Wednesday, August 09, 2006

WW II ~ Wine Wednesday 2

"Nebbiolo made like Amarone and Corvina made like Barolo, now that's a delicious Italian Paradox."

Wine Wednesday 2, WWII, the second Wednesday of this month. Italians are lounging on their boats, roasting on their beaches and I am obsessed with purity of flavor, clarity. I can’t get my pool to clear up. Why, amidst these august days of war, am I fixated on this?

Conversations lately with folks in and out of the wine industry. I know it seems like a little circle, and it often seems non-inclusive. That is if you feel shunned from a group of folks who are filling up their cars with wine, reps and itineraries and hitting their accounts in heat and humidity. Come on in, the water’s warm!

Last week, walking in Midtown Manhattan I overheard a couple of folks talking. One said, “This aint nothing! That weather they have in Louisiana is really hot! And humid, like hell!” At that point I was only 5 blocks into a 60 block walk, but I couldn’t agree with him.

A few years back, before Katrina, I was working with a legendary wine salesman in New Orleans, Mike Procido. Mike had so many parking tickets in the French Quarter that if he were to park there his car would get booted. So he parked in a lot and brought his two bikes, one for him and one for, well this time, me.

Riding around the Vieux Carré, on a bike with a wine bag, in August, in New Orleans, well, it was hot. And humid. But breezy. And a whole lot cooler than tramping up and down those subway steps with that same bag full of wine. But this is something that is going on everyday in our “exclusive” wine industry.

Block and tackle, a term I heard in a seminar yesterday. I also heard the phrase “luxury item”. So we have a 300 pound linebacker humping a barrel fermented cult chardonnay. Sounds fierce.
All this as a slow dance intro for the two wines this week that really grabbed me. Like that linebacker or that tow-boot in the Vieux Carré.

The wines
The 2001 La Poja from Allegrini
The 2002 Sfursat 5 Stelle from Nino Negri

La Poja is a parcel , a cru, in the Valpolicella classico territory. An almost Area 51 like situation on top of this hill, as if it had been white heat scorched and bleached, the image of this vineyard is so arresting. The wine, Corvina in purezza, defies categorization. It’s a big wine, bold, yes, all that. Made in the style of a Barolo in the land of Amarone. It’s a string quartet, it’s a master gem cutter, an artist of the perfume coaxing out that shy little fragrance. The bees in the vineyard are the most gentle in the zone. People climb the hill in the winter months to get a little peek at the sun, reflected off that chalky noggin.

The Sfursat 5 Stelle also ascends from lofty vines. Nearly impossible to harvest, Chiavennasca in purezza, the local version of Nebbiolo, and made in a similar manner as Amarone. One of the great wines of the world, Like Grange from Australia, Latour from Bordeaux, the lines to taste 5 Stelle at Vinitaly are longer than they are at the Sassicaia table. This is the Italian gateway to Shangri-La.

What both of these wines share is sophistication in celebration of their ripeness. Oozing lux, drawing the bees of our brain to the cup to gather the nectar for the flight home, home to the queen bee. What these two wines do is to defy the accepted perception of how wine is made in their regions. What we get on Wine Wednesday 2, with these wines, is a look into the soul of the artisan, the master musician, the essence creators.

Or as Lawrence Durrell once wrote, “They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures - and the best of them lead us not only outward in space, but inward as well.”


Anonymous said...


It has been a long time!

I meant to get in touch with you when I worked with a friend of yours who works for a wine importer a few months back.

When I picked her up she was wearing slacks, and asked "where are the bikes?"

Then she told me she was a friend of yours. I promised to have bikes the next time she's in town.

You're overdue for a visit yourself.

I hope all is going well with you.

Ciao, é grazie per le parole simpatici! Mike

Travel Italy said...

True quality is the result of experience, patience and passion. When producing wines like these only the truly passionate will make the sacrifices necessary to grow and harvest these gems of the culinary world. 5 Stelle is a work of art, no matter the price, to be appreciated by those who wish to experience heaven while still here on earth.


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