Friday, September 15, 2006

T.G.I.Q. ~ Thank God It's Querciabella

A slight diversion from my usual TGIF posting. Just a Q. I have Paola Banchi with me, from Querciabella, treading in the "mission fields." Paola is trained as an agronomist. Two of her mentors have been Gianfranco Soldera and Josko Gravner , two of the most iconoclastic vintner-philosophers in Italy. I recently opened up some of these wines with a filmmaker friend. Mamma mia, the end of the world!

Paola is an Italian earth woman, a descendant of those wine goddesses you see on the ancient amphorae in southern Italy. And though her DNA is linked to them, she looks at you from a pair of 6th century B.C. Etruscan eyes. Paola is a recipient of the energy that has passed from the ancients to the moderns.

And like some of us who have been stationed in the colonies as missionaries, Paola has been tasked with leaving her Tuscany and venturing, often, into the world.

Briefly, this phenomenon of the Italian explorers, Columbus, Vespucci and on, has been reborn in the new age with our young Italian vintners. Now they hop planes, but the effect is the same, to come to the new world. This time they bring the treasures.
New York, Singapore, Vancouver, Denver, Osaka, the world is now open for business with the Italians. A far cry from the early 1960's.

Much has been said about Querciabella, and much more will be written. My friend, David, has written about two of the wines here, the Chianti Classico and the Camertina.

I first met Paola in Verona at Vinitaly over a vegetarian mini-cheeseburger and fries. Not just any meal, it was part of a 17-course meal, prepared by Pierino Penati, all vegetarian, to highlight the wines. Slow Food and Slow Wine. It was quite a scene. The wines were center stage, with the Querciabella and Roederer families sharing the limelight. Lots of famous people, mountain climbers, poets, famous chefs, and the rest of us mere mortals. But a great night.

Months later Paola is in Texas, in time for the whooping owl, which is outside my window early this morning, sending its courting call to its prospective mate. Which hasn't anything to do with this posting other than it is wonderful to hear. Click on the link above to experience it yourself.

A day in the fields, not exactly stomping, but definitely treading in the marketplace. Pictured here with Lance Storer, a young man who has an excellent shop in Dallas.

At dinner with a meal at Stephan Pyles, he himself bringing food from his altar-kitchen. We left the meal decisions to him, and why not? Great food, great wines and great friends, and we're just getting Star-ted!

Camartina 2001

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