and international wine luminaries like Hugh Johnson and Selma Long. This year’s winners: Francesco Tullio Altan, Diana Bracco di Silva, Mario Brunello, Sergi di Nekrsi and Peter Esterhazy.

The Masi Foundation website:

16 September Trentino Ferrari
We take the train to the city of Trento to attend the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Segnana Distillery. It, like Lunelli still wines,Surgiva mineral water and the Ferrari sparkling wine company, is owned by the Lunelli family.

First things first: Trentino (the southern half of the double barreled region, Trentino-Alto Adige) is north of the Veneto and south of the Alto Adige, which borders Austria. Trentino is a major producer of Italian sparkling wine; the undisputed jewel in the crown, with regard to this sector, is the Ferrari wine company. The Ferrari house style can be summed up in the words “graceful pleasure”.

We meet at Villa Margon, high in the hills a few miles from Trento. The villa, whose rooms are luxuriantly frescoed, dates from the 16th century. It is surrounded by mountains and the air is rich with the exhilarating fragrance of damp earth and mulchy undergrowth. It is open to the public on certain days. To book a visit write to

We then adjourn to the family’s Locanda Margon restaurant, to dine and to taste the Segnana Grappa Anniversario. Aged for 12 years, it cannot really be described as typical grappa. It is much more like a fine Armagnac: smooth, warm, fragrant. There are only 1860 bottles made, 1860 being the year of the founding of the distillery.

We drink copious amounts of Ferrari’s Perle 2004 (a fine balance between citrus freshness and ripe creaminess), Perle Rose (a softness weaves its way through vibrant red fruit freshness) and Riserva Lunelli 2003 (a creamy undertow, with fine acidity).

The following day we tour the Ferrari winery. Visitors are welcome and tours can be arranged by simply phoning or writing to the company.