Sunday, September 08, 2019

Fury, Indignation, Outrage – Seeking Asylum from the Blitz Against Bliss

…and the wine we’ve been opening up lately, on the island.

Three years ago, I came up with this scenario that, quite possibly, the earth passed through a field of cosmic dust of unknown elements that caused a large part of the population to have experienced a mind-altering state, and not necessarily in a good way. Not a mass hypnosis (which doesn’t exist), maybe just a slight shift in the collective consciousness? Or maybe, mass psychosis? But if that possibly happened, to those who weren’t affected by the dust storm, it seems all kind of crazy was unleashed. But this is about wine, and Italian wine, so let’s get after it.

Coco craves copper

Podere Palazzo Ramato della Fiamma is a white wine (not copper colored, by the way) from a winery in the province of Forli-Cesena, in east Emilia-Romagna. The wine, a 2017, weighed in at 14.5% alcohol. A restaurateur friend poured it last week at lunch. Seeing as it was 100 °F here in North Texas, a cool white wine seemed like a good idea.

This is a big wine, though. A red wine in white wine clothing? A cool-weather white? A slick black cat of a wine? Not for everybody, but for those who like black cats and wines like this, it could fill that bill nicely. Coco agrees with me.

I was in an email interchange with Ian D’Agata, who told me about the grape. “I’d say it is most likely a biotype of Trebbiano Romagnolo, which is also known as Trebbiano della Fiamma, as it can turn reddish-gold when ripe. Given where the estate is located, and that the wine says Rubicone, I think that is most likely a correct assumption; and I see on the website of the estate that they refer to a ‘Trebbiano variety.’”

It bears a slight resemblance to some of the other coastal whites from the Adriatic side, from Verdicchio to Trebbiano, even slightly to Pecorino. What this wine reminded me of was a blend made years ago, by Illuminati, called Ciafré, which had a good proportion of Trebbiano in the blend.

The Ramato della Fiamma is a rich wine, with some perfume, but a bit closed in. The meat of this wine is in the body. It doesn’t come off as heavy, but very well-balanced, dry and really a surprise. It has a little less acidity than its counterpart further down south, a little fattier flavor. Even though the wine spent 24 months in new French oak (300 liters) I didn’t sense any over-oakiness. I think a grilled veal chop would be smashing. I don’t have exact pricing, but it appears the wine will retail in the US for under $30, which puts it at a premium price point. So, not a wine for everyday drinking, but a well-made, interesting wine for a Sunday lobster and crab boil.

Buttercup loves Pecorino (cheese, that is)
From a small farm in Bucchianico in Abruzzo, where a main product is saffron, Azienda Vinicola CantinArte released this 2016 Pecorino ‘Colori.’ Here is where a lot of folks get tripped up. A lot of names. Long names. Let’s break it down. Bucchianico is in the province of Chieti, which is in the middle of the region of Abruzzo, but nearer to the Adriatic than inland. The winery, CantinArte, makes a white wine from the Pecorino grape and gives it the name ‘Colori.’

The wine is a deeper color than clear, slightly yellow. Or, as we like to say around here, Buttercup, but on the light side. Pecorino was reincarnated in Abruzzo and Marche at the end of the last century. There is a lot of seafood in these regions, so the demand for a variety of white wines is strong. As well, a robust tourism industry on the coast fuels that need. The ‘Colori’ Pecorino is a soft white wine, not overly acidic (which more often is the rule in that area). For that reason, it makes this wine a suitable foil for folks who like wine on the dry, but mellow side.

I’m not going to go into the aromas. Recently a perfume expert has pretty much blown up my ideas about writing about aromas and smells (which is offering me a needed moment of education). I can say this wine went really well with several different kinds of foods. Khao Soi is a curried ‘soup” of chicken and egg noodles from Myanmar, Laos and Thailand and it went really well. I also had the wine with a fresh peach and raspberry cobbler (which I made) and tried, as an experiment, to see how it would match. It matched well enough for me to remember it and note it here. Total surprise. But I’d really love to see it with a big hot plate of grilled langosto as I remember fondly from San Benedetto del Tronto. This one in the US will cost about $25, but remember it’s a fairly small production from a farming family.

Luigi loves everything!
Le Pianelle Al Posto dei Fiori – Coste della Sesia 2018 rosato – Le Pianelle is the winery, Al Posto dei Fiori is the name of the wine, rosato is the color and Coste della Sesia is the DOC (appellation). This is a darker, or well-tanned rosé, which I am drawn to more than the lighter colored wines. A Nebbiolo ( @90% with 5% Croatina and 5% Vespolina) based wine. One of my favorite rosé wines this season, I loved everything about this wine, from the crisp, mineral-like flavor to the delicate, rose-bloom bouquet. The body held up well to summer food here in Texas- barbecue, tamales, grilled eggplant, hickory-smoked culotte steak. If there is one drawback it is that the wine will retail in the US for right under $30, which puts it in competition with the slimmer, blonder rosés from France. Even if the marketing rules of rosé seem contrived to us true believers, this is a hand-sell to folks who have the money and the desire to drink a delicious, authentic wine, regardless of color. I unabashedly love this wine. So, apparently, does Luigi.

The final wine came from the wine closet, a 2002 Il Borro. It’s a grizzled old lion of a wine, lying there in the closet all these years waiting for its moment. Grilling Wagyu ribeye steaks was that occasion.

Il Borro is one of those places that famous people go, to be in Italy, but to be under their own cover. It’s safe, in a sense. But there are wild things, too. Just not free-ranging wild. Wagyu-wild.

The Ferragamo family fear little, if nothing. A large family, some of them looked outside the clothing business to make room for their dreams. In a little corner near Arezzo, they found such a place. A little borgo, put together like a jig saw puzzle, every piece gold-leafed into place. Young Salvatore Ferragamo has resources that many of us don’t have, but with that comes pressures, from within and from the larger world. When we trip, it’s no big deal, When he does, it’s newsworthy. So, he is a bit imprisoned by the expectation the world and his family have for him and his wines. I like Salvatore, a lot.

I kept this wine for about thirteen years. When opened, it was like a home birth. Lots of stuff rushing out of the bottle all at once, and nary a midwife in sight. It kicked, it screamed, it was a bloody mess (some of the wine actually “jumped” out of the bottle onto a white linen table cloth). This was a wine that announced, “I’m here, what’ve you got for me?” A big juicy, charred piece of meat, for one. And a very patient wine-closet custodian, with his newly organized and catalogued collection of “wines to drink before we die.” It'll cost you about $90 today, if you can find it.

The wine itself was meaty, and mature. Not tired, but not youthful. Vigorous, yes, able to do 100 push-ups in one set, by all means. But no triathlon afterwards. A sit-down meal with a sharp knife and a big crystal goblet (with my inner Yakut calling the shots on the stemware).

What I loved about the wine was that the different grapes (50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and Petit Verdot) had fully integrated among themselves. Looking into my files, I noted that this wine, the 2002, was one of the most exciting wines I tasted at Vinitaly in 2007.

So, for this old warrior, it was a good day for the Il Borro to be born and resurrected. And there are more from the pride in the closet, waiting for their day.

And that’s all she wrote. I’ve got other things on the burner, but figured we all have enough drama in our lives these days. A celebratory post isn’t such a bad thing is it?

written and photographed (except for the old lion shot) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

Marco said...

I love that Luigi loves everything! Your last post was pure imagination too.

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