Coming up in October…another trip to Venice…an English Sparkling Wine tasting, a visit to Lambrusco-land…an historic tasting of Recioto di Soave, an interview with Stefano Inama and more…


September 2013

September 29 – Sparkling Menu with Villa

1 - sparkling menuClementina P. picks us up and we whiz up to the wine zone of Franciatorta to participate in the judging of the 10th annual Sparkling Menu event at the Villa winery. Five top chefs are presenting dishes to match three styles of Villa Franciacorta.


To remind those who need it: Franciacorta has the most rigorous production regulations of any European sparkling wine zone and around 75% of Franciacorta estates produce less than 100,000 bottles a year.  


The sparkle is put into Franciacorta wines by the metodo classic (a.k.a. Champagne method), that means that second fermentation (the one that makes the bubbles) takes place in bottle.

This beautiful zone is less than an hour away from such tourist centers as Milan, Verona and the resort towns around Lake Garda. It lies between the city of Brescia and Lake Iseo in Central Lombardy, which borders Switzerland. Glacial movement and meltdown created the landscape: therefore the soils are particularly rich in lime, sand and mineral deposits and vary markedly in composition from site to site. The rocky terrain provides good drainage as well as retaining heat.  Lake Iseo also acts as a heat accumulator which moderates the temperature of the zone and creates an almost Mediterranean climate on the sunny southern edge of the Alps.

The Villa ( house style can be summed up with the words Easy Elegance.

The wines: Franciacorta Diamant Pas Dose Millesimato 2006, Emozione Brut Millemismato 2009, Rose Brut Millesimato 2009 and Rose demi-sec.

The Emozione was paired with Patata Soffici Uova e Uova, and won out over the competition as the best food and wine match.  The recipe was created by Enrico Bartolini of the Devero Risorante in Cavenago di Brianza, near Milan.  It was a version of potato puree over caviar.  The crunchy explosion of the caviar hidden under the creamy potatoes was a treat for the palate.

September 20 Lunch with Gian Paolo at the Osteria Carroarmato   

Gian Paolo and colleague, with Annalisa in the background
Gian Paolo and colleague, with Annalisa in the background

September 18  Slouching toward Chievo-ville

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMichael, Stanley and I walk to Chievo (an hour’s hike from our place in Verona.)  We are here to eat 10Euro paella (unfortunately made with risotto rice) and watch the players and owners.  Stanley mainly stays under the table and receives pieces of sausage and sauce –soaked break from our many tablemates.   



September 14 An Enchanted Evening in Custoza-ville

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAngelo P., PR Whiz and Gourmet Food Afficionado has organized another journalist-dinner that actually feels like a real gathering of friends. We are at Villa Venier.  Cool music. Lively conversation.  The wine that stood out for me: Custoza from Le Vigne di San Pietro:  Bright, fresh, apricot tinged flavor.  Supple and pleasing on the palate.  Good length.    

September 11 Radio Free Patricia

Michael and I are interviewed on Roaring Success Radio about the Venice Film Festival. We mainly talked about Ugo and Frank Zappa.   The host of the show is also a Zappa Fan, and in a follow-up email we traded quips about Flo and Eddie and Jimmy Carl Black.  When fans meet there is always that moment of exchanging “insider” data to prove their adoration of their icon. 


September 6 – The Venice Film Festival

Ugo, holding a platter of eels, being interviewed by various television reporters
Ugo, holding a platter of eels, being interviewed by various television reporters

Geppy picks us up at 11 and we head off to Venice to spend the day at the film festival and to attend Ugo’s Bisato D’Oro Prize, given by a jury of “independent” journalists.  “Independent” is such an elastic word.  Bisato, by the way, is the Venetian word for eel. 


We took the car ferry over to the Lido.  I love the Lido…it is like a wholesome, old fashioned suburb-  but with nice beaches and the annual chance to see a movie star.


We went to Dietro le Quinte di Otto e ½ (Behind the scenes of Fellini’s 8 and ½).  We were expecting a documentary. Instead the presentation consisted of a slide show of images and the reminiscences of the photographer Gideon Bachmann, who was on hand.  He is in his 80s, lived and worked in New York, Rome and visited London when it was still swinging.  He followed Fellini around snapping shots of famous beauties of the 60s and 70s.  He was in an auditorium at the Venice Film Festival surrounded by awe-struck film students.  A fine life one would think.  A life one might envy. 


11After the presentation, Michael went to speak to Bachmann because Ugo had asked Michael to invite him the Ugo’s prize-giving aperitif do.  During out little chat here is what Bachmann said:  “I wasted 40 years of my life in Italy.”  This was said with such rancor… For thirty seconds I thought: How sad.  Then I thought: How Pathetic. 


We saw two documentaries: La Voce di Berlinguer. By Mario Sesti and Teho Teardo.  Excellent.


And then….we saw Summer 82 When Zappa came to Sicily directed by Salvo Cuccia. This is a wonderfully organized and very witty and touching documentary.  There is a lovely scene where the town council (in the little town Frank’s dad came from) names a street for Zappa.  There are tears in Dweezil’s eyes when the plaque is unveiled.


I would recommend it to anyone who loves music.  I admit to being a Zappa fan from my teens onward.  When I was in college I helped make silkscreen posters that advertised the bands that played at a club.  Zappa and the Mothers played there twice.  I saw both shows.  Each time the Mothers presentation and music was completely different.  Ah, Frank.  Hot Rats, Legend of the Golden Arches and Two Hundred Motels are among my favorite albums.  (I also have fond memories of Reuben and the Jets)


However, my husband Michael was only vaguely aware of Frank Zappa.  When the documentary ended and the lights came up he said: “We are going to have to buy a CD when we get back to Verona.”  Finally a convert after all these years.

September 4 – The Suavia Girls

waiting at the bus stop with the ever present Sudoku magazine
waiting at the bus stop with the ever present Sudoku magazine

I took the bus to the medieval town of Soave (There is a fine castle overlooking the town, should you decide visit.) and Meri Tessari of the Suavia winery picked me up. A quick ten minute ride brought us to Fittà, the little hilltop village where the Tessari family home and winery are located.  


My favorite quote from the interview:  Meri Tessari: “Other wineries in the zone have branched out into the production of red wines,” said Meri. “But we specialize in white wine. Our future plans are not to enlarge our range but to deepen our knowledge of our two indigenous  varieties – Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave.  To get closer to perfection – if that’s possible.”

We tasted one of my favorite wines: 2011 Monte Carbonare.  It was like inhaling fresh, ripe pears.  On the palate it was an elegant spinning-top of flavors: lemon verbena, pears and the zesty minerality that is a hallmark of wines grown in this area.

The morning I visited the Tessaris had just received the email from Gambero Rosso Guide that this wine had won Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses), a top score in the Italian wine world.  

September 2 – Romano Dal Forno

Dal Forno waiting with me at the bus stop.
Dal Forno waiting with me at the bus stop.

I took the bus out to the Ilasi Valley to interview Romano Dal Forno. I first interviewed him 1999. At that time he said: “There are two ways to make wine. You can follow fashion and try to make wine to satisfy the demands of consumers, or you can make a wine that pleases you and thereby creates an interest among consumers. The first way makes you a slave, the second way you are the master.” 


This time around my favorite Dal Fornoa quote is:  “On my birthday – June 4 – we had a dinner party for friends. I opened a magnum of 1994 Recioto – you could hear the angels sing.  It is a great product. A wine like this should be on a pedestal like Sauternes or Eiswein.  I think we should venerate it, like the reliquary of San Gennaro in Naples.”


Do I have to tell you that Dal Forno is a legendary winemaker, whose Amarones and Valpolicellas have richness and extraordinary longevity?  You already knew that, right? 


September 1 Romagna on Parade

In keeping with my vow to taste a wine from Emilia Romagna every month…

Let me remind you about where Romagna is.  It is separated from Tuscany by the Apennine ridge. The hills on the Romagan side are gentler and have soils rich in limestone and clay, and the climate is mitigated by soft sea breezes from the Adriatic sea. Besides its wine, the region is perhaps best known for its seaside resorts and as the birthplace of Italy’s greatest film director Federico Fellini, and for its fine restaurants, like the world renowned San Dominico at Imola.

This month’s wine is from Fattoria Zerbina ( Tergeno IGT Ravenna Bianco 2012.  A blend of Albana (late harvest) and Chardonnay.  The wine is lightly sweet, with a rich and seductive texture on the palate. A tangy minerality is sprinkled through ripe peach and apple tones.  Long finish…very satisfying.   The backlabel suggests serving it with crustaceans….yes! Lobsters, perhaps?  I had it with liver pate on toast.

Goodbye to Michael's ancinet bedroom slippers
Goodbye to Michael’s ancient bedroom slippers