One might say, “Merlot? In these times? How 20th century.” And you might be right. For we live in another time for another wine. Right now it might be the time of Pinot Noir. But when the Count redid his vineyards he didn’t know about Sideways and the effect it would have on American tastes. The Count is a Venetian. He lives in an ancient villa, dines every Friday night at Harry’s. Not the Harry’s we tourists know, but the Harry’s for the Venetian insiders. The Count is definitely a Venetian insider.
We met in Austin, to spend part of a day showing his wine to clients and tradespeople. Austin in late October can be very beautiful. The weather was slightly warm but not uncomfortable. There was a hint of Fall finally coming to the Hill Country. The mosquitoes were having their last hurrah. And the wine was Merlot.
Vistorta. Perhaps that is an aspiration that will be reaches in my son’s time or in my grandson’s time,” the Count said. Part of his family lineage reaches to France. Bordeaux is not a wine to copy as much as a part of the multi-cultural reality of the Count’s family. Old Venetian families are complicated.
Indeed, the wine is a study. Spending the better part of a day with vintages 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 (the 2008 is not ready), and listening to the Count talk about the climate of each vintage, the conditions of each wine, describing them as he would one of his children. “You get to taste some piece of time when you were different, when things were different.” I thought back to my brief wine-making period. Some of those wines are almost as old as my offspring. I answered him, “It is as if the younger you is having a conversation with the older you tasting a wine one made 30 years ago. The odd thing is, the younger you made the wine but now the wine is older, like the one who made the wine.” Yes, the wine talks back to the winemaker.
And the wines? Well, if you want fanfare and fireworks and bombastic displays of fruit and alcohol and oak, you had better look elsewhere, maybe down the road to where they make Amarone. The Count identifies with Friuli when it comes to wine. No doubt he is a Venetian in many other respects. But Amarone is not in his arsenal.
And so it is - these wines from a Count with a farm in Friuli and an ancient villa in the Serene Republic.
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