Calvados

My favorite travel show is Rick Steve’s Europe.  These 30 minute mini vacations are a daily joy for me.  To see places I’d like to go to some day, or re-live places I’ve been to and maybe see something I missed and would like to see if I ever et to go back, just makes me happy.

In these programs usually Rick meets up with somebody, a “local tour guide and co-author of one of Ricks guide books”, who show us around where ever we are and usually they eat, lunch, diner or both.  While dining, they discuss the local foods that make that place special.  It’s always good!

A recent show was about Normandy France.  I’ve never been, but really want to go.  During the show it was hard not to see that almost all of the  booze was made from apples.  They drink hard ciders lunch and diner.  A particular beverage caught my attention, calvados.

Unlike its cousins Cognac and Armagnac which are distilled from grapes, Calvados is distilled from apples.  Apparently Normandy grows a lot of apples.  Which is good because it takes about 17 pounds of apples to make one bottle of Calvados.  And not just any apple will do, nope, Clos Renaux, Petit Jaune, Ronge Buret and about 115 others can be used. Like Champagne, Calvados can only be made in Normandy.

Calvados have four flavor ranges like Sherry, sweet, bittersweet, bitter and acidic.  Don’t ask because I didn’t try them all.  Just be thankful it wasn’t Great, Good, Poor and God awful!

The history of Calvados goes back to the days of Charlemagne.  First known distiller was Gilles Picot, Lord de Gouberville in 1553.  What a story I’d have if that name was Picard and not Picot.  And in typical European fashion they had a union 50 years later.  Also, in good European tradition taxation factored into the location of Normandy, they didn’t enforced the taxes, SURPRISE! By the time the French Revolution rolled around vie de cider was being called just calvados.  The age of phylloxera was the golden age of calvados.  1942 calvados got a protected name.

The thing I love about this beverage is the traditions that have grown around it. One is called “trou Normand” Norman Hole, it’s a tradition when eating a meal to take a shot of Calvados supposedly to create a hole in the stomach, temporarily halting digestion and allowing for more food to be eaten. You would think this is an old French Tradition.  Nope! It’s Canadian, and its from WWII when Calvados became the regimental drink of the Royal Canadian Hussars, Le Regiment de Hull and Le Regimrnt do Maisonneuve.  These units passed through Normandy after D-Day and the rest is history.

CB05FBD1-F0D3-46A8-9451-5FF3EE2F2E55The most famous distilleries for Calvados are in Pays d’Aude. which is where ours comes from.  Berneroy XO, is double distilled and aged in oak for two years.  Color is coppery yellow, floral apples and vanilla on the nose.  Tastes of apple and oak.  Much lighter than the cognacs I’ve tired.  Long finish.  I drink it in a snifter usually on cold rainy afternoons.  I’m told it’s dynamite with a sharp cheese.

 

What can I say, sampling calvados might not change your life, but it might make that life ever so mush more enjoyable.  Its enlarged mine.

May neighbors respect you,

Trouble neglect you,

Angles protect you,

And heaven accept you!

Salute

 

 

 

 

 

Roma Rosso

0E02CE1E-ED38-47D6-8643-3DC7CF065374Sometimes life drops things in your lap.  Philosophers call that a serendipitous occasion.  Antonio Federici called it Roma Rosso.  Why such glee?  In a word Cesanses.

That’s pronounced chae-sah-NAE-say  It’s the local wine of ancient Rome.  Its home is Lazio province in Italy.  It’s just south of Rome and is on the land where the stone to build Rome came from.

The history goes back to the Volsci tribe who cultivated the grape from 488 BC to around 385 BC when Rome conquered them and continued to make and drink the wine.

It’s a red wine.  Comes in two  varieties Large Berries Cesanese Comune, and the smaller berry, better tasting Cessanese di Affile.  Its a troublesome varietal, it ripens late and has a nasty habit of producing a thin watery wine.  When its well behaved it produces a rich cherry red pepper, medium body wine wilth well controlled tannins.  Smart winemakers limit the wine exposer to oak. If you’re put off by the heavy handed flavor of northern Italian wines you’ll love Cesanese.

The wine is well liked in Italy, but almost unheard of out side Italy. Which is why I’m so excited about this wine.  I’m pinching myself for ever finding it.  The wine tastes best when consumed young which keeps it price reasonable. Another thing that makes this wine a “find” is Antonio Federici is a small vineyard who mostly sells only to restaurants in Italy.

Maybe this is a breakout for Cesanese to become better known outside Italy,  One of its supporters is wine maker Natalie Olivernos, who you might know by her stage name Savanna Samson, the star of “the Devil in Miss Jones”.  Her marriage to a wine maker started her career in wine and the rest is history.  You might look for her wine Sogno Uno “Dream One”.

So if you ever get the opportunity give Cesanese a shot, you’ll be happy you did.

Balsamic Vinegar

Vinegar, in a wine blog? Well, yes! Technically it’s okay for a wine blog to talk about vinegar. The word vinegar come from the French “vin” “aigre” or sour wine.

Vinegar is created when bacteria convert a fermented liquid into acetic acid. Doesn’t that sound yummy!  So, leave a bottle of Cabernet open on the counter for a week or two and voila! Red wine vinegar.  Yeah, it can happen that fast.

However, Balsamic vinegar is so different that some producers refuse to call it vinegar. They call it “sauce from wine grapes”.  In fact, some even drink it on it’s own. In Italy, for example,  it’s sipped from small glasses like a dessert wine.

The only place in the world that does “traditional” balsamic vinegar is Emilia-Romagna. The key word is “traditional.” Your supermarket Balsamic in nothing more than red wine vinegar jazzed up with a  sweetener and colored with caramel.  It’s made in a factory, most likely in New Jersey. Everything is legal in New Jersey.

True Balsamic vinegar comes only from Italy. You’ll know it’s the real thing if the label says “acute balsamic traditional di Modena,” or “di Reggio.” And has the official DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) stamp.  It’s the equivalent to a DOC for wine.

Okay, so how’s the real stuff made? Start by crushing Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. Next, take the musk and boil it down until you get a thick syrup called mosto cotto. Then starts a fermenting process that runs through a series of progressively smaller barrels of chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, and juniper. This process is very similar to the Solera process for making Sherry. This takes a minimum of 12 years, so if you are going to make your own, I suggest starting now. 

Each barrel will have a small opening covered by a cloth which allows for evaporation. Yes, the angels get a cut of vinegar along with whiskey and wine. Over the years the liquid grows denser and the wood imparts flavor.

Now the cost of this product is about three to five times the cost of a moderately-priced bottle of wine, but for only 3 ounces a shot. It’s used very sparingly.  You dribble, never pour. Add it to olive oil and butter, or dribbled over fish and cooked vegetables. It can even be sprinkled on strawberries for dessert. But the ultimate culinary use is a few drops to moistened Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

History shows that Balsamic has been used in Italian homes for centuries. It was first written about in 1046 when Henry III was traveling to Rome for his coronation as the Holy Roman Emperor. He was given a silver bottle that contained Balsamic Vinegar in Reggio. The name Balsamic was first used in the 18th century.  It was called so due to the aromatic smell—which people called “balmy”—that the wood barrels infused into the vinegar.

Medici Ermete does make its own Balsamic product. Most vineyards in Emilia-Romagna in the towns of Modena and Reggio do. Medici Ermete has a Balsamic aged for 30 years.

I’m not going to talk about taste, color, nose, etc because I didn’t taste it.  At $200 for 3 ounces I likely never will. To put that juice on lettuce would be a crime.  For me, it’s the fascinating story I found so delicious. It was an adventure just to think about and learn about wine’s other self, vinegar.  Hope you enjoyed it to.

Lambrusco

 

Good morning class today is Lambrusco day.  Can anyone tell me what a Lambrusco is?  Yes, Johnny, “Lambrusco is a $500,000 Italian sports car”.  No Johnny, that’s a Lamborghini but I like the way you think.

Susan, “Lambrusco is a cheap, bubbly, red vine from Northern Italy that tastes like soda”.  Close, but not 100% correct.  Anyone else?

So, what is Lambrusco?

First it’s very old.  Humans have been drinking it for about 2,000 years.  Cato the Elder the worlds first wine critic, wrote about it in De Agri Cultura, the worlds oldest  farming manual from about 160 BC.  It predates Cabernet by a millennia.  It was certainly cultivated by the Etruscans.

It is from Emilia-Romagna Northern Italy. This area spans the entire width of Italy from Liguria on the west coast all the way to the Adriatic Sea in the East.  The city of Bologna is the definitive home to Lambrusco.  Two other things that you should know about Emilia-Romagna are; 1) it’s considered Italy’s ultimate food region, in fact the name Bologna means “the fat one”, and 2) it is the home of Balsamic vinegar, and that is so interesting it would be another post all by itself.

Lambrusco got a bad name for being a cheap, overly sweet wine about 40 years ago.  A reputation that still haunts it to day.  However, and I was surprised to learn this, Lambrusco is the leading imported Italian wine to the United States.  Reunite, the brand that is synonymous with the wine, exports about 2 million cases a year to the United States.

The reason for this is this is the terroir of Emilia- Romagna is great for crops but awful for wine.  The soil is fertile and the area has plenty of water.  Great for food, horrible for wine.  Under these conditions vines produce high yields  and thin, simple wines.  People don’t seem to care and gulp down the wine with pride and abandon. Why?  Because Lambrusco is probably the most food friendly of wines.  It’s light frothy, and it’s high acid content is perfect with most food, especially fatty food.

Lambrusco is like most things Italian, complicated and has many moving parts.     There are 10 different varieties and are almost always made in a semi-sparkling style.  What the Italians call “frizzante”, slightly fizzy, not quite sparkling, but enough you could call it “spumante”.  Don’t call it Champagne! God forbid, the French would go nuts. There are four high quality varieties you should know; Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Grasparossa, and Lambrusco Salamino.

Our wine is Medici Ermete “Concerto” 2016.  I selected this wine because they have a 120 IMG_3706year history making Lambrusco.  Five generations of family winemakers.  They are also one of the very few Lambrusco producers that makes a Single Vineyard wine.  The majority of the commercially available Lambruscos are blends of grapes coming from all over the region.  This wine is from just one family owned vineyard. It is a Lambrusco  Salamino.

Serve it chilled, about 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator will do it. In the glass we have a brilliant ruby color.  Aromatic nose.  On the palate you get strawberries, raspberries and cherries.  Clear finish.   A very drinkable wine.  The bubbles are obtained using the Charmat Method, which means the second fermentation takes place in a tank vs, the bottle in the traditional Champagne method.  The wine is rated a 90 by both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator.

Okay Griffy, why Lambrusco? I love wine.  And this isn’t plunk!  This is great wine at an affordable price that drinks well above it’s price point. Plus, if you are going to a dinner party and don’t know what they are making, you’ll be okay with a Lambrusco.  In addition the bubbles give you a Tuxedo effect even though you are wearing sneakers and shorts.

The great thing about wine is it gives you a chance to “taste” the world, one glass at a time.  It’s a very cool experience.  Hope you take the opportunity to taste a little of Emilia-Romagna.  Who knows maybe be you get an idea of what it was like to be an Etruscan.

Fictional Wine

We live in a manufactured reality: fake news, fake beef, fake justice, fake friends, everything has become fake.

I don’t know what the world looks more like: The Matrix, The  Truman Show, or Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.  So, are we going to talk about fake wine?

I’m sure it exists. The exploits of Rudy Kurniawan fills books and documentaries.  Synthetic wines are coming according to a WinePar story, and 90% of the people drinking them will not know the difference.  So, is to be a story of fraud or a mixture of amino acids, sugars, organic compounds and water. None of the above!

This is a story about grabbing a bottle of Rose and finding a beach or a patio and a hammock and enjoying a few hours of this summer with a good wine paired with a good book.  Preferably about wine.

Now, when you think of wine books I bet you think of ponderous works by stogie wine critic types which try and teach us of the great unwashed populace about the nectar of the God’s wine.  Well, maybe, couldn’t hurt if you are in need of a nap.  But, not much fun.

No, I’m talking about settling into a comfortable spot with a good novel, with the focus on wine.

  Trust me if you want to learn a thing or two about Napa wine you can but its way more enjoyable when the plot is about a mysterious land deal involving premium vineyards used to finance a nefarious protagonist bent on world domination.  It’s amazing what you can learn about terroir while reading about people digging a grave in a vineyard to hide the body of a winemaker who got in the way.

The action in a fermentation tank takes on new meaning when someone is getting forced into the tank and is asphyxiated by the carbon dioxide released to cover up their involvement in embezzling money from the winery.  You’ll still learn a thing or two about the fermentation process, you might even remember.

The nasty capitalistic stockbroker becomes a great guy as he falls in love with the woman who owns the little cafe in the small town in France as together they find out that the great mystery wine that has critics around the world going nuts trying to figure out where it comes from is from his late uncles vineyard that he just inherited.  All because his uncle loved him and wanted him to enjoy the vineyard and the wine as much as he did.  And be in love and happy.

For those who like history maybe you’ll find out how winemakers hid vintage wines from the Nazis behind fake walls.  Saved vineyards by saying they collaborated with the Nazi’s, faked their deaths and escaped to the United States to end up teaching their grand nice at UC Davis how to make wine.  Toss in a love story between the nice and a French vineyard owner and you’ll have a great afternoon of sipping wine and turning pages.

Yes, wine is a great escape.  It can take you into Plato’s cave where reality is just shadows on the wall, and at the same time when you step out of the cave you may have learned some true realities about wine and the human condition. And smile because with all the sham and drudgery of the world it’s still a wonderful place.

Wine Comics

Did you read comic books when you were a kid?  I read some.  I was more of a SIFI, IMG_3429historical novel type kid.  Comic books are big business.  Japan is the largest market worth about  $7 to 8 billion! Sales in the United States is about $1 billion.

The history of comics is very interesting. I’m indebted to John Petty of  Heritage Auction Galleries for being my guide on this historical trip.  Comics have been around a long time. As far back as 1500 there were comics. By the 1780’s the familiar “dialog balloons” begin appearing.

First Modern comic appeared in 1895 R. F. Outcault’s Hogan Alley.  The story focused on a group of hooligans, and introduces the “The Yellow Kid” which became one of the most popular fictional character of the first few decades of the 19th century.  You know who Outcault’s other famous character was?  Buster Brown!  Comics soon became an essential part of newspapers; Orphan Annie, Buck Rogers, The Phantom all became popular serialized stories.

The Golden age of Comics 1938 to 1949.  Action comics.  Hero’s.  Superman first ran in 1939.  Batman, Wonder Woman and Capital American soon fallowed.  Comic books were in every battle of WWII.  When the war ended, comics days were numbered.

1949 to 1956 the Atomic age. After the war comics moved from heroes to crime, Science Fiction and horror.  Radio gave us Dragnet, The Shadow, Night Beat. Godzilla was born in 1954.  War of the Worlds, Robots, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  All of this was too much for Dr. Frederic Wertham who published “Seduction of the Innocent” saying these stories lead to juvenile delinquents.  Of course government had to do something. Comic book publishers banded together and created a comic code. Comic books declined. Except one little publication who skirted the code, a little book called MAD.

1956 to 1970 saw the return of the hero. Flash, Green Lantern and the old heroes were reborn.New heroes were created; Fantastic Four 1961 was a big smash. Spider man, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and Ant Man all were big successes. Comics became “Pop Art”.  In 1973 Gwen Stacy, Spider-man’s girl friend was killed in a comic it shook the comic book world.  Death had come to comics  Comics were no longer safe. Happy ever after was no longer a guarantee.

1970 to 1980 the age of relevance!  Comics start taking on drug abuse, pollution, racism and poverty.  The heroes start questioning their governments.  Captain American questions being a symbol of the US because of Viet Nam, Green Lantern becomes and environmentalist.  Even Lois Lane in a precursor of Rachel Dolezal, aka Rachel Moore, submits to a experimental procedure that changed her from being Caucasian to African-American so she could better understand the plight of blacks at the height of the Civil Rights era. The social shift of American is felt in comics.

1980 to present who knows what age.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I have no idea what they are about.

So, Griffy, why does a wine geek take seven paragraphs and talk about cartoons?  To be honest I found it interesting.   And because  I learned that there are wine comics.  I saw a story in Wine Spectator; Swirl! Sip! Pow!  Wine comic books.

They even have an annual event and festival in France.  BD & Vin (translation “graphic novels and wine”). French, Belgian, and Italian authors and artists are meeting at Chateau Lacouture to celebrate.

A French author Etienne Davideau spent a year working with  winemaker Richard Leroy in the Loire Valley and wrote the graphic novel “Les Ignorants” translated to English as The Initiates.  The book details their exploits battling pests, pruning, picking, and fighting critics with cameos form biodynamic superheroes like Jean-Francois Ganevat.

Japan, are there vineyards in Japan?  A brother sister team Yuko and Shin Kibayashi writing under the pen name Tadashi Agi have authored a successful wine comic book with 56 volumes and was called The Drops of God. 

The story is about the son of a famous wine critic who is a beer salesman and has never tasted wine because he and his father didn’t get along.  He is notified his father has died.  To receive his inheritance the son must correctly identify 13 wines.  Twelve are called the “Twelve Apostles”, the finial wine is called “Drops of God”.  All the wines in the story are real.  The twist in the story is the son has a nemesis, a young wine critic his father has recently adopted as his other son.

The son has strong senses of taste and smell.  He remembers how his father described wines when he was young.  He submerges himself in the wine world and with the help of a trainee sommelier and his colleagues in the wine department of the company he works.  They set off to solve the mysteries of the 13 wines.  The story line also includes food pairings and fights to save favorite famous restaurants. The series ended in 2014.

What madness over a simply drink dives authors and artist world wide to produce wine adventures in the form of illustrated sequential panels and dialog bubbles?  Boggles the mind.  I love it.

For 6000 years wine has saturated the human condition. Our religion, philosophy, history, art  literature, psychology and biology.  From God and love, to what’s for diner and comics.  What is it about wine?  I’ve studied it for six years and I still don’t know.  It fascinates me.

Feudo Croce Primitivo ‘Imperio LXXIV’ 2015

IMG_3412

Recently I feel I’ve had a pretty hot hand at picking wines.  Foradori, Aluado, and Amerlior were all very good wines.  I haven’t cooled off yet. The “Imperio” is a very impressive wine too.

Primitivo is Zinfandel with an Italian accent.  Same grape.  Our wine is a Primitivo di Manduria.  High in alcohol and tannins.  Some of these wines have alcohol levels around 18%.  Our wine is 14.5%.  The Italian home for Primitivo is Puglia.  Historians believe the grape arrive in Italy from Croatia.  The name Primitivo translates as “early one” and there is a connection to Spain, Tempranillo, also means the same thing.

The first thing I notice about our wine was the bottle.  Big and heavy.  If this bottle were a ship, it would be a heavy cruiser or pocket battleship.  Color was a cross between a ruby and garnet red.  Nose hinted of red fruit, spice and chocolate.  This is a full bodied wine.  Notes of blackberry, licorice and chocolate all wrapped in silky tannins.  This wine tastes 2 to 3 times above it price level.  

This wine is rated a 96 by Annuario dei Migliori Vini Italiani, One of Italy’s best wine rating publications.  This annual describes and evaluates the best wines of Italy.  It also is a great informational tool and contains detailed tasting notes.  Wine Spectator rated this wine in the top 100 for 2014 and 2015.

Here is a link so you can see the Feudo Croce vineyard.

http://www.tinazzi.it/en/tinazzi/the-estates/feudo-croce/

Now let me tell you a true story about the power of wine.  A young man goes to his father and says “Papa, I don’t know what to do about my wife.  Everyday she loses her temper at me for no reason.  It’s worrying me”.

Papa says, son, wine can fix that”.  How Papa?  When your wife starts getting angry, go get some wine, sip some and swish it in your mouth.  Don’t swallow it, just swish, swish, swish.  Keeping doing this until she calms down or she leaves the room.

So the young man does what his Papa told him.  Two weeks go by.  Papa how did you know of the miracle of the wine?  I did what you told me every time my wife got angry I got the wine and swish, swish, swish and soon she calmed down.  I didn’t know wine could do that.  Tell me Papa, what in the wine swishing in your mouth causes her to calm down.

Papa said, The wine does nothing.  Keeping you mouth shut and not pissing her off is the trick!

See wine is powerful stuff.

Amelior

IMG_3394‘Who am I you ask?  Let it be know that I am Amelior Amanitas, alchemist extraordinaire  and supreme sage of the north”. From Forgotten Realms, Dungeon & Dragons.  Impressive credentials , but totally unrated to our Amelior.

Our Amelior is a 750 ML bottle of delicious Petit Verdot wine.  However, our Amelior is as mysterious as the mythical Amelior Amanitas.  For the first time in my blog experience I have found almost nothing about this wine on the internet.

Let’s see if we can exegete this wine together. The wine is very good, exceptional in my humble opinion, and since I can’t find another review, I must be right!  Color Inky dark purple.  Pleasant nose.  I got violets and a hint of smoke.  Flavor think spice, chocolate, fig and plumbs.  Strong tannins.  Ideal for roasted meats.

The grape is Petit Verdot and since I can hear my wine drinking buddies yelling at me because I always mispronounce Petit Verdot that’s Puh-tee’ Vair-doe’.

100% Petit Verdot is  an uncommon wine.  Usually this grape plays a supporting role in Bordeaux blends or what we call a Meritage here in the United States.  A typical Meritage is a big does of Cabernet Sauvignon, say 60%, then a smaller amounts of Merlot or Malbec and even smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot.  By law a wine must contain at least 75% of one grape to  be labeled as that grape.  Many wines labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon are blend of 75% Cab and 25% others.  The bottle is still labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon.  Many wine makers, most notable Joseph Phelps, felt to make the best tasting wine using less than 75% of one grape would produce a better tasting product. As Aristotle said “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”.  So, a Meritage can be more interesting to drink than a single varietal.  Personally I like both the single varietal versions and the blends.  I have a very strong preference for Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Now let’s read the label.  The wine is from California.  That’s not surprising because most really good Petit Verdot’s are from California.  The California climate is idea for growing Petit Verdot. It’s a 2016 vintage, which according the Wine Spectator was a good year.  Still not much of a story.  2016 is a little young for a Petit Verdot.  Because they are very tannic they need some time to settle down.  2013 or 2014 would have been preferred.

Lets move to the back label.  Here is where things got a  little more interesting.  The wine was Vinted and Bottled by Incognito Wines, Parlier California.  I couldn’t find anything on Incognito wines.  But I swear I’ve heard that name before.  I check Cellar Tracker and found 14 wines produced by Incognito.  No producer website.  I had reached a dead end.

Okay, I bought the wine at a retail outlet called The Wine Cellar.  This is not your usual wine shop.  The Wine Cellar is a retail outlet for Laithwaite’s Wine.  Laithwaite is a huge wine club.  They might be a story all by themselves.  They are actually a few Wine Clubs; Wall Street Journal Wine club and i believe two others.  I’ve been drinking their wines for years, never had a bad one yet.  So I went to their website. Amelior was there, unreviewed.   Dead End

Went to Vivino.  Once agin Amelior was there.  4 .0 out of possible 5.0 top 5% of wine ratings.  Now I’m getting somewhere.  Had a few reviews all positive.  That’s where it ended.  No information on the Winery, or the wine maker.  No drink by date.  Nothing, another dead end.

They did list similar wines. Two common names emerge “Inkblot” and “Freak Show”  both are Michael David Winery wines.  Michael David also has a wine called “Incognito”.   Maybe a connection.  Micheal Divid Winery is in Lodi which is about 154 miles away from Parlier.  So my case is weak.  Both Inkblot and the Freak Show are Petit Verdot’s.  Ah, I’m grasping at straw.  My finial analysis is I don’t know.  All I know if I enjoyed the wine.  I’d buy it again.  I’d by a case if I knew how long it would age.  Right now all I know is what’s above.

Try a Petit Verdot.  If nothing else it will give you better appreciation of the red blends you are drinking now.  If anyone knows anything about Incognito Wines let me know.

Foradori Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2013

 

IMG_3410Wine is essentially four things: weather, soil, grapes and people.  When these elements all come together and aline, something special happens. This is one of those wines.

People drink wine for all kinds of reasons.  Wine appeals to our sense of sight, smell and taste.  Enhances our enjoyment of food.  Heightens our enjoyment of social occasions.  And yes, we enjoy it’s intoxicating effects.

Wine tells stories.  Stories about the past, present and future.  The stories are about people, places, events, and locations. Wine cheers us, heals us, and enlightens us.

How did I fine this wine?  A show simply called “The Wine Show”.  The show is based at the D’Amico Wine Estate on the Laizo-Umbria boarder in the Italian hills.   The show has a segment called “the road trip” where wine expert, Joe Fattorini,  sends two actors Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys on a quests to fill a case of wine that exemplifies Italian wine.  Week 10’s challenge was to find a wine that “ captures the spirit of the landscape the wine is from”.

Matt and Matt take off in their trusty Fiat 500.  No kidding. It’s gray not canary yellow.   It might have winedar, because they show a map of where they are going.  The trip in Episode 10 takes them to Northern Italy to the city of Trentino. 

You can watch the show on Ovation,  Hulu,  or go to the website “thewineshow.com” and watch on YouTube.  The scenery is awesome.

They travel to the plain of Campo Rotalian in the Dolomite mountains between Trentino and Tyrol.  The land is amazing.  It’s the crossroads of Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.  All these cultures are present but none dominates, why can’t every place be like that?

This is the home of the Teroldego grape.  It grows here like nowhere else.  Teroldego has a deep red color. Great nose.  Full body, fruit forward.  Nice finish and can be aged up to 10 years.  This is an ancient grape been cultivated for hundreds of years in Italy.  It reminds me of Pinot Noir. Campo Rotaliano is sandy and gravelly, perfect for this grape.  It’s a Goldilocks climate, not  hot, not too cold and sheltered from extremes by the looming mountains.

So, we have the grape, we have the soil, we have the weather, let’s add the people.  The winemaker is Elisabette Foradori.  It is said that Elisabatte’s wines are not so much “made” as “inspired” by the mountainous terrain.  I can testify you can taste the land and Foradori’s passion in the wine.  For thirty years, since she was a teenager and took over the vineyard when her father died she has worked to increase the quality and prestige of her wines. This mother of four and internationally famous winemaker has truly captured the landscape in her wines.

Foradori utilizes a unique aging process.  She doesn’t use barrels, no oak.  She uses terra-cotta urns where the wine sits and slowly matures.

There are other people involved with this story; Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys to be sure, certainly Elisabatte Foradori, but also anyone who drinks the wine.  Elisabatte says “how can you tell the wine is good”?  “The bottle will be empty”.

The story here is of goodness.  A critic writing about the wine described the wine’s nose as being what a good dream smells like.  In drinking the wine I felt harmonious and balance.  Feelings that are often missing in our lives.  I got the feeling that Elisabatte cared more about her wine, land and family than she did about being famous.  Something else missing from our celebrity crazed world.

If you want to drink a wine that will have you believing “most people are good” this is the wine.

May you live in interesting times

 

Up until this morning I never knew this was a curse.  I thought it was what intellectuals said to each other to impress.  “Good Morning good fellow, where are you off to”?  “Oh, good morning to you chap, I’m bashing off to the lab for a bit of heavy thinking”.  “Jolly Oh!, well may you live in interesting times”.  To bring it down to my level, it’s something Spock would say to Dr. McCoy.

It’s called the Chinese curse, but it has no actual Chinese connection.  “Interesting” times are those connected to war and social disorder.  Where as “uninteresting” times are of peace and tranquillity.

I’ve always felt blessed that I did live in interesting times.  I can see my time has been both a curse and a blessing.  Like the Blake Shelton song  “I Lived It”;  

Oh, you think I’m talking crazy

In a different language you might not understand

Oh, That’s alright

That’s just the kind of life that made me who I am.

 Just taking my mind on a visit

Back in time ‘cause I miss it’

You wouldn’t know how to love it like I love it

Unless you lived it

  And man I lived it. 

For wine lovers there has never been a more interesting time.  More wine, better wine, more affordable wine.  More free time to enjoy the wine.

Science helps predict the weather better.  Sensors monitor everything from the soil, to the fermentation process.  Electronics and satellites monitor ships, airplanes, trucks movements and store’s inventory levels.  Refrigeration and Central heating systems keeps us and the wines at comfortable temperatures. 

Modern economics allow more of the worlds population to afford wine.  Trade allows wine to flow around the world.  Now,  a person in China, can afford, obtain, and enjoy a wine form France.  Soon wines being produced in China, might be on the table in a home in France.

Where am I going with this?

Two stories in Wine Spectator caught my eye.  I love all this technology.

  

Champagne in space.   Star Trek had its drinking scenes, but I don’t remember them drinking Champagne.  Looks like G. H. Mumm has solved the problem of how to keep all those bubbles from being sucked out into the ice cold black void where no one can hear you scream. Wow, it sounds like Connecticut.  They have design a champagne bottle that pours in zero gravity.  Here is video https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/06/gh-mumm-figured-out-how-to-serve-champagne-in-spac.html They also had to design special glasses.  The glasses even allow you to clink and toast.  BTW the glasses have no bases so you’ll have to always hold them.

 Wine is going to Mars.  The country of Georgia has a project to help colonize Mars by learning how to grow wine there.  The history of wine will not stop on Earth.  The project is call the IX Millennium project.  The Georgian National Museum has built a greenhouse mimicking the Martian terroir.  From a historical stand point Georgia has a creditable claim to have introduced wine to Earth, it’s only fitting that they get to pioneer wine on Mars.  They are currently focused on what varieties will do best on Mars.  Next step,  fermentation in clay kvevris in the Martian ground?

My mind races to envision all of this, well, maybe not the Champagne.  I can see robot vine workers tending vines growing on Mars.  Domed Chateau’s.  R2D2’s doing all the grunt work in the fermentation process. Shuttles bringing wine from Earth to Mars and making the return trip with Martian wine. Wine tourists?

Makes me want to be like some of the characters in the science fiction stories I have read.  Having my brain transferred into a robotic body so I can see how all this stuff works out. With a robotic body and the miracle of compound interest even I could have a 4,000 bottle wine cellar, and be able to drink it too.  Would the sensors be able to allow me to taste the wine?

For good or ill these are interesting times.  The older I get the more I say rejoice and be glad, because this is your life.  The future is bright and full of possibilities.  To the next generation I say fix the mistakes my generation has made, don’t judge, you’ll make mistakes of your  own.  Drink the wine, eat the cake, dance like no one is looking` and may you live in interesting times.