On this mid-October day of drizzle and rain, I am tucked away at New York Public Library for the Simply Italian Wines US Tour. After a day of seminars and tastings, I look down at my notes:
I’ve written, retraced, doodled each word until their letters are nearly unfit to read, so often have I heard…and felt…their message throughout the day.
As one who has thought much about the expression of wine through human language, and based upon what I’ve experienced today via my tasting glass, I must say that those five words – Tradition, Quality, Innovation, Place and Family – form a complete language revealing of Italian wine, one spoken as common tongue across the peninsula’s appellations: wines from Italy’s regions are showing more varietal focus, less dependence on wood, shining a brighter light on balance in general. And I get the sense that producers are feeling more confident about throwing away that burdensome yoke of pandering for point scores, concentrating on making the wines they want to make.
Some noteworthy mentions: Ca’ Del Bosco AnnaMaria Clementi Franciacorta 2004 Complex flavors, minerality, full of grace Rivera Il Falcone Castel del Monte Riserva 2006 Power and elegance, smooth, big aromatics Mastroberardino Radici Taurasi 2006 Complex nose and palate, clear as a bell Gradis’Ciutta Collio Bianco Bràtinis 2010 Rich but delicate, with structure and exotic bouquet Gradis’Ciutta Collio Pinot Grigio 2011 Finely-etched Pinot, tons of personality
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of Senza Trucco, an Italian documentary providing a profound look at the soulful, spiritual realities of Italy’s natural wine movement.
The film by Giulia Graglia and Marco Fiumara features four women, producers of organic and biodynamic wines, as they carry out their seasonal work, elegantly captured by the camera in very intimate vignettes against the backdrop of Italy’s gorgeous countryside. Almost minimalist at times, the film is yet saturated with life, land and passion.
“Senza trucco”, which translates as “without make-up”, can be taken here to mean without gimmick or pretense as the protagonists labor to produce real wine, genuine wine…wine “senza trucco”.
The excellent evening of film and wine was organized by Gianni Lovato, aka @gianpadano on Twitter, and included an after-event tasting of wines from each of the four protagonist producers. As I mingled with the crowd during the wine tasting, many comments and conversations shared with me by film go-ers were filled with their praise and appreciation for the film. BTW, for his effort in bringing Senza Trucco to a seated American audience and organizing a corresponding wine tasting, Gianni Lovato IMHO shall forever be a knight of Italian wine.
If you have only but a tasting glass full of passion for wine, you will not want to miss seeing this remarkable documentary Senza Trucco.
Psychologists tell us that most people live in the past with their regrets or in the future with their worries.
Confession: I am, on occasion, guilty of both.
There is an art to living in the moment. In fact, my virtuosity in that pursuit has recently improved somewhat thanks to a bottle of Oddero Barolo 1998 😉
Brilliant garnet in color, the wine showed brooding dark cherries, tobacco and faded roses dominating the nose during the first hour. Smoke, mushroom and tar made their appearances during hour 2. Majestic, fine, silky tannins are totally the main event and lead us to a satisfying finish with notes of dried fruit and licorice.
This Barolo kept me riveted with sheer pleasure to the here and now, transfixed in a moment that lasted an entire evening.
100% Nebbiolo, selected manually. Fermentation / maceration carried out in stainless steel over 20 days. Aged in Slavonian and Austrian oak for 30 months. 6 additional months in bottle.
A great expression of Piedmont terroir from an historic producer.
A quick pull of the chainsaw’s start-cord and the engine sputters to life. Set on the ground to warm up, it sits at my feet purring like some metaphorical cat.
It takes some finesse to fell a tree. The angles of the face and back cuts must work together to create a hinge of sorts, allowing the tree to fall safely to the ground. Hopefully, in the spot where you aimed it.
I squeeze the throttle and the saw growls, biting hard into the tree. From two different angles I open the face cut to 70 degrees. Then, an intersecting back cut. I move away to let the hinge do its work. Cracking. Volumes of air move, tree canopy whooshing past. A massive, dense thud and the ground shivers.
That evening, with tree on the ground, limbed and cut into rounds for firewood, it’s JL Chave’s St. Joseph Blanc ‘Celeste’ 2009 that is talking to me about finesse: supple, soft, gutsy, intense, the wine drinks with good weight on the palate. Elegantly perfumed, unctuous in the mouth. Citrus marmalade, honey-butter, notes of peach and ginger. Vivacious personality with tasty acid and minerality. Big length on the finish.
Primarily Marsanne with (according to sources) a splash of Roussanne grown on granite soils, this Rhone white is a stellar value.
NOTE: I found the wine more open when served on the warm side of chilled.
Tobacco hangs in the curing barns now. Great fields of corn have been cut down to brown stalks returning an expansive feel to the local landscape. Thousands of jack-o’-lantern-orange orbs peek out from among the pumpkin vines.
Fall is rolling into my neck of New England. Today, the world outside seems composed in shades of brown accompanied by a sleepy, rainy day’s soundtrack. But inside, overhead lighting and the sizzling sound of shitake, portobello, porcini mushrooms and shallots hitting the pan turn the kitchen into a lively space. We’ll simmer these in a cream sauce and serve over fettuccine, washing it all down with a bottle of Barolo.
There are professional wine critics who loved Mirafiore’s Barolo 2007. And there are non-professional, but informed palates that have spread the word otherwise. The wine didn’t flex much muscle, frankly, and seemed somewhat contrived at times. Impressions of dried leaves and faded roses for which nebbiolo is famous lacked volume in comparison to other Baroli at similar price points. Nonetheless, the wine was lovely with dinner, showing a gentle firmness of structure and an alluringly soft texture that worked well enough with the mushrooms and cream.