Dear friend Andrea Sartori nailed it - tired but happy
Holy Guacamole, I’m tired. It’s been two weeks now on the wine trail in France and Italy. I wanna go home. But we have just done day two of Vinitaly with three more to go. If this were a normal work week, it would be Tuesday. But it’s Friday, and Vinitaly has been a whirlwind of activity. Sitting with Andrea Sartori, the outgoing president of the Confederazione Italiana della Vite e del Vino-Unione Italiana Vini. He had just finshed lunch with the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, and the governor of the Veneto, Luca Zaia. We were sipping his bubbly, Arnea, and all at the table commented that it feels like Sunday. Needless to say, we have all been busy, and we have a few more days to go. As we say back home, we’ve just started cooking!
Robert Bava with DoBianchi of Cocchi Americano
The day started out with a quick stop to say hello to old friend Roberto Bava. Roberto is an “idea man” and he was excited about his aperitivo wine, Cocchi Americano. “Do bianchi,” he yelped to his son, and two glasses appeared. And in the glass went his concoction of the aperitivo , some orange zest and a sprizt of fizzy water. It was a great recalibrater for the palate. He then made another version with the Cocchi Alta Langa Blanc ‘d Blanc Metodo Classico. Always one for a story, Roberto recalled a promotion for his Malvasia wine in a sports stadium in South Korea. The idea was to get everyone who had a date to kiss and then to get themselves on the big screen in the stadium. Those who got their kiss recorded in the crowd would win a bottle of the wine. “Can you imagine a whole stadium of people kissing? We had to get the permission of the president of Korea! Sexy Malvasia wine from Italy!” Good job, Roberto.
Special Dee-livery: Courtesy of hard working winemaker Roberto Voerzio
Down the hall in the Winebow office, a landmark meeting place, I was hunkered down tasting through a series of wines, when who but Roberto Voerzio rolled a two wheeler in. He was making a Hot Shot deliver ( as we call in the trade, unless you’re in ATX, where they call is an SPU, sales pick-up). Roberto was happy, animated and ready to talk. I had never seen him at Vinitaly or like this so we stopped and chatted him up. Always the innovator, he pulled out his cue card, something he did for fun and read to us, “I’m here to do excellent business with your company as I produce fantastic wine!” Yes you do, Roberto, we love them and it was great seeing you on the wine trail.
My notes have me tasting close to 100 wines on day 2 and my palate got a little scorched, going from Tuscany to Sicily to the Veneto to Piedmont and Abruzzo, and around and around, one more time. One more time. Awesome day. And that was just the wine. So a little about the food too, for my restaurant professionals back home.
Lunch was a multicultural affair, hosted by Il Borra and their noted and very talented young sommelier, Luca Martini, and chef Roberto (it has been the day of Roberto) Bendinelli. One of the most creative dish presentations I have seen at Vinitaly was his ravioli, which was “plated” in a bottle, a magnum, cut in half and served up with the logo cork of the winery. It paired well with the always smooth and delicious Il Borro wines. My table was international, people from Italy, Hungary, Germany and Scandinavia. The wine and food was Italian – the common language was English. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Greatness.
At the Illuminati stand later in the day, I met up with old friend Tony McClung, sharing a glass of Illuminati Brut, when legendary cheese maven and Slow Food legend Enrico Fracassa appeared with an amazing platter of his Pecorino Infossato & Ventricina Teramana dei Monti della Laga. Oh. My. Goodness. I know I sound like a kid in a candy store, but being part of a cheese movement back home, this was like going to the mountain top. I only wish my friend Paula Lambert back home were here for this. I will go visit Enrico, very soon, and again, that’ll be a whole ‘nother story. Tony was in Pig Heaven as the Ventricina is essentialy a crostini of pepper and a special kind of pork. Needless to say it went down real well with the imcomparable bubbles from dear friends at Illuminati. Funny vignette – when Enrico showed up at the booth, winemakers from Abruzzo and journalists poured into the stand – it was like Enrico is the Pied Piper of Pecorino. Patienza, I’ll get to it. Soon. I promise.
Finally, we ended our day with the kind folks from the Dievole winery. We met at the famous Le Cantine de Arena, the brasserie downstairs. In all my years coming to Verona and Vinitaly this place is legendary. But I had never been. The “master of the fire” is a larger than life fellow. Sweet guy. They bring these "Texas sized" platters of meat out on a sizzling plate that’s covered with a conical shaped dome with a hole in the top (food mavens, please, tell me what this is called? Tagine/tajin is what my friends wrote back). It was a mellow finish with new and old friends and the spot-on wines from Dievole. And that too is another blog post. I need to go there and meet the cat who only eats steak. The doggy bag we loaded up for him was easily 3 pounds worth of steak. And yes, I totally blew my diet on this day.
And that’s the way it was. More to come!