Reading through my materials today, I decided to start a new section on my blog called Italian Wine Facts. Today’s factoid is about the first Italian DOC wine. I was surprised to find out that it was Vernaccia di San Gimingnano in 1966. The wine received its DOCG designation in 1993.
Vernaccia is not an easy grape. The wine is generally pretty bitter and acidic. It has to be made from 90% Vernaccia and 10% of other grapes but non-aromatic ones.
I have had many Vernaccia over the years but it has never been my favorite, until this summer when I brought a bottle of wine from Podere la Marronaia called Visla to Cape Cod. It was made with a small percentage of Chardonnay and was at least three years old if not a bit more.
I paired it with this amazing lobster and it was a dream. The slight sweetness of the wine matched that of the lobster while the bitter notes were smoothed out. I know that people don’t think of Vernaccia as a wine to age too long but I had very good success with this one. It was also made by a friend, Barbara Tamburini, but I don’t think that’s why it was better than the others. I think it was just a good wine.
This morning I feel an overwhelming desire to be in Tuscany. I haven’t been in three months which arguably isn’t that long in the scope of things but I’m feeling the need to “sciacquare i panni nell’Arno.” An expression which literally means to rinse your clothes in the Arno but figuratively means to go to Florence and to revitalize your Italian.
Alessandro Manzoni used this expression when he was writing that famed novel of the Riorgimento, “I Promessi Sposi.” Manzoni was a Lombard and he felt that to write in “true Italian,” one needed to go to Florence.
I use the expression to mean I need to go to Italy. That said, thanks to Alfonso’s blog, I was reminded that two new DOCGs were created in Tuscany: Val di Cornia Rosso and Suvereto. While I think the inflation of DOCGs has diminished their meaning, I am pleased that this beautiful corner of Tuscany is being recognized. When I got my degree from the Italian Sommelier Association back in 2004, there were 34 DOCGs…
When I lived in Florence I used to visit the Val di Cornia area frequently. Since I’ve been back in the States, I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting some great people from there and drinking their wines. Nico and Teresa Rossi from Gualdo Del Re are among them.
Nico and Teresa are some of the loveliest people I have met since entering the wine business. Generous and funny, they always bring joy to my heart when I met them. They are also very forward looking, having been the first to hire a young female enologist Barbara Tamburini who has done wonders with their wines and whom I consider a friend. I wrote this post on this area almost three years ago to the day.
I also wrote about another wine I liked from the area, Filare 41, here.
I’m thrilled that the area is getting recognition. Gualdo Del Re is a great place to visit for the wines, the restaurant and the agriturismo. Did I mention that they are about four kilometers from the sea. I’m thinking of getting on a plan tomorrow…
March has started off in a very odd way here in the Big Apple. Cold and snowy is not my idea of the beginning of Spring but then again, everything is unpredictable. The Dow drops 300 points on a daily basis and the only way I find to distract myself from this and other frightening things is to think BIGGER than the last few weeks. One lovely accolade came my way this week from the American Squirrel Blogging Awards. A very funny consolation prize for not even being considered a potential to enter the contest for American Wine Blogging Awards.
It used to be a big thing when your byline was listed second or you didn’t get one at all, now all I want is to be on someone’s blog roll…how things have changed. Consolation comes in many forms and in many grape varieties lucky for me. Yesterday, oddly enough I had a lovely grape variety that I never find in the United States. Rossese di Albenga from the Riviera di Ponente in Liguria and which reminds me of the beach and the Summer.
It was very different than the Rossese I remembered drinking on my trips to Alassio, a lovely seaside town I used to be partial to in my previous incarnation. I found it much meater than I remembered despite its light color which would lead one to think of a different flavor profile. Bio Vio is an organic winery and they use no pesticides. I truly enjoyed this wine at Aroma, a great place to have a drink, meet a friend or dine.
In other news, on Friday of last week I was lucky enough to sit and chat with a fascinating bio-dynamic winemaker, Olivier Cousin.
Maslow 6 is a very interesting wine community started by three lovely ladies, two of whom I know from the International Wine Center, Mollie Battenhouse and Keri Jackson Kunzle. Maslow 6 organized a fabulous dinner with natural wine makers from Jenny & Francois’ portfolio. As a recent convert to organics (except for Joly who I have followed for years), everything is somewhat new and exciting to me. Cousin’s wines were exceptional and deserve their own post. More to come tomorrow.