Friday, April 05, 2013

Trento Report: €3 Euro Muller-Thurgau, red wine with white fish (and green asparagus) and Summa XIII

A bad day in Italy can often be better than a good day in many other places. And a good day, well, let’s just say that’s off the charts. I haven’t been here long but the wine gods have been good to me.

I’m in Trento for Summa 13, a yearly wine event that Alois Lageder holds. While the Vini Veri and the Vin Natur folks are holding their Vinitaly-alternate events, up here in Alto Adige, Summa is the wine event I’d take Jerry Garcia to. It’s laid back, a little hippy-ish, good vibes, great food and no pressure. All this before I jump into the Vinitaly fair on Sunday.

Earlier today, after checking in to the hotel in Trento I walked around the corner and had a brief lunch. Muller Thurgau was being offered by the glass for €3.00 – who can beat that with a white asparagus risotto?

Later on I caught up with my friend Alberto Lusini, who oversees American sales and marketing for the Mezzacorona group. He had been brainstorming with his American consultant, Jeffrey Friedman, the man who invented Caymus’ Conundrum and made sure Earnest Gallo never had a cold plate of pasta when they dined. Jeffrey is one of a handful of power brokers that built California into the mega-wine scene it is today, and now he’s looking to Italy. Big things coming, folks.

But what excited me most of all, was the restaurant, the Trattoria “Vecchia Sorni”. I had been there in 2008 with Alberto and winemaker Lucio Matricardi (Originally from Abruzzo) and fondly remembered the place. Before I left to go to Italy, I messaged Alberto asking him the name of the place, as I wanted to go dine there. As chance would have it, Alberto was going there with his consultant, and he invited me along.Lorenzo Callegari is the chef, and he's very talented. Poor chap lost his mom last week, so he was down. But his emotions never betrayed his cooking. Still, losing someone like that, never easy. Never easy.

Up here in the Alto-Adige, we’re heading smack-dab into asparagus season. So, it was an extravaganza of asparagi.

We started with the Rotari Brut and I was reminded how good the sparkling wines of Trentino are, even in their entry level. Back in America, we murdered Cava and are proceeding to gut and filet Prosecco, what with their popularity. But in Trento, they still have their eye on the prize, the flavor in the glass. While they may never reach the level of popular acceptance that Prosecco has, they make good stuff. I remember Antonio Gianola, when he was the wine director at Catalan in Houston, would decant the Rotari Brut rose and serve it to his clients in a calmer version. It really impressed me. Still does.

Cesconi's website says this is 100% Merlot but the back label said Cabernet Merlot   

What really got my attention though was the red wine with my dish ( a freshwater fish, lasca and more fresh asparagus). Folks say that wine is hard to pair with fresh asparagus and a light freshwater fish with a rich Cabernet Merlot blend? Not what one would pair with, eh? But you know what, it was alright. It grows with it – so it goes with it – in this case. The tricolore miracle: red wine, white fish and green asparagus.

After dinner I took a quick stroll around a cool and moist Trento. I love the Piazza Duomo and the adjoining hot spot, Scrigno del Duomo. It feels like my bar. And sure enough, as I walked in there was a place at the bar for me, next to a professorial looking chap, a hipster and his uber-friendly hound. I was finishing up a long day with an amaro. What else, but Braulio in Trento. To those who refer to amari as nail polish – I like to think of them as mild buffers – not too much shine, just a luster that sets one above the dazed and confused.

Eek – it’s late here – and tomorrow is going to be a big day – Good News – they still like me over here.

Buon weekend, y’all!

The Duomo of Trento with the Fountain of Neptume in the foreground

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