Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Last Italian Wine I Drank

Last night, over a wonderful dinner, our host brought out two dessert wines, a Sauternes and a Vin Santo. The Sauternes was a famous one, Chateau d’Yquem. The Vin Santo, from the heart of the Chianti Classico region, was actually a declassified Vin Santo. It was 2002 and the d’Yquem was 2003.

Folks around the table were curious to taste the French wine. After all it is famous, perhaps one of the most famous (and expensive) wines in the world. And yes, we tried it and it was lovely. But it didn’t fit the night. Where we had come and where we were going, with the food and the preceding wine, the Vin Santo was the more appropriate wine. And for the evening it was more delicious.


Earlier in the day I was at the pool store. I was looking at a pump. It was very quiet. So I asked one of the salesmen about it. “It has an Italian motor, very quiet,” he remarked. When he said the word “Italian” he become solemn, as if its Italianness imbued the pump with more finesse. More cache. Not just quieter. Better.

Funny how we sometimes cast Italian wines aside as mere wannabes. Not as bad as had been done 30 years ago. But still there are folks who think the wine has to come from Burgundy or Champagne or the Rhone or Bordeaux to set it apart from all the rest. And once upon a time that would have been a fair assessment. Not anymore.

For a number of reasons, but not really where I am going with this. No, what I am curious about is how things fit, how the wine chosen rises to the appropriateness of the occasion. Sure the d’Yquem was lovely, but it was out of place. The Vin Santo wasn’t. It was a simple observation.

How often is it we are in a restaurant and the server asks us what we’d like to drink, if we are ready to order a bottle of wine? And usually my answer is, “We haven’t chosen our food yet, we’ll get back to you on the wine after we do.” Italians don’t worry so much about it around the table, but at the American table there is this need to find a wine to make a statement, as if it is an extension of one’s testosterone. Like a penile implant. Meanwhile Italians (and most French) are getting after it with some white wine or bubbles. The difference between a young culture and one that has been around a little longer.

Another factor was the weather, for some reason the d’Yquem seemed like a cold weather wine, to go with something more savory than ripe fruits. As it is blisteringly hot right now, even at 10 PM, the Vin Santo acted like soup, it had an almost cooling effect. And it complemented the blueberries and the strawberries better.

All this to say, that was the last Italian wine I had. Hopefully it won’t be the last Italian wine I will ever have. That is a post for another time.




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3 comments:

Wine Curmudgeon said...

And the d'Yquem probably wasn't ready, either, which also says a lot about the kind of wine it is.

Not necessarily better or worse, but meant for a different time and place than what you were doing.

Do Bianchi said...

who was the producer?

Remember that bottle of 90 Villa di Vetrice that Guy brought to our house? it was so awesome...

Alfonso Cevola said...

the wine was Principe de Renieri - gorgeous stuff. Ya, the 90 Vetrice was astounding!

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